If you’ve watched Sridevi’s—Bollywood actress of the 80s—latest release ‘English Vinglish’ you’ll understand what the plight of being an outcast means – when you’re out-casted by your family. Let’s face it, in India, if you can’t speak English you’re not considered upper-class intellect even though you may be from the upper class.
‘English-Vinglish’ is the story is of Shashi, Indian homemaker, who like so many Indian women, puts family above self. Shashi sacrifices the simple pleasures of life, from sipping her morning cup of ‘chai’ in peace, to serving the family (husband, 2 kids and mother-in-law) breakfast first. She waits for her husband to return from work, late at night, to serve him dinner, to hear about his day, his problems, his world… you get the idea. For many Indian women this may be what we’ve seen growing up and conditioned to do so ourselves as home-makers one day. For western women, it may be an eye-opener or a reason to say Shashi is volunteering to be the family doormat.
But wait. There’s more
Shashi is an excellent cook – and I mean mouthwatering excellent! She’s an entrepreneur, a dessert caterer. She makes ‘ladoos’ (an Indian sweet) at home, which she then delivers to waiting customers. The customers love Shashi and her cooking; they respect her talent. Her family loves her cooking; they disrespect her talent and trample all over her for mispronouncing English words and phrases like ‘jhaazz’ when it should be ‘jazz’. Shashi has a breakdown when she’s to meet with her daughter’s (English-speaking) school principal one day, instead of her husband. And that’s just the beginning.
A trip to the USA and Shashi’s world changes when the family she lives with and the friends she make give her a new perspective. After a 20-year marriage, Shashi finds herself falling in love to someone who finally realizes her worth. And that’s just the beginning.
It’s the same Shashi. It’s the same Indian saris Shashi wears throughout the movie (designs and colors differing with every scene, of course). It’s the same Indian language, Indian accent and echoes of Indian culture that vibrate throughout the story.
Nothing dramatic happens.
But a different perspective on herself, the value of her abilities and sacrifices she has made for the family; a new outlook on her position in the world gives Shashi the courage to stand up and challenge her biggest fears. Nothing dramatic happens. Shashi simply takes a stand.
So next time you come across an obstacle that’s a source of pain, that’s causing you ridicule, or perhaps one that’s holding you back in life – don’t just wait for something to happen or let it by-pass. You’ll be surprised at the snow-ball effect and what it can do to you. Look at the hurdle from a different perspective. Tackle it with a different approach. Give yourself a jump-start. Nothing dramatic may happen at first. But over time you’ll realize you’ve taken a stand and given yourself a new beginning.
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