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Movie Review: Helicopter Eela

Banner: Ajay Devgn Ffilms, Pen Studios

Producers: Ajay Devgn, Dhaval Jayantilal Gada, Aksshay Jayantilal Gada

Director: Pradeep Sarkar

Cast: Kajol, Riddhi Sen, Neha Dhupia, Tota Roy Choudhury, Zakir Hussain, Kamini Khanna

Writers: Mitesh Shah, Anand Gandhi

Music: Amit Trivedi

The mother-son bond is one of the most loved relationships in Hindi cinema. We usually get an over-the-top, melodramatic and extremely emotional portrayal of it. But as we have seen in the last few years, Bollywood is moving towards a little more realistic presentation when it comes to human relationships. The premise of Helicopter Eela, which is based on Anand Gandhi’s Gujarati play, Beta Kaagdo, is about the chemistry between an overbearing mother and her suffocated son.

Eela Raiturkar is a single mother of teenage Vivaan. Her life revolves around her son. What he eats. Whom he talks to. What he does in college. Does he have any bad habits? When she is not running her tiffin service, she is thinking… rather, snooping around Vivaan’s life. Though the young man loves his mother to bits and understands her struggle in bringing him up singlehandedly, he does not understand her obsession with him. It bothers him so much so that he feels smothered. He tries to encourage Eela to pursue her music or complete her education, so that she would have something to look forward to other than her son. Eela takes his advice too seriously and much to Vivaan’s horror, enrolls in his college and shares classes with him. He takes all of it in his stride, but there comes a moment when he is pushed against the wall. He gets so frustrated that he leaves home. Eela is broken and begs him to return, but he refuses. ‘You will not get Vivaan till you find Eela,’ he declares. Thus Eela decides to give life a shot. And she falls back on the passion of her younger days: music. How the mother and son mend their relationship and how Eela finds herself is what the movie is all about.

The real plot of the film unfolds in the second half. The first half of the narrative is a flashback to the ‘90s, when Eela is trying to make a career in music. By her side is her boyfriend and future husband, Arun. Though Eela gets a few opportunities and even makes a hit remix song, she misses the chance to hit the big time. She then busies herself with her family, but an unexpected event changes her life forever.

When you have a director like Pradeep Sarkar working with a talented actor like Kajol, the result is expected to be memorable. Helicopter Eela manages to soar. The story meanders through the 90s in the first half. Eela’s musical aspirations and her love life are the focus. But these plot points seem to lack the depth that we see in the second half. The reasons for Arun leaving Eela, or when Vivaan and Eela have a fall out - these are not strong enough. But thankfully, when the story delves into the mother-son relationship, there are moments that stand out and do bring a lump to the throat. Music is an important aspect of the film. The Ruk ruk ruk song recreated from Ajay Devgn’s Vijaypath is good, as is the extremely nostalgic Yaadon ki almari.

Performance-wise Kajol is top-notch, but is let down by the writing. There are some parts where as Eela she may seem to be trying too hard, but she scores big time in the emotional scenes. Her attachment to her son is totally relatable. Riddhi Sen as Vivaan gives a restrained and controlled performance. He is likable and true to his character. The chemistry in this mother-son jodi is the biggest plus of the film. Tota Roy Choudhury as Arun has his moments, but we wish his character was given a little more meat. Neha Dhupia and Zakir Hussain have nothing much to offer. Kamini Khanna, who plays Eela’s mother-in-law, is effective.

Verdict: Worth a dekho!

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