Nil Battey Sannata: A Movie Review

By Suruchi Das

How would you react if you realise that your mother can knock you down at your own game with nothing but a dream to see you at your best and a will to never say never...

Marking Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's feature debut, "Nil Battey Sannata" is co-written by Iyer, Neeraj Singh, Pranjal Choudhary and Nitesh Tiwari. Set in Agra the film revolves around a teenage girl, Appu aka Apeksha (Ria Shukla) and her mother Chanda Sahaye (Swara Bhaskar) who unabashedly dreams of a better future for her daughter despite the fact that she is a maid and has to commit to four jobs a day to make ends meet.

Swara Bhaskar as the optimistic, hopeful, hardworking mother has nailed it! Despite her prejudiced conditions, Chanda is self-esteemed, ambitious and disciplined. Her cute gestures, scolding is soft and touches that silver linings of nostalgia and warmth which reminded me of my school days morning routines with my mother.

Ria Shukla as the stubborn and laid-back teenager Appu, is brilliant. Flunking classes, enjoying street food, buying goodies, spending her days seizing the moment, until one day when her frantic mother asks her about her aim in life and Appu replies in the simplest manner, that there is no aim. A maid's daughter will be a maid as well. Shukla is extremely talented, it seemed to me that she has given her whole spirit in portraying the notorious teenager who is overtly aware of her circumstances and is comfortable with it.

Ratna Pathak as Dr. Diwan who is Chanda's boss, confidante, supporter and guide is apposite. For Chanda her presence is sweet and comforting amidst the constant friction of life. Srivastava (Pankaj Tripathi), the principal cum maths teacher is delightful. He is funny and yet maintains the true colours of the character for what it is, corrosive but not negligent.

The music of the film takes you on a ride. "Maa" by Mohan Kannan is sublimity at par. 'Murabba'- the conversation between you and your life is creative and colourful. "Maths mei dabba gul" is every person's story who dislikes maths in their… (still do, cuz I'm still poor at it).

The issue of class differences, partiality and stereotypical behaviour towards a certain section in human society could have been handled better in the film..The soft edges of the film do pinch you but do not engage you as an audience. It is all happening from a far far distance where one is pitying Chanda, her hopelessness but not is not able to empathize, as the lows are too low to be blown away, propagating that the hurdles which she is facing are easily overcome. But the on-screen mother daughter fairy tale is so engrossing that the absurdity of it is hardly noticeable.

Nil Battey Sannata has "big dreams and the right to dream" as its central theme but deep down it is also bringing out the raw emotion of Motherhood, borne by unconditional love. The film is made with pure warmth and affection..