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NIL BATTEY SANNATA - A simple, sweet, well performed film with a strong social message that ironically also revolves around a highly impractical plot. (Review By Bobby Sing)
23 Apr, 2016 | Movie Reviews / 2016 Releases

To begin with, this is a tricky film backed by a renowned filmmaker Anand L. Rai (of Tanu Weds Manu series fame). Tricky, because at one end, it appears to be a heartfelt presentation made with all noble intentions spreading an important social message of girl-education in the society. But on the other, its whole basic plot revolving around an unusual school admission is highly impractical and far from reality. Moreover, since the complete portrayal of an educational institute in the film remains more inclined towards comedy, mocking even the principal, hence NIL BATTEY SANNATA cannot really be considered as a truly meaningful attempt made with a focused vision.
(Spoilers Ahead)
Anyway, giving you an idea of the film’s story progression first, it begins at a simple and sweet note introducing a mother (working as a maid), her young school going girl and a caring lady doctor (the mother’s employer) through all realistic, likable sequences making a decent impression. In fact the first 20 minutes of the film are the most authentic moments in its entire duration of around 100 minutes as later it starts portraying everything too conveniently without any major hassles at all moving far away from what this particular section of the society faces in their real lives.
The first half keeps you engaged mainly through its well-conceived enjoyable sequences having a strong comical feel, specifically the school portions and interactions between the young kids. Keeping the basic (impractical) plot aside, the writing remains sensitive as well as entertaining using just 4 key characters intelligently. However the narration becomes inconsistent in the second half, having a few filmy inclusions like the repeated meetings with the local contractor, no clear reference of the mother’s own further studies and a hurried predictable climax with the girl becoming an IAS officer all of a sudden, leaving you with a mixed feeling about the project and its moral objectives.
Thankfully, it’s the performances that keep you engrossed and invested in the film despite its visible flaws. Swara Bhaskar, unarguably remains the soul of NIL BATTEY SANNATA playing the responsible & courageous mother who just thinks about her daughter’s bright future and nothing else. Her remarkable shining act wins your attention as well as sympathy right from the first scene itself, becoming the life-line of the project focusing on just 4-5 major characters in the entire script.
Ria Shukla, as the young-indecisive Apu makes you love her innocent anger too, even when she is not talking to her mother considering her as a competitive classmate and Ratna Pathak Shah is adorable in her short role (though coming up with a completely childish suggestion for Swara). The talented Pankaj Tripathi perfectly brings in the light humour as desired by the writer-director, but the character again is not given its due respect, being an honourable principal of a government school.
Coming to the impractical insertions in the film, director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari basically makes a project focusing on the mother-daughter’s emotional relationship around a significant backdrop of girl-education in our society. But at the same time keeps contradicting his own vision or concept by including a very unconvincing (unheard of) basic plot along with many questionable comic sequences insulting the key representative of an educational institute (in order to make a commercially viable film wooing the general public).
For instance it’s really absurd to see a highly educated, sophisticated doctor lady suggesting a 30+ aged maid to get admission in the class of her young daughter in a Government School (and that too in the crucial board exams class of Xth, completely discarding the concept of ADULT EDUCATION) as if it’s that easy, technically allowed and can quickly be done by pressurizing the Principal using someone’s influential status. In fact this major flaw simply changes the genre of the film from ‘Realistic’ to a completely ‘fictional’ exaggerated drama unexpectedly.
Secondly for a long part of the film, you see no one else but just Pankaj Tripathi as the only teacher in the school who also happens to be The Principal. So a principal only is taking the roll calls, he is only teaching the class, he is only taking the examination and he is only checking and giving back the papers too as if there is only one section and class in the entire school and he hasn’t got anything else to do.
Further the way, the character of a principal is comically used to bring in some laughter in the theater is nothing but the result of a confused vision that wishes to satisfy both the masses and classes together converting the film into a light hearted comedy. Particularly just see how the identity of ‘a principal’ is ridiculously portrayed in the scene when Ratna Pathak Shah comes to meet him with a weird and illogical proposal of a new admission.
Pointing towards its soundtrack (with a song coming right in the beginning), I personally fail to understand that how a story of a maid struggling with life (living in slums) can be represented through the musical arrangements of guitars, drums and all western instruments. That’s something which certainly doesn’t gel with the basic theme of the film as per my personal opinion.
In all, its quite painful looking at the present trend wherein the filmmakers are deliberately including or are being forced to include light hearted comic sequences and dialogues into almost everything, even when it’s a serious life-transforming subject such as EDUCATION or specifically GIRL EDUCATION. Hence despite having all praises for the film’s basic theme and its noble intentions, I would not be able to give NIL BATTEY SANNATA any higher ratings due to the reasons mentioned above, but you can still go for it for the performances and the subject alone if you must.
Rating : 2 + 1 / 5 (with the additional one as a strong support to the cause of ‘Girl Education’ in our society)

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23 Apr 2016 / Comment ( 0 )
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