Bollywood

‘Helicopter Eela’ review: This could have been a funny spoof or emotion-laden drama

The best thing about the film is the nostalgic trip that it takes through the 90s with cameo appearances by Shaan, Baba Sehgal, Illa Arun, Mahesh Bhatt, and others.

Movie: Helicopter Eela

Rating: **

Cast: Kajol, Riddhi Sen, Tota Roy Chowdhary, Neha Dhupia

Director: Pradeep Sarkar

Helicopter Eela is supposedly Kajol’s come back film three years after her 2015 film Dilwale. Kajol plays Eela, a helicopter parent, the term used for the ones who get too involved in their children’s lives and forget about their own after the child’s arrival.  Eela is a model and budding singer before she gives birth to Vivaan (Riddhi Sen). Eela is all set to become an indie pop singer, as she is even invited to be part of the MTV India launch in 1996, but then her then boyfriend and later husband Arun (Tota Roy Choudhury) decides to walk out of the marriage and his home soon after the birth of their child. Eela abandons all her ambitions and makes bringing Vivan up safely the sole mission of her life. She turns out to be this terribly obsessive parent, who even lands up at her child’s picnic, and giving him no privacy even when he is a teenager. The last straw is when Eela decides to join college to attend classes with Vivan “to keep an eye on him’ and starts interfering in his life all the more.

The film that is based on a Gujarati play, Beta Kaagdo by Anand Gandhi, leaves you with a huge disappointment, as it does no justice to the topic at hand. The script and execution are so flimsy and inconsistent that you don’t even get involved with Eela’s ‘struggle’.  The production value is low too, as most scenes seem to be shot in studios. Even the characters in the film don’t seem to take the script too seriously. Kamini Khanna, who plays Arun’s mother, seems least affected by her son’s disappearance or his appearance.  Vivaan doesn’t seem to be really affected emotionally as any child would be, with an obsessive parent. Alas, director Sarkar had an excellent opportunity to explore the damages that controlling parents do, and how Indian parents refuse to accept that their child has grown up to be an adult and can have a mind of his or her own, but he seems more focused on the melodrama.

This could have been a funny spoof or emotion-laden drama, but ends up being none. Kajol is a disappointment too, as she takes her chirpiness too far. She looks fabulous and could easily pass off as the 25-year old that she plays in certain scenes. With better direction, we could have perhaps be able to see the emotional depth in her performance which is lacking here. There are a few moments between the mother and son that touches an emotional chord, but they are not enough.  Neha Dhupia plays Padma, a bad-tempered teacher in the college, who ends up becoming Eela’s support. She fits the role very well and does a decent job. Riddhi Sen, the twenty-year-old national award-winning actor,  is pretty good in his role of a confused teen, who is struggling to get out of his mother’s shadow. A better script might have done justice to his talent.

The best thing about the film is the nostalgic trip that it takes through the 90s with cameo appearances by Shaan, Baba Sehgal, Illa Arun, Mahesh Bhatt, and others.

An extended climax scene, where Kajol finds her own personality again, does some justice to her charm but then falls flat like rest of the film does.

Watch it only if you are a huge Kajol fan and missed seeing her on screen.

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Shubha Shetty

Shubha Shetty is the Entertainment Editor (print and digital) at Dainik Bhaskar Group.