Film: Helicopter Eela
Director: Pradeep Sarkar
Cast: Kajol, Riddhi Sen, Neha Dhupia, Tota Roy Chowdhury
At its core, “Helicopter Eela” is a film dedicated to mothers and their dreams. A sweet premise. But… Rebelliously over determined and unreasonably stylised, is how one would describe director Pradeep Sarkar’s “Helicopter Eela”, which is based on a Gujarati play “Beta Kaagdo” written by Mitesh Shah, and Anand Gandhi(who had also wrote, directed and produced “Ship of Theseus”).
“Helicopter Eela” is the story of Eela Raiturkar (Kajol), a single, concerned mother who despite being a talented singer, dedicates or focuses her life in nurturing her son, Vivan (Riddhi Sen). This is the story of thousands of mothers. But here the story focuses on how Vivan pushes his mother to have a life and identity of her own.
Narrated in a non-linear manner, the screenplay loses track of the timelines right at the beginning and runs into a loop of its own making. Also, with not much drama happening, the narrative meanders with the banter between the mother and the son, thereby indicating that the film is lazily crafted. The few dramatic scenes, well handled, seem theatrically staged and the climax appears forced.
Also, the characters are cardboard thin. Understandably, this is a story set in a nuclear family, but no references are made to Eela’s parents or siblings in the film except for a passing reference as to why she is in Mumbai.
Kajol breathes life into the character, but unfortunately, her over-the-top acting style is her undoing. She is herself playing the vivacious Eela Raiturkar and never is there a moment you feel that she is playing the mother of a teenage son. Riddhi Sen as her son Vivan, is natural and sincere in his portrayal and so is Tota Roy Choudhury as her husband Arun. Kamini Khanna as Neha’s mother-in-law who often breaks into Punjabi is charming but restricted by the script. Neha Dhupia as the professor in charge of the cultural activities and Zakir Hussain as the Principal of the college are stereotyped characters who have their moments of onscreen glory. But overall, the chemistry between the cast is palpable.
Amitabh Bachchan, Mahesh Bhatt, Ila Arun, Baba Sehgal are a few who embellish the screen in cameo roles. Music is seamlessly integrated into the narrative. At the end, one wonders, why is the word “Helicopter” in the title, except that the film offers you a choppy emotional ride that touches you occasionally but overall, leaves you dissatisfied.