Treat your mothers to anything but this- Vijayalakshmi Narayanan
Storylines based on middle-aged women seems to be the new cool in B-town. With the success of ‘Tumhari Sulu’ and ‘Hichki’, filmmakers seemed to have found salvation in telling fresher stories based on life after marriage and motherhood. But then, on the other side of extremity lies ‘Helicopter Eela’, a film so daft in every sphere that it makes you want to question your integrity as the viewer, no explanation required for the makers’ audacity to tell this tale.
Inspired by the urban term helicopter parent, ‘Helicopter Eela’ is the story of Eela Raiturkar (Kajol), a mollycoddling, over-protective mother whose love and affection stipulates her teenage son Vivan (National Award-winning Riddhi Sen). Once an aspiring playback singer, Eela’s single-minded focus towards her child has nipped her ambition and resolve in the bud. How she introspects and finds her lost purpose is what the film is about.
To be fair, the film makes a decent attempt to highlight aspects of miscommunication between parents and children, smartphone culture taking precedence over practicality and taking second chances in life. A beautiful throwback to the indipop culture of the 90s is likely to give music aficionados, a rush of nostalgia. If only it could’ve been backed by a decent script. Director Pradeep Sarkar, best known for his films ‘Parineeta’ and ‘Mardaani’, is saddled with a half-baked screenplay adapted from a Gujarati play, ‘Beta Kaagdo’ by Mitesh Shah and Anand Gandhi that lacks novelty, completely. Cinematographer Sirsha Ray’s visuals are colourful and offer us flattering views of the film’s characters and locales. For a film, whose first half is about music, Amit Trivedi’s musical score is sadly forgettable. Quite paradoxical considering that the same man has delivered one of the best music albums (Read Manmarziyaan), this year. Enough time is wasted in establishing Eela’s backstory about her rise in the music industry, the career disruption and an eventual marriage that goes wrong. This is where editor Dharmendra Sharma should’ve exercised the power of his scissors to better use.
Coming to the performances, it pains us to see Kajol invest her time and expertise in such poorly executed material. Her de-aged look in the film’s first half is a painful sight and her act is frankly OTT. The portions that display her being the over-bearing parent would make any child want to run away immediately. Riddhi though is earnest as the young millennial kid dealing with unhealthy expectations and toxic parenting. Tota Roy Choudhury as Eela’s husband Arun is selfish, spineless and outright stupid. Neha Dhupia is Padma, a teacher in charge of the college’s dramatics club, who flings footwear at her students instead of chalks and dusters. Really, this is how differently the makers decided to develop her character into.
There is virtually nothing redeeming about ‘Helicopter Eela’, unless you’ve really missed Kajol from the movies. Even obligatory cameos by Amitabh Bachchan, Baba Sehgal and Ila Arun fail to save this flight from crashing.