Helicopter Eela: A Shallow Tale That Tries Too Hard and Fails To Entertain
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Directed by Pradeep Sarkar, Helicopter Eela is a family drama based on the Gujarati play Beta, Kaagdo written by Anand Gandhi who is also a co-writer of this film. The film has Kajol and Riddhi Sen playing lead roles. The film, which is supposed to be a single mother’s journey to self-discovery disappoints you with its shallow writing and unimaginative screenplay. When the central character Eela itself is written so poorly, how then can a journey of women empowerment be successful?
A few minutes into the film, Helicopter Eela tries to explain its title to the audience, repeatedly. When its explanatory scenes play on in the silver screens, you wonder, any film that tries this hard to explain even its title is bound to be problematic, isn’t it? If you thought that, this is sadly one of the times when your instinct will stand true.
Remember Anjali Sharma from Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham? If she were a single mother, this is exactly how she would be. Only, Anjali’s charm, her quick temper and equally sensitive emotional palette go missing in Eela’s character arc. Eela is outwardly bubbly, she is loud and she forces herself into every aspect of her son Vivaan’s life. She is the textbook definition of an overbearing mother. As a plot twist shatters her life, as she knows it, she supposedly sets off on a journey to self-discovery.
But, not once are you convinced of her ambitious nature. Everything about Eela comes across as shallow. This is because of the underwhelming writing that went into building her character. Eela looks like the woman of today, her dialogues also lead you to believe that she is, but not once are you convinced. This is why when she tells her young college mate to call her Eela and not Eela aunty, you know she’s trying hard to be modern but really, she isn’t.
When you build a film on a female character who gets a second chance at life, you need to ensure her character is realistic if not relatable, Eela is neither. Many Indian single mothers go through the same hurdles Eela goes through and yet not once do you find her relatable. Eventually, when she hops back onto the stage, to sing to her heart’s desire, you are unsure if she is doing this for herself. This is when you realize, Eela’s appearance and her characteristics are always strained, they aren’t effortless, you always feel like she’s trying too hard to fit in.
Everything you know about Eela is hearsay. Even her obsession with her son is not explored wholeheartedly. Neither is her pain explained to you clearly. Her bubbly personality which is always thrust onto your face is depthless too. Sadly, you never get to know Eela beyond all this fluff. She remains one dimensional to you, which is why the film never takes off.
The other aspects of the film aren’t exceptional either. Take, for instance, the reason behind why Vivaan’s father walks off from them. It is plain stupid. This reasoning makes you feel as though the writers put no thought into this character’s development/backstory.
Furthermore, a segment of the film features a 90’s flashback. This is simply the worst part of Helicopter Eela. Many renowned actors make a guest appearance in black wigs and dyed hair. Since when were these props alone enough to recreate such an unforgettable era?
As Eela, Kajol is overly dramatic. She hams her way through the character. Who could have thought, a powerhouse performer of her stature would ever over act, someday? She appears too desperate to fit in. She tries too hard to please people and be funny that you are left annoyed by her. Halfway through the film, you wonder if her overdone performance is to make up for the half-baked writing. Either way, it cannot be justified. Riddhi Sen is the only glimmering hope in the film. He brings so much warmth to his character. The relationship Vivaan shares with his mother is memorable only because of his worthy portrayal.
Amit Trivedi and Raghav Sachar’s music is definitely hum-worthy. Some of the soundtracks including Yaadon Ki Almari are bound to stay with you long after the film. Sirsha Ray’s cinematography is quite fitting to the film’s story. With vibrant colors and refreshing frames, it encapsulates the essence of Eela’s character.
On the whole Helicopter Eela’s failure to realistically develop its central character, lets it down, weighing heavily on its ability to entertain the audience.