Cast: Kajol, Riddhi Sen, Tota Roy Chowdhary, Neha Dhupia
director: pradeep sarkar
Score: 1.5 stars (out of 5)
eela chopper by pradeep sarkar, starring kajol as the eponymous protagonist, is an undeniably well-intentioned family entertainer. but is that enough for him to pass the test? No. the film seems to have a clear purpose. it is the delivery that is choppy. it’s marred by a lame story, bland treatment, and overly goofy acting. eela helicopter is a big disappointment.
Co-produced by ajay devgn, the film aspires to be a synthesis of a kind of musical and an emotional mother-son drama. but the lack of wind in its rotors prevents it from getting up off the ground and flying. looms sadly, and predictably, over a doting mother who not only irritates her teenage son but also puts her own life and career on hold. the film drives home the point about the identifiable struggles of a single parent, but fails to impart sustained momentum to the message.
The story of a woman in her 40s who misses her chances and then, two decades later, finds herself struggling to make up for lost time, should have been a watchable adventure, if not an exciting one. It’s not because of the bland and contrived situations she finds herself in and the weird reasons that are invented for the always unpleasant turns her life takes of her.
As a mother who is hell-bent on smothering her college-bound son with more attention than the latter craves, Kajol oscillates between overly exuberant and insanely cantankerous. Tonal missteps completely mess up Helicopter Eela, adapted from a Gujarati play written by Anand Gandhi. the lead actress is left with a mountain too high to climb. It’s not that kajol isn’t up to the task. she certainly isn’t low on energy. however, a little less enthusiasm could have helped make the character more nuanced and rounded.
Leaving all semblance of subtlety aside, the script relies on broad strokes to portray the forceful protagonist and the effect she has on the object of her attention. this woman is someone who has voluntarily abandoned her song-playing aspirations to raise her child on her own. when the boy reaches his teens and feels constantly embarrassed by his mother’s endless interventions in her life and personal spaces, he decides to do something about it. that’s the point of helicopter eela.
the scenes between mother and son are not written with much imagination and despite the commendable modulation that the young riddhi sen (the chauranga actor and dried up in his bollywood’s first leading role) brings to the part, the tensions between parents and children don’t become believable or gain any strength. the obsessive mother closely watches the child. she worries and fumes about her dependence on her mobile phone. she never tires of reminding him to return the tiffin box that she prepares for him every day.
helicopter eela opens with kajol’s nosy character, eela raiturkar, preparing to leave for her first day at university after a 22-year hiatus. it turns out that she is in the same class as her son, vivaan. her arrival arouses the curiosity of her young classmates. Flashback to the mid-1990s, where we meet Eela’s songwriter and boyfriend, Arun (Tota Roy Chowdhury), who soon becomes her husband. for a reason that can only be described as strange, one day the man decides to disappear, leaving eela and long live her fate.
The 1990s provide an unavoidable pretext for retro Hindi film music highlighted by ruk ruk ruk arre baba ruk, the fictionalized version of which is enthusiastically sung by eela. the remix becomes an instant hit and gives him a very brief foothold in the showbiz pantheon. while these passages in which annu malik, mahesh bhatt, ila arun and shaan play themselves and alisha chinai, the singer of the original ruk ruk ruk, plays a successful singer named anita are passable At best they are fleeting moments. they don’t change the course of the movie.
for a film loaded with so much music, including that lively ode to fading memories, yaadon ki almari (words: swanand kirkire; music: amit trivedi, sung by actress palomi ghosh) , helicopter eela is deaf. the number sounds great both in flashback and climax, but the film is so heavy-handed in depicting the heroine’s journey toward self-realization and redemption that it doesn’t do justice to the everyday quality of the lyrics (ik wallet hai leather ka jismein rehti thhi kangali, one line goes). the film is too frivolous and melodramatic to be able to capture the tangibility of the emotions expressed in the song.
neha dhupia, as a drama teacher, does more drama than is necessary and throws shoes at students who audition for a play and come up short. At one point, the university’s exasperated headmaster (Zakir Hussain) yells, “This is not a game school.” that is open to debate: the way professors and students behave in this university, it resembles an insane asylum where the supervisors are just as deranged as the inmates.
The problem with helicopter eela is that it allows drama to trump its comedic potential. a little more wit and humor and a little less seriousness might have given the film the wings it wants. after two disappointingly predictable and uneven hours, the climax also doesn’t do much to help the audience forget about the road to this point.
To sum it up, eela helicopter is an ungainly crash landing at the end of a wobbly journey.