Mostly hovering: Eela sure knows loudest
In a highly emotional scene, Kajol heads to the piano. Her character, Eela, is a musician, so where better to vent? So far we have seen her sing a Ruk Ruk Ruk remix and Hindi tracks, but now she breaks into an off-key song in English: ‘O Krishna, you are the greatest musician of this world.’ Ahem.
Helicopter Eela is about a girl who admires Baba Sehgal, and makes something of herself as a singer, even if that something is a trivia question on Kaun Banega Crorepati. “Amitabh Bachchan took my name thrice,” she exults. Now she has a different career: Eela Raiturkar is an obsessive helicopter mother.
Director Pradeep Sarkar has the right heroine. Kajol’s enthusiasm is infectious even when Eela is too chirrupy. As a singer, she’s applauded by stars of the ’90s, including Ila Arun, struck by the coincidence that Eela’s husband is named Arun. One day, this Arun loses his mind to superstition and paranoia, leaving Eela and their son behind.
Eela’s paranoia is different. She smothers her son, and I’m surprised how rarely our cinsits ema tackles this. In India, being a tiger/helicopter parent is a point of pride, and much should be said — but we must wait for a better film to say it. Sarkar’s film is too melodramatic to hold any impact.
The humour is inadvertent. Kajol approaches girls in a Mumbai college and asks if they live in Mumbai, and records her songs in a studio called Autotune, a disarmingly honest name. This is the kind of film that believes saying “LOL” out loud counts as a joke.
The highlight is Neha Dhupia as a drama teacher who throws things at those who annoy her — she misses, on purpose — and spends most of her time angry-snacking. She in her chair like a genuine goonda, and channels Dr Strangelove by insisting she doesn’t want too much drama in the drama club. I’d rather watch a film about her.
It’s easy to believe Kajol is too noisy for a library, and the actress does well. The film is flakier, with college students using the World Book encyclopaedia, and a young man with a thick Bengali accent playing Eela’s half-Maharashtrian, half-Punjabi son. Like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s infamously unplugged electric guitars, Kajol even conquers a stadium with a song and without a microphone. This mommy may not know best, but she sure knows loudest.