Helicopter Eela

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Eela Raiturkar (Kajol) is an aspiring playback singer who stops chasing her career goal when she decides to marry Arun (Tota Roy Chowdhury) and settle down. 
Eela Raiturkar (Kajol) is an aspiring playback singer who stops chasing her career goal when she decides to marry Arun (Tota Roy Chowdhury) and settle down. 
Soon after her young son Vivaan (Riddhi Sen) is born, Eela changes gears and becomes a full-time “over-caring’’ mom-plus-dad. But this is not the only aspect the film deals with.
When he turns a teenager, Vivaan tells Eela to stop being a control freak and encourages her to find her real identity. He wants her to go back to being the feisty, fiery woman that she once was; the one who dreamed of being a singer.
Helicopter Eela is a satirical account of the over-protective, possessive parent who wants to mollycoddle and protect her child so much that she constantly oversteps the line between concern and plain curiosity. Written by Anand Gandhi and based on his Gujarati play Beta Kaagdo, the movie offers a good insight into ‘helicopter parenting’ a curse that can make one feel claustrophobic.
Of course, single parents invariably want to play Santa Claus in their children’s lives through the year. The umbilical cord in so many cases is not severed long after the kid has become a teenager and this is nicely captured here, providing a meaningful insight as well as some laughs. Until this point, Eela is a good watch.
Kajol is the film’s lifeline and displays the mettle she is made of. Her strength lies in the little nuances she captures of being caring and overbearing with aplomb. Whether she is snooping, slapping, snapping or sniggering, the actress slips effortlessly into character. One star in the rating is for her fine performance.
The script itself needed some more working on. If Gandhi (writer) and Sarkar (director) wanted this to serve as a wake-up call for women who have buried their identity under the debris of marriage and motherhood and forgotten how to live, they should have handled this track slightly more imaginatively. This ‘back to school’ after two decades has been done in a far more convincing way in Nil Battey Sannata (2015).
What also stands out like an aberration is the part in which Eela’s husband, Arun, suddenly disappears. He is shown as a forward-thinking advertising executive, so his superstitious streak seems out of place. Eela’s obsessiveness with her son is also overdone. And her coming into her own again, which is an important aspect of this film, gets far less screen time. If Sarkar had balanced out the two aspects — helicopter parenting and self-discovery — equally, his Eela would have been sharper.
Two songs — Mumma Ki Parchai and Yaadon Ki Almari — of the soundtrack composed by Amit Trivedi are simple, hummable and relatable.
Riddhi Sen, a National Award winner, is a self-assured teen and a super fine actor. Whether he is happy, sad, ecstatic or plain embarrassed with his mother, he manages to turn in an effortless performance. The only complaint is — wish he had chosen a more modern hairstyle and got rid of his facial fuzz! He looks like Kajol’s younger brother instead of her son.
Cameos by Mahesh Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan are welcome.
Helicopter Eela is your regular, everyday slice-of-life family tale told with humour. Check it out!
Film: Helicopter Eela (Relationship drama)
Critic’s Rating: 3.5/5
Cast: Kajol, Riddhi Sen, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Neha Dhupia
Direction: Pradeep Sarkar
Screenplay: Anand Gandhi and Mitesh Shah
Duration: 2 hours, 08 minutes
Language: Hindi (U)