Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Writer: Nitesh Tiwari (story), Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (screenplay)
Stars: Swara Bhaskar, Ratna Pathak, Pankaj Tripathy
Runtime: 1h 40min
Genre: Drama, Family
Released: 22 Apr 2016
Synopsis: Appu is a class 10th student and is giving up on studies, because she knows her mother will not be able to provide for her higher studies. Her mother tries hard and even enrolled her for maths tuition but Appu thinks only children of rich parents become doctors or engineers and believes she’ll end up being a maid too like her mother. But one day her mother gets a chance to continue her Education..
Appu has decided that she will become a maid just like her mother Chanda and she gives up on studies but Chanda doesn’t give up on her daughter’s future and works hard day and night to earn enough money, even she start going school as she cannot afford to pay high maths tution fee for her daughter and teaches her too. Ultimately she succeeds in helping her daughter realize the dream and helps her because She doesn’t want her to give up on her dreams just because they are poor but she wants her to realize her own dream and stay focussed.
Review: The title is a fallen-into-disuse Hindi phrase. Nil means zero. Bata/ Battey is a word for division. And `sannata’ is, of course, silence. Or ‘shoonya’. Zero divided by zero is equal to? Yep. Zero.
‘Matric- fail’ Chanda Sahay (Swara Bhaskar), of course, calls it `jeero’. Because the ‘z’ is a sound you can expect, more or less, from those who went to schools where the Queen’s English is taught from the get go. What drives the film’s characters to use this flavourful, salty phrase is Chanda’s daughter Apeksha (Riya Shukla), or Apu, and her sullen reluctance to learn. Especially those pesky numbers.
Chanda works her fingers to the bone, in multiple menial-mechanical jobs, to put Apu through school. She wants big things for her only child, and said child is quite happy to occupy the back bench and get bad marks.
One of Chanda’s employers, a humane doctor (Ratna Pathak Shah) who sees Chanda as a human being, not just a work machine, helps create a situation in which mother and daughter end up getting some learning, both in a school setting and at home, both separately and together.
There are a few contrived scenes. Apu’s occasionally-overdone brashness gets her to speak rudely to her mother, and some of those lines feel like dialogues being delivered. Chanda describes herself as a ‘misrani’, a word that got me instantly nostalgic, but in her case it’s a misnomer : a ‘misrani’ is a woman who comes, cooks, leaves; Chanda is more an all-purpose housekeeper, and also works shifts in sweat-shops. And you can’t use the UP ‘misrani’ and Maharashtrian ‘bai’ interchangeably, which is what the film does. It’s a small thing, but in a film that relies on keeping things real, it jars, just a little. The colloquial ‘lalli’, used for a ‘little girl’ almost makes up for it. Almost.