There's a scene where a teary-eyed Eela (Kajol) confesses to her son Vivaan her difficulty to make new friends at this age just like how he felt during his childhood days. It simply brings a lump in your throat. Sadly, Helicopter Eela tugs your heartstrings like this in just a couple of scenes.
This Pradeep Sarkar directorial revolves around a single parent Eela (Kajol) who keeps shadowing her teenage son Vivaan (Riddhi Sen) and has her life revolving only around him. While Vivaan struggles to find his space, his mommy dearest hovers around him like a crazy stalker with a dabba in her hand. He's pissed off but, Eela doesn't back off.
Helicopter Eela welcomes you to the world of Eela Raiturkar with Sunita Rao's scintallating 'Pari Hoon Main' playing on radio (a hi-fi to all 90s kids!). We slowly learn that Eela was a budding singer in the 90s. Be prepared for plenty of pop culture and song references here! In present times, she follows him around not just in the virtual world but, ends up right as a fellow student in his college.
Normally, parents in Bollywood are either portrayed as 'an institution of sacrifice' or as villains. More often, they end up peripheral to the plot. That's where Helicopter Eela comes as a refreshing change.
The first half of the film mainly revolves around Eela's musical ambitions and her love-story with Arun (Tota Roy Choudhary)'s love-story. Post interval, the film picks up pace and we get some heart-touching moments between the mother-son. The conflict between them does make you reach out for the tissue box.
On the flip side, the track revolving around the abrupt exit of Eela's husband from their lives comes with a ridiculous explanation. Also, there are times when melodrama seeps in and makes the narrative sugar-coated. 'Helicopter Eela is based on a Gujarati play named 'Beta, Kaagdo'. Anand Gandhi and Mitesh Shah's writing lacks a graph. While the film has an exciting premise about how women shouldn't bury their self-identity post marriage and motherhood, Pradeep Sarkar's wobbly execution falls short of making Helicopter Eela an extraordinary watch on the big screen.
Coming to the performances, Kajol is the backbone of the film and gosh, the actress seems to be aging in reverse! She lends her own charm to Eela and lights up the screen with her infectious energy. Riddhi Sen too showcases his acting prowess effortlessly on celloid. Their fun banter keeps you engrossed.
Neha Dhupia plays her part well. Tota Roy Choudhary suffers from a farcical-written character.
Sirsha Ray's cinematography has nothing new to offer. Dharmendra Sharma's editing looks abrupt at places. Barring 'Mumma Ki Parchai' and 'Yaadon Ki Almari', none of the tracks stay with you for long.
Pradeep Sarkar fails to make a heart-warming watch out of Helicopter Eela in spite of some good collective performances. I am going with 2.5 stars for this one.