The first feature film from director Pravesh Kumar, Little English follows Simmy (Rameet Rauli), a young woman who arrives in the UK from India to marry Raj (Simon Rivers), who promptly throws the wedding plans into disarray by running away from home immediately after the ceremony. Conscious of the effects such a scandal could have on her reputation, Raj’s mother, Gurbaksh (Seema Bowri), forbids Simmy to leave the family house in order to keep her son’s sudden disappearance under wraps. A stranger in a strange land, Simmy tries her best to claim some agency over her unenviable situation and find her feet in the UK with the help of the family black sheep, Harry (Viraj Juneja).
Little English is a movie with a lot to say about a lot of topics, with talking points including the immigrant experience, the complexity of cultural identity and the different ways that people grieve. There’s a real effort to grapple with complex social concepts in the storytelling, and while the flick doesn’t nail the execution every time it does manage to pull things off with moderate success.
The writing is ambitious, but it can also be somewhat unfocused at times. There are a few subplots that come and go without being given much oxygen, and some characters aren’t as fleshed-out as they could have been. However, the central plot is done well enough that it compensates for the film’s slight narrative jank.
Simmy’s story is very engaging, bolstered greatly by Rameet Rauli’s strong performance, as well as her excellent chemistry with Viraj Juneja; it’s also where the movie sticks the most landings in terms of seeing themes and motifs through to their conclusions. Character development is spread a little thinner across the supporting cast, but they nevertheless provide enough fuel for the drama or comic relief to justify their presence.
Overall, Little English is a charming film with plenty of heart and some solid comedic chops. A lot of passion has clearly gone into it, and while it sometimes chokes on its own ambition its slight scrappiness doesn’t detract from the good times. As a feature debut for Pravesh Kumar, there’s room for improvement, but there’s also a good deal of promise.
Little English is released nationwide on 17th March 2023.
Watch the trailer for Little English here: