Nil Battey Sannata (Nil Divided By Silence, i.e. 0/0. Uttar Pradesh slang for “Good For Nothing”) is a 2016 Indian comedy drama film directed by debutant director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, and produced by Anand L. Rai, Ajay Rai and Alan McAlex under the banner of Colour Yellow and JAR Pictures. Swara Bhaskar essays the lead role of Chanda Sahay, a school drop-out household maid and single mother of a sullen and reluctant to learn young girl named Apeaksha Shivlal Sahay played by Ria Shukla. The film sets to deliver the message that, irrespective of one’s social status, everyone has a right to dream, inspire and change their lives.
The film depicts the routine life of Chanda who wants big things for her only child and works in multiple menial-mechanical jobs, to put her through school. In an attempt to change her daughter’s perspective of life, Chanda gets enrolled in Apeksha’s class with the help of one of her employers and close friends, played by Ratna Pathak, and the school principal played by Pankaj Tripathi. Sanjay Suri had a cameo appearance in the film.
Released in India on 22 April 2016, Nil Battey Sannata was distributed by Eros International. The film received critical acclaim and was positively received by the audiences as well. Reviewers praised most aspects of the production, with particular emphasis on its narrative, realism and the performances of the star cast. Bhaskar garnered huge praise for her performance. The film was declared a “hit” after its second weekend. It is set to have a Tamil remake entitled Amma Kanakku, starring Dhanush and Revathi.
3 Production 3.1 Development
5 Release 5.1 Marketing and Release
5.2 Box Office
7 Tamil Remake
9 External Links
Apu (Ria Shukla) is a Class 10 student and is giving up on studies, because she knows her mother Chanda (Swara Bhaskar), a house-help, will not be able to provide for her higher studies. Her mother tries hard and even enrolled her for maths tuition but Apu thinks only children of rich parents become doctors or engineers and believes she’ll end up being a maid too like her mother. To change her perspective of life Chanda herself gets enrolled into school.
Swara Bhaskar as Chanda Sahay
Ria Shukla as Apeksha Sahay/Apu
Ratna Pathak as Dr. Deewan
Pankaj Tripathi as Principal Srivastava
Sanjay Suri as District Commissioner
Neha Prajapati as Sweety
Prashant Tiwari as Pintu
Vishal Nath as Amar
Bhaskar was sceptic about the film because of the age difference between her and her character
The film was directed by debutant director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari. The idea for the film was conceived from at the time, when she worked with the Chicago based advertising company Leo Burnett Worldwide, for a Kaun Banega Crorepati promo. The screenplay for the film was written by Iyer, Neeraj Singh, Pranjal Choudhary and Nitesh Tiwari. In an interview with The Indian Express, Iyer said, “For a year, Nitesh and I worked on the script along with screenwriters”.
After going through the script, JAR Pictures’ Ajay G Rai, decided to produce the film, and insisted on Iyer to direct it as well. After initial reluctance, Iyer learnt further aspects cinematography as a part of her preparation to direct her debut feature film. Gavemic U Ary worked as the cinematographer for the film, and Kunal Sharma headed the sound department. The visual effects were given by Prasad Film Labs, a motion picture post production studio based in Hyderabad.
Mukesh Chhabra took the role of the casting director for the film. Swara Bhaskar was the first to be cast in the role of Chanda Sahay, a single mother of a 15 year old girl. Initially sceptic about taking up the role of a mother on screen too soon in her career, she changed her mind after reading the script. In part of her attempts to understand the role better, Bhaskar stayed with the domestic help from Agra, where the film is set. After the release of the film, Bhaskar, in an interview with Daily News and Analysis said that her friends in the Hindi film industry advised her not to take up the role as they felt it would be a “career suicide” for her. She further added that she ignored the suggestions, and that she went ahead with the project as “the story stayed in my mind”. The next role to be cast was that of the 15 year old daughter of the protagonist. After a thorough search, Ria Shukla was selected for the role after the auditions in Lucknow. Ratna Pathak and Pankaj Tripathi play important supporting roles in the film. There were 25 kids, native to Agra, who played the roles of the students at the school.
Soundtrack album by Rohan & Vinayak
Feature film soundtrack
Film music was composed by newcomers Rohan & Vinayak, and Manoj Yadav, Nitesh Tiwari and Shreyas Jain are the lyricists for the production.
1. “Murabba” Nitesh Tiwari Neuman Pinto 3:55
2. “Maths Mein Dabba Gul” Nitesh Tiwari Aarti Shena, Rohan Utpat 2:59
3. “Maula” Manoj Yadav Nandini Srikar 3:37
4. “Maa (Female Version)” Shreyas Jain Mohan Kanan 3:25
5. “Maa (Male Version)” Shreyas Jain Hariharan 3:26
6. “Chanda Theme” Nitesh Tiwari 2:07
Marketing and Release
Ria Shukla, Pankaj Tripathi and Swara Bhaskar at Trailer launch of the film
The film was first screened in the last week of September 2015 at the Silk Road Film Festival, Fuzhou, China. It then went on be screened at the BFI London Film Festival (LFF) on 23 October 2015, and was lauded at the event. The release of the first look of the film coincided with the International Women’s Day, March 8. In the first look poster of the film, a smiling Swara Bhaskar is seen taking a leap with Ria Shukla, wearing a red sari and a blue salwar kameez respectively. The poster was unveiled by actress Sonam Kapoor, a close friend of Bhaskar. The official trailer was released by Eros productions on 22 March 2016. The launch took place at a media session in a classroom set-up with Bhaskar, Shukla and Pankaj Tripathi. At the event, the film’s producer Anand L. Rai said, “I associated with Nil Battey Sannata straight from my heart and I’m feeling very proud of the film.” The trailer was well received both by critics and audiences. In an interview with The Indian Express, Iyer said that “the story of Nil Battey Sannata is relevant as well as inspiring”. The film had its theatrical release in India on 22 April 2016.
The film released all over India on less than 300 screens and had an average opening at the box-office. It collected ₹25 lakh (US$37,000) on its opening, but the figure grew on the second day as a result of positive word of mouth reviews. The film collected ₹60 lakh (US$89,000) on Saturday, and the numbers kept on increasing and the film collected ₹1.05 crore (US$160,000) on Sunday bringing the opening weekend collections to ₹1.9 crore (US$280,000). The film beat both its fellow releases Laal Rang and Santa Banta Pvt Ltd in the opening weekend box-office collections. The film collected ₹3 crore (US$450,000) in its opening week. The film was declared tax free in the states of Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi by their respective state governments. The film was declared a “hit” in its second weekend as the modest collection continued and the film picked up pace in the rural areas of the country. The film had an impressive six-week run at the box office and its lifetime collections held at around ₹7 crore (US$1.0 million).
Nil Battey Sannata opened to critical acclaim, and was positively received by the audiences as well. On the review aggregator Reviewmonk, the film has a rating of 100% based on 27 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1 out of 10. It received overwhelming praise, chiefly for the direction, and for Bhaskar, Shukla and Tripathi. Kunal Guha of the Mumbai Mirror wrote, “It’s rare to come across films that force you to keep aside your yardsticks of what a good film is and dive into the experience”. Namrata Thakur of Rediff.com gave the film the highest praise and deemed it “an absolute gem”, saying “there is hardly a dull moment in the film”. She went on to say that in 2015 Dum Laga Ke Haisha was the feelgood film which left a lasting impression on everyone, and this year it is Nil Battey Sannata.
Swara Bhaskar and Ria Shukla both garnered praise for their performances
The realistic approach towards the portrayal of the mother-daughter relationship was widely lauded by critics. While Gautaman Bhaskaran of Hindustan Times gave it 4 stars out of 5 and remarked that the film “is a powerful and honest work”, Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express noted that, “the film relies on keeping things real”. Mohar Basu in his review of The Times of India described the movie as “unpretentious”, saying that, “the movie wins you over with its innocence and simplicity”. Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV resonated the fact describing the film as, “a disarmingly simple and heart-warming film”. Suparna Sharma of Deccan Chronicle called it a, “real film in a real setting about real people” that delivers several empowering, powerful messages.”
The performances of the lead cast were chiefly praised by critics. Rachit Gupta writing for Filmfare noted that, “The actors make this film so memorable”. He gave Bhaskar the highest praise saying that she delivered the “performance of a lifetime”, while also praising Shukla’s “super”, Pathak’s “phenomenal” and Tripathi’s “masterclass” performabnces. In his review, CNN-News18 film critic Rajeev Masand deemed Bhaskar to be “the heart of the film” noting that with “not one note out of place, she grabs your attention”, and Surabhi Redkar in her review for Koimoi resonated the sentiment commneting that “here’s a film that proves why she [Bhaskar] deserved a solo since start”. Udita Jhunjhunwala of Firstpost praised Bhaksar, stating that, “This is one of her most nuanced performances and a welcome change”, and highlighting Tripathi called him the “scene-stealer as the zealous school principal”.
Main article: Amma Kanakku
In November 2015, Iyer agreed terms to direct a remake of the film in Tamil, for producers Dhanush and Anand L. Rai. Dhanush had been shown a preview of the film by Rai, during a visit to Mumbai in September 2015 and the duo chose to co-produce the film, with Iyer retained as director. Amala Paul and Revathi were signed on to play the leading roles, while Samuthirakani also accepted to portray another pivotal role in the film. The film began shooting on 7 January 2016 with a launch ceremony held in Chennai and completed on 23 February 2016.