Hindi Medium & Half Girlfriend

Today was baby’s day out. Wife had gone to meet her mother; daughter in her office; house guests from tomorrow, who themselves called in morning to say “your last day of freedom, we arrive tomorrow morning”. So the choice was to stay and home and listen to my daughter’s cat mewing and bawling through the day; or escape to the movies. Indeed a Hobson’s choice. Maybe some of you may think my seeing 3 movies in the day : Hindi Medium ( first time), Half Girlfriend ( second time) and Meri Pyari Bindu ( third time) was an overkill. But then you have not seen the cat at home!!!

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Half Girlfriend is a well made movie. Chetan Bhagat’s book lends itself well to being adapted into a movie and Chetan himself is associated with the production. That, and of course Balaji Films and Ekta Kapoor behind the project, means the production values are good. The story is a typical love story; rich girl meets the village bumpkin, the expected clash of values between a sophisticated socialite girl and a small town Bihari hickey. The usual hits and misses all boiling down to the last minute search of the lost lady love for which the hero covers most , if not all, bars which have live Bollywood singers in New York!!!

So as you will quickly realize: the story has nothing new to tell. While some of the songs (notably Tu Thodi Der Aur Theher Ja and Ye Baarish ka paani and Will you stay a little longer) are good, overall the movie’s music does not make a lasting impression. Same is the case with Mr Arjun Kapoor. He neither looks nor behaves like a basketball player. In fact, he has one constipated look throughout the movie that jars. The saving grace in the movie is clearly and by far Shraddha Kapoor. She absolutely sparkles. Whether it is on the basketball court or in a party at her father’s house, in a traditional sari or in the western ensembles, Shraddha carries herself extremely well.

Shraddha Kapoor has literally carried the entire movie on her shoulders, through her character in the movie. And she proves beyond doubt that that she has matured as an actress. Her performance is understated and still powerful. And totally, totally believable. You keep wishing that the director Mohit Suri had found a less dumb actor that Arjun Kapoor to play the Bihari Jha. Arjun Kapoor studiously maintains the SAME expression through 2 hours 15 mins of the movie; and gets really weary on your nerves. Seema Biswas as the mother plays her role well but has precious little to do.

So overall : watch the movie if you want to admire Shraddha Kapoor carrying off 25/30 different looks and styles. Arjun K., the story or rest of the cast add nothing to the movie. Even if you miss watching the movie, you would not miss much!

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Hindi Medium sets out to tackle a lofty subject: the mad race for admissions to “prestigious” schools and to what extent a well to do family is ready to go to secure admission for their daughter. The theme and the treatment is totally realistic and something that we see around us all the time.

After directing movies like Pyaar ke Side Effects and Shadi ke Side Effects, director Saket Chaudhary has taken a very different, socially relevant and topical theme. We all have personally experienced the stress every family goes through when it is admission time. And the younger the child, the more difficult it seems to get. The movie talks about the corruption and twisting of the RTE quota in the prestigious schools. The Principal played by Amrita Singh and the Hindi teacher are enacted very well.

Irrfan is outstanding to say the least. He pulls off 2 distinct roles : a brash Punjabi shopkeeper and then the same guy giving up all luxuries to stay in a low middle class “bharatnagar” tenement to justify his RTE application. Irrfan dominates the movie throughout: whether it is showing his shop assistant how to make a sale, or rejecting caviar in favour of pakodas in his house party, his spirited dance in the party which becomes the talk of the snobbish guests, his yearning to keep his Mitthu/Honey happy at all times, his adjustments in the Bharatnagar tenement even when rats abound: Irrfan just amazes with his breadth and variety of acting skills. You find it difficult to reconcile the sauve, well dressed Chandani Chowk fashion shop incharge with the archetypal red checked “gamcha” covering his head and sleeping on the floor in absolute comfort and still wanting to tease and love his wife in the deprived circumstances. His last performance when his conscience is awakened and he challenges the Principal and the system,and withdraws his daughter from the school to correct the injustice which he himself had perpetrated: the entire sequence is so well done, that it will stay with you long after you move out of the cinema hall.

You see some parallels to Dev Anand’s (Asli Naqli) and Raj Kapoor’s movies in the scenes which show the simplicity and giving nature of the poor in contrast to the rich who are always self centered and pretentious. While Irrfan makes the transition from Vasant Vihar bungalow to Bharatnagar tenement with elan and ease, his wife (played by Saba Qamar) sticks out like a sore thumb. Wonder where Director Saket C dug out this lady from? Because of her poor acting, Irrfan gains even more in your evaluation.

The surprise package is Deepak Dobriyal as the well-meaning friend. Again an amazing performance which is played perfectly.

Overall with all it’s faults (especially the length of the movie) Hindi Medium is a must watch for Irrfan’s acting prowess, Director Saket for attempting this bold subject, Deepak D for a most amazing performance.

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Finally I was happiest watching Meri Pyari Bindu for the third time.

Happy viewing :vikas