Hindi Medium is the new release this Friday, and all the movie-enthusiasts who have recovered from the onslaught of Baahubali are probably
Hindi MediumNot phenomenal, but has it's 'DIL' in the right place.
Hindi Medium is the new release this Friday, and all the movie-enthusiasts who have recovered from the onslaught of Baahubali are probably still in two minds about whether they should catch a show. Honestly, it’s been a while since a sincere piece of cinema from Bollywood managed to shake us out of our apathy. Hindi Medium marketed itself as a film that would do the job, whilst managing to remain entertaining. So, could the director Saket Chaudhary, pull-off a Raju Hirani? Saket Chaudhary is the mind that brought us Pyaar Ke Side Effects and Shaadi Ke Side Effects, so we really shouldn’t put the weight of a masterpiece on his burly shoulders. However to his credit, he did manage to create a film that you wouldn’t regret, if not love watching.
A secondary issue to this film on primary education is that it is very obviously similar to the Bengali film, Ramdhanu. It reminds us that be it English or Hindi, the children, and later, the adults of India wouldn’t waste a minute before plagiarizing. However, nitpicking aside, Hindi Medium is an average Hindi film with all the crass comedy and populist choices you can imagine, but it has it’s ‘Dil’ in the right place. Yet the question still remains, will it be a good idea this weekend? Read on.
First, let’s meet the actors:
Irrfan Khan as the ‘Papa’
Saba Qamar as the ‘Mom’
Deepak Dobriyal as the ‘7-pushton se gareeb’
Amrita Singh as the principled public school principal
Tillotama Shome as the ‘Coach’
Hindi Medium is a film that tries to parody the class differences that exist in the overcrowded environment of a metropolitan. It is a consumer-friendly film about a social issue, which isn’t entirely a social issue. The film follows a well-to-do Chandni Chowk family, with all the luxuries that populate the houses of the rich and powerful. Irrfan Khan drives around in his BMW, and Saba Qamar wouldn’t mind spending a few extra bucks on designer wear. What they lack however, is not material wealth, but what this society considers immaterial wealth, the ability to converse fluently in English.
Saba Qamar is nothing if not ambitious and decides that she will climb the social ladder, come what may. She dons Chanel and Gucci and pretends to be one of those flawlessly pretentious bored-housewives who spend all their time in malls and tell people that they really wish they could contribute more to society. However, she cannot achieve the desirable level of panache simply because she pronounces panache as ‘pannachi’. So how does she deal with this setback? By placing the weight of her ambitions bit-by-bit on the shoulders of her daughter. Her dream of achieving the ‘it’ status shall commence as soon as her daughter is admitted to the most swanky, uptown primary school that New Delhi has to offer. She forces her large-eyed husband to jump through the most ridiculous hoops simply to allow herself and her family an entrance into the elite club.
Where Hindi medium shines is in it’s comic timing and brilliant performances. It really is entertaining to watch. It’s predictable and basic, and yet there isn’t a dull moment. The stint where Irrfan Khan breaks down when leaving his ancestral home in Chandni Chowk is absolute gold. Similarly, Saba Qamar finding herself feeling inferior to her ‘English speaking’ classmate is subtly brilliant. The first half is consistent. It is humorous as it is relevant. The second half, save and except Deepak Dobriyal’s applause-worthy performance, turns cheesy and sanctimonious.
Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar form a pair of strong performers. Khan’s performance of course, isn’t a revelation due to the mettle of his previous performances. Saba Qamar however, is a delight to watch. She certainly proves her worth. She will be a memorable loss to Bollywood due to her Pakistani heritage. The pair bring a certain life to the film. Placing it meticulously on the line between good and slapstick comedy. Amrita Singh, Swati Das and Tillotama Shome too play their parts well.
The absolute gem of a performance though, lies in Deepak Dobriyal’s portrayal of a man living in poverty. He is believable, entertaining and keeps alive the symbolism and undertone of his character. The time when he, in all earnest, tries to save Irrfan Khan from robbing an ATM is one of the scenes why Hindi Medium is not your average social-cause based Bollywood film.
The basic framework of Hindi Medium is not unfamiliar. The Bharat v/s India debate has been highlighted many times in cinema. Hindi Medium tries to address the issue head-on, by way of a illogically comical film. The issue with the movie is, that it gives in very easily to stereotypes and defeats it’s own purpose while doing so. All strict Hindi speakers are portrayed as authentic and good, whilst all English speakers are arrogant and pompous. Unnecessary judgment between the two classes is the origin of the divide prevalent in society, and stereotyping cannot be an answer.
Also, the premise of the film in itself is flawed. The family first try their hand as pretending to be one of the pretentious and after failing miserably, try to accustom themselves to being one of the ‘poors’, in order to avail for a spot in the BPL quota of primary school admissions. Really?
The film essentially shows us things that we all already know and acknowledge and therefore, the real reason to watch Hindi Medium lies in it’s quips. The story is plagiarized, the screenplay is basic, the writing is good and the cinematography is average. The melodrama and preachy-speeches are a downer. However, the comedy and Deepak Dobriyal make up for it. All in all, if Irrfan Khan (as a whole, or just his extruding eyeballs), is simply too much for you to handle and you don’t mind skipping a film this weekend, Hindi Medium will be just as average when it reaches your television screens. Although, if you are a fan of Irrfan Khan, or predictable comedy, or even a supporter of the Bharat/Modi agenda, go ahead and book a ticket. I give it 3/5.
You will like this film if: You don’t mind cheesy films as long as the message is strong, or if you just went through the ordeal of getting your 5 year old admitted to prep school.
You will dislike this film if: You walked into the hall expecting a Raju Hirani-esque production.
Best Performance: Deepak Dobriyal