Hichki! is in cinemas this weekend and we’re all pumped with nostalgic excitement. It takes a Rani Mukherjee to pull an ever-so-eager
HichkiRani deserves an Oscar. The film however, is average.
Hichki! is in cinemas this weekend and we’re all pumped with nostalgic excitement. It takes a Rani Mukherjee to pull an ever-so-eager audience to the halls in such volumes, that too without any aid from the usual Bollywood marketing paraphernalia. Shear charisma (which is increasingly becoming a rarity in today’s age of formula super-stars). Hichki! is a Yash Raj production, a remake of the 2008 Hollywood film, Front Of The Class starring Jimmy Wolk as the protagonist. It’s a small budget film and runs a modest 110 minutes long.
Hichki claims to be a breath of fresh air, a catalyst of social change as well as a light-hearted narrative on the evergreen theme of the duel between obstacles and aspiration. It is armed with veteran actors, an unorthodox story-line and an able production team. However, Hichki is not without it’s hiccups. Why do we say so? Read on.
First, let’s meet the actors:
Rani Mukherjee as Naina Mathur
Supriya Pilgaonkar as the supportive mother
Sachin Pilgaonkar as the estranged father
Hussain Dalal as the adorable brother
Shiv Kumar Subramaniam as the good-natured professor
Neeraj Kabi as the annoying other professor
Harsh Mayar as the scoundrel
The film is centered around Naina Mathur, a victim of Tourette’s syndrome, a neuropsychiatric condition causing the patient to experience rapid, involuntary motor tics. However, her resolve to carry out a life of normalcy stays strong, even in the face of all the jerks that Tourette’s throws her way. She believes that she was ‘born to be a teacher’ and does not let the twenty-odd schools that reject her application tell her otherwise. Finally, the dejected Naina finds work at her alma mater. Her relief is short lived since she soon realizes that she is assigned the ‘rotten 9F’. A class of scoundrels and slum dwellers who choose to believe that ‘they don’t need no education’. Will Naina thrive? or fall prey to the same disappointment that has been luring her in different ways ever since her childhood? That is the premise.
Rani Mukherjee as Naina Mathur delivers more than just a memorable performance. There are few things in this world that are better than her light coloured eyes or her comforting smile. Her performance in Hichki is one of those things. Rani brings Naina to life with each ‘jaa’ and each ‘chuck’. She wears the golden robe of resolve beautifully throughout the film, and creates magic on screen. Her moments of frustration paired with her gung-ho attitude deserve every bit of praise that they shall receive.
Other interesting performances to watch are those of Harsh Mayar, whom we last noticed in I Am Kalam. The National Award winner is every bit the rascal that his role requires him to be. A leader of the misfits, reveling in his rebellion. His prime enemy, and the woman who will soon bear the brunt of his coping mechanisms becomes Nania Mathur as soon as she steps through the classroom door. He tries absolutely everything, including setting the classroom on fire (almost), to hurl back all the hope that she represents. His wise-cracks and the mischievous glint is his eye are throughly convincing. His band of scalawags mimic their captains intentions. Good natured fun which reminds you of those notorious backbenchers you knew so well in school.
However, these performances are dulled by the looming realization, that they are placed in an average film. Studded with the usual high-school drama cliches. A catholic school with a benevolent headmaster. A class of misfits who need to be taught with unconventional methods. Slum-dwellers who are not academically inclined. An overly antagonistic professor who focuses all his attention on disreputing any novel practice. It all seems less than novel. Stereotypes and cliches are so deeply embedded in the script that it is hard to look away from it’s glaring deficiencies. Also, the climax is entirely predictable and a bit underwhelming.
Of course, some parts don’t seem so contrived. Such as the candid relationship between Naina and her brother (played by Hussain Dalal), or the time when she recalls bits of her childhood and remembers the sombre expressions on her discontented father. However, these moments of realism are overshadowed by all the scenes spiced up with Bollywood masala. (If nothing else, they made the students sing a rap song, since they are playing ghetto dwellers, blindly mimicking current Hollywood trends. Seems foolish in the least). Truth be told, the screenplay murders all the proficient performances and conjured emotion. Hichki could have been far better, had they refrained from incorporating the usual masala tactics into the otherwise consummate storyline.
In summary, it’s an average film with stellar performances and nostalgic charm. Rani Mukherjee is the heart and soul of the film, which otherwise lacks a body (despite masterful direction). Die-hard Rani fans will love this treat, but it’s no Mardaani. The film is ideal for you if you need a child-friendly film to watch this weekend. We give it 3/5.
You will like this film if: you loved Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic and Tumhari Sullu
You will dislike this film if: you go in expecting Taare Zameen Par or Black
Best performance: Rani Mukherjee