This week, two Bollywood movie releases talk about language imperialism and how it influences an individual’s self confidence, ambitions and life. Irrfan Khan and Pakistani actress Saba Qamar’s Hindi Medium is one of them. (Arjun Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor’s Half Girlfriend is the other, but more on that later).Also Read - Irrfan Khan's Son Babil Begins Shooting For His Bollywood Debut Film With Shoojit Sircar, Misses His Father
First things first – the film’s trailers looked promising. Add to it the fact that the makers hosted a screening last weekend for a select audience from the film fraternity and the media. That does say a lot about the confidence the makers have in their film. Also, there were reports that the story-line is similar to 2014 Bengali film ‘Ramdhanu’. The slice-of-life Bengali film had received rave reviews and that upped my hopes. Also Read - Irrfan Khan Did Not Want To Belong To This World, Reveals Son Babil Khan in Long Emotional Post
But did Hindi Medium meet all expectations and turn out to be as entertaining and gripping as the promos promised? Read on to know… Also Read - KRK Calls Salman Khan's Lawyers 'Liars', Tweets That Defamation Case is For Radhe And Nothing Else
What’s it about?
A couple of simple means and background, hailing from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, want to give their 3-year-old daughter the best education possible! By best, the film means ‘English’ medium, nudging at the perceptions that most Indians carry. The parents, who themselves have studied in Hindi Medium and are naïve to the culture of the English speaking crowd and oblivious of how admissions are granted at an English medium school, try to ‘fit in’. It is a culture shock for them! But instead of showing the characters to be panic stricken and living with an anxiety, the writer sketches amusing scenarios which leave you entertained while at the same time empathizing with the helplessness of this set of parents.
Thankfully, they find cultural allies – not all of who provide the best of advice. Will they find their way and space? Will they finally succeed to ‘fit in’? Or would they come out of this situation learning a few lessons that will change their life and the life of their daughter forever? These are a few interesting questions that are addressed during the course of the film.
Story: As per the ‘The Right to Education Act’ or RTE Act of 2009, the Indian Parliament ordered that no school should interview the parents or kids in order to grant admission. The aim was to ensure easy access to education and enrollment for all. However, following protests from private institutions, this order was revised, allowing unaided, private and boarding schools to continue with the process. However, they were required to have some quota allotted to students coming from humble background. Hindi Medium is a situational comedy based on this very issue of interviews before admissions and it tries to ask a few very pertinent questions.
To parents: Are you as a parent forcing your ambitions on your kids?
To educational institutions: Why do we need to interview a kid for a school admission and put them through pressure at such a young age? Can we not let kids be kids?
To the government: Does it even make sense to declare any language as a national language (Hindi in case of India) when fluency in that cannot get you through a school, college or job interview? ALSO READ: 7 times Irrfan Khan flaunted his full of swag, quirky style game at Hindi Medium promotions and left us in awe – view pics
Performances: Irrfan Khan is effortless in his act of the adorable father who is perinially confused and amused by how things in Delhi’s English speaking, brand consious elite society works. Pakistani actress Saba Qamar nails the act of the ambitious mother who wants her daughter to live a life that she couldn’t. They together are funny and will keep you entertained throughout the movie.
Neha Dhupia and Sanjay Suri have a cameo in the film and they are a little OTT in their ‘elite’ hoity toity avatars.
Special mention for Deepak Dobriyal (Shyamprakash), who plays a poor factory worker. In his few minutes in the film, he represents a vast class of the ‘have nots’ who do not hesitate in sacrificing their all for a fellow being. As Irrfan sums it up around the climax of the film, schools can teach that ‘sharing is caring’ but it is these people who know the real meaning of it.
Amrita Singh looks convincing in her role of the ‘strict and stern outside and corrupt inside’ principal Lodha in the second half of the film.
Music: Off late, almost all Hindi films can boast of a reprised version of an old hit number. Hindu Medium does that too but with a twist. Instead of remixing an old Bollywood track, the makers picked two Punjabi chartbusters by pop stars Guru Randhawa and Sukhbir. Thankfully, they got the original artists to churn out newer versions of the songs ‘Suit Suit’ and ‘Ishq Kitra Tadpave’.
The songs complement the story line and at no time seem forced. The love song ‘Hoor’ crooned by Atif Aslam is soulful and makes you realize how much you have missed him from the Hindi movie scene. But the star of the album is the song ‘Ik Jindari’ which talks about how all kids have similar spark and ambition and when given the right opportunity, they can reach the highest stars. ALSO READ: Hindi Medium quick movie review: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar shine in this situational comedy
While Hindi Medium throws light on a few important points that ail Indian education system, it fails to provide any solution to these issues. By the end of the film, you are left wondering about what was the aim here? Was it about changing the admission process or the way education is imparted; or the way that parents get carried away by their ambition to see their kids become masters of everything. In the climax scene where Irrfan Khan takes the stage at the school function, you wait with bated breath for that one masterstroke that can make the film cross that thin line between good and great. Sadly, it doesn’t take the crucial step.
Decent story, humour, a few heart tugging moments and effortless performances by Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar and Deepak Dobriyal make the movie watchable. Hindi Medium is directed by Saket Chaudhary and produced by Dinesh Vijan and Bhushan Kumar. The film will be hitting theaters on May 19, 2017.
India.com rating: 2.5 stars.