Towards the middle part of the movie, Tillotama Shome’s stern ‘child counsellor’ character tells the lead couple, “You are actually late, people book me when they are in their first trimester.” That’s the harsh reality of society today where connubial matters and family planning demands careful reckoning of various factors related to the child. Getting admission into a school of ‘repute’ (therefore English medium and privately run) is one of the most important ones. Hindi Medium by Saket Chaudhary takes this premise to knit together a decent story about a couple who would go to any lengths to give their child a shot to mingle with the kids of the elitists in the pecking order.
Irrfan and Saba Qamar are rock solid in their respective roles as doting husband and ambitious and over-reactive wife. The first few minutes of the movie revolves around the teenage phase of the characters when Raj Batra, son of a clothing shop owner meets Meeta in his shop and is immediately infatuated by her. Atif Aslam croons the mellifluous ‘Hoor’ as we see the young Raj falling head over heels for Meeta. This fifteen minute introduction of the characters does well to establish the actions of Irrfan in the later part of the movie where he works only to see his lady love smile and we know where this single minded dedication comes from.
Saba is undoubtedly the strongest import from our neighbours, as her acting matches the brilliance of Irrfan on screen. It is easy to overlook the other characters when you have Irrfan in all his comedic and emotional glory handling a gamut of emotions throughout the movie but Saba Qamar shines bright with her often irritating wife/mother fits and a single minded focus on making her odd family stand shoulder to shoulder with the upper crest of Delhi.
Saket Choudhary, the director of Pyaar Ke Side Effects and Shaadi Ke Side Effects appears to take his movie making journey from the previous films further, by including a kid in the story of a married couple and I am sure he must have been tempted to name this one as ‘Bacche Hone Ke Side Effects’ and complete an unintended ‘trilogy’. His light-hearted take on the plight of parents trying to grapple with the business like education system in this country and making a commentary on the classist mindset of most middle to upper class families, makes Hindi Medium a somewhat fluid watch albeit with few dragged scenes and a second half which could have been less preachy. The humour sprinkled in small measures throughout comes from situations which shows how English ceases to be a language in the country and is a reflection of the modern day echelons. The supporting cast is stellar with Tillotama Shome and Deepak Dobriyal (as the kind hearted but destitute neighbor) making their presence felt. Deepak’s character is a bit clichéd with dramatic responses for situations, yet made endearing by the actor who is fast becoming a must-have for any Bollywood movie made rooted to our society.
The movie falters in the second half in both pace and execution as the director spoon feeds the morals and makes everything rosy in a haphazard manner which culminates in a final monologue. While the actions of the couple to get their kid into a reputed school are bizarre to say the least, but it kind of reflects the daylight robbery which our educational institutions are involved in. Full marks to the director and the leads for taking up this topic and trying to add humour to put across a moot point. I saw many parents around me laughing in retrospective agreement at the turmoil which the Batra family goes through just to give their daughter a chance at a good education. If only the director had not become self-aware in the later part, this could have been one of the movies of the year. The original music by Sachin-Jigar is fluid, specially Hoor, while the Punjabi songs are forced to make up the album and garner attention.
Hindi Medium is another example of how a pertinent topic can be used to develop into a full fledged commercial movie and how Bollywood is beginning to make more of such choices in the recent months as compared to the horrible ‘Masala Movie’ obsession of the past few years. This is a story which everyone will relate to in some form or the other and so please go watch it!
gobblepoint—Irrfan plays a doting father endearingly and is supported equally by the talented Saba Qamar. The story is simple, yet has layers to it with a social commentary at every sequence. A brave and successful attempt by Saket Choudhary.
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