Director : Saket Chaudhary
Music : Sachin-Jigar
Lyrics : Guru Randhawa, Arjun, Priya Saraiya and Kumaar
Starring : Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar and Deepak Dobriyal
A glass of ice water to beat the ongoing heat of getting the best for their child’s education, HINDI MEDIUM is a modern day cry on the class and language divide in our society and the education system. Movies like JAGRUTI, TAARE ZAMEEN PAR, CHALK N DUSTER, have tried to focus on the relationship between a students and their teachers, the problem of dyslexia and the hardships an honest teacher goes through while performing his/her duty.
The concept/seed of the thought behind HINDI MEDIUM is more ambitious, bigger and challenging to the core as it covers the system, the society and morality. PYAAR KE SIDE EFFECTS fame Saket Chaudhary decides to marshal the given responsibility with a dose of humour and feel good fam-com (family comedy) charm that makes his task more difficult.
A garment showroom owner from Delhi’s Chandi Chowk Raj (Irrfan Khan) is a smart businessman who knows how to run the show at his shop but he is a good obedient husband, calling him henpecked won’t be right but a section of traditional audience might find him to be. Anyways, Raj loves his beloved Meeta (Saba Qamar) – thanks she is not named Simran from the cult DDLJ (remember Raj Simran?).. so a hope that writer director Saket along with his co-writer Zeenat Lakhani will give a resounding identity to the film. Within minutes when the lovely English speaking Meeta gets adamant that their daughter Pia (Darshita) should get admission into top English schools of Delhi, a deja vu of the heartfelt Bengali film RAMDHANU (2014) written and directed by Nandita Roy & Shiboprosad Mukherjee steps in but we are not complaining.
Lacking in class, style and attitude of a parent whose child is in top English school of Delhi, Raj and Meeta undergo a crash course in learning the art to stay with the rich and learned under the guidance of councilor (Tillotama Shome).
Unfortunately, all the consulting, styling fail as Pia doesn’t get shortlisted in four of the top five selected schools (the introduction of these five schools is amusing).
Now only one option is left for Raj and Meeta, they have to seek admission through poor man’s quota under the RTE Act (The Right to Education Act). The Act reserves a certain percentage of seats for the underprivileged kids where their school fees are exempted. Raj manipulates everything and even starts staying with Meeta and Pia in a slum. A chance encounter with neighbor Sharma (Deepak Dobrial) introduces Raj to reality and what happens next forms the crux of the film.
Saket brings the issue with a slice of life approach and has some genuine sarcasm on the language and class divide in the first half. However the satire looses steam and momentum during the second half. A more agile, cinematic eye, and a better sense of rhythm and fluidity that echoes the harsh truth that Hindi and English are the official language of India but ‘officially’ Hindi is not the national language of India though spoken mostly doesn’t comes out in total for the thinking audience. While its entertaining to the core.
As the film progresses, HINDI MEDIUM gets shorter in its appeal as the promised humour between Deepak Dobrial and Irrfan Khan that’s starts off brilliantly turns melodramatic. The character of Meeta appears self-centered with a single agenda at times and half-baked characters of Neha Dhupia and Suri as posh neighbors fail to help and make the debate on the class divide stronger. Still after all such flaws, Saket almost gave the movie a brilliant and classy end with that conversation between Amrita Singh – the school principle and Irrfan but alas.
Call it the push and pull of box office returns and art in cinema, Saket decides to give Raj a ‘heroic’ moment and we get an unconvincing climax that threatens the basic theme. For a ‘content’ driven cinema, such forced heroism from the protagonist is fatal and HINDI MEDIUM falls prey to this cliche mindset.
The genius of Irrfan Khan as an actor doesn’t beg for such heroisms in a film like HINDI MEDIUM that is first starred by its theme/concept. As Raj, Irrfan is in complete command and in top form. The actor effortlessly sways as a lovable and obedient husband and it’s a treat to watch him getting into the skin of the character and dissolving completely to the core. Stand out. Brilliant.
Saba Qamar is attractive and times her emotion very well. She shares an endearing chemistry with Irrfan and moments between her and Irrfan are fun.
Deepak Dobriyal deserves special mention for his role as the caring poor neighbor. Deepak is sheer brilliance and he stands equal with the caliber of Irrfan in those emotional scenes and it’s not a small achievement at all. The talented actor showcases his immense potential in this film and wins hearts.
Dishita Sehgal as Pia is cute. Tillotama Shome coming with Irrfan Khan again after the brilliant QISSA: THE TALE OF A LONELY GHOST is a class apart. Outstanding.
Sanjay Suri, Neha Dhupia, Rajesh Sharma and Amrita Singh are wasted.
Production values are top notch. On the technical front, editing by A. Sreekar Prasad is fine. Ashish Nikam production work is noteworthy. Bhanu Pratap Singh’s camerawork is pleasant.
Music by Sachin-Jigar is just okay. Sukhbir’s ‘Ishq Tera‘ gives a deja vu feel. Amar Mohile’s background is just passable
Finally, HINDI MEDIUM starts on fantasy note with a love story of Raj and Meeta while the opening credits show the titles in English and Hindi working as a simile. (The love story was not actually required) and ends on safe and happy note where Raj and Meeta had finally admitted their daughter to a ‘right’ school. Sometimes, it’s not about the ‘beginning’ or the ‘conclusion’, it’s about the quirky, entertaining and endearing moments during the proceedings that makes a pious attempt in highlighting a crucial issue concerning our education system makes an impact. HINDI MEDIUM may not educate but certainly propagates the class and language divide and rightly deserves a watch by every Indian parent.
Watch it for its pious effort and superlative performance by Irrfan, Saba and Deepak that is laced by humour and quirky fun.
(An extra for the theme and outstanding performances)