Audience visiting the cinema halls with the intention of enjoying the perfect performance of Irrfan were in for a treat with the release of his latest film, Hindi Medium. However, people who were there to witness an incredible spectacle, with a gripping storyline and an impeccable climax, that his movies usually are, were perhaps, a little disappointed. A far-reaching plot, with a message that gets lost in the melodramatic and predictable climax, sends the viewers home with the idea, that perhaps their time would be better used elsewhere. The only things that got me to the end of the movie were Irfan’s incredible acting along with the desire to see my prophesized ending unfold.
Hindi Medium is the story of Raj Batra( Irrfan Khan) who runs a business in Chandni Chowk and his wife, Mita(Saba Qamar), who are embroiled in a number of antics to get their daughter, Pia, admitted to an English medium school, because they did not get a chance to study in one. They do not want their daughter to miss out on this opportunity, as they did, and seem determined to go to any lengths in order to get this done. The couple runs a tour of various reputed schools in Delhi, before finally getting their sights set on Delhi Grammar School; a school which gives admission only to students living in its vicinity. Here comes, sacrifice number one: They move out of their ancestral home, for the future of their daughter. An over the top, cheesily orchestrated exit, leads them to their new posh home; Mitthu (Mita’s nickname) turns to honey, and thus begins their struggle to get themselves inhabited to the Upper Class. From throwing parties to speaking only in English, a number of steps are taken in order to mingle with the high class.
Constantly being reminded that they do not speak English, and thus they do not fit into their new social circle; Raj and Mita find out that in order to confirm their daughter’s admission, they would need to change into a high-class family. For this, they hire professionals as well, but it doesn’t work out. To their surprise, one of Raj’s staff gets his daughter admitted to one of the high-end schools they had been scouting. He secures her admission through Garib(Poor)-Quota. This, in turn, gives Raj an idea, and thus begin various mishaps and heart touching moments, as the entire family pretends to be poor in order to secure Pia’s admission.
The movie tries to inform about, and berate the elitist culture which is rampant in our country, with its roots in a belief that English is a superior language; believing that those without an English-based education occupy a lower rung in the society, and they should stay that way. The movie’s length and an attempt to deal with a serious matter in a satirical way doesn’t help in relaying its cause. Despite Irrfan’s skills, he struggles to get into the shoes of a Chandni Chowk shop owner. Saba’s repetitive dialogues and fussy character doesn’t help either. Her rant about their daughter needing drugs if she goes into a government school, or if any other incident happens, could fetch a few smiles, but when she says it the umpteenth time, you couldn’t help but get frustrated.
The movie also has many loose ends. The Suri couple is introduced, with the husband sharing a past with Saba’s character, which is just thrown out there, and never dealt with in the movie. What happens to Deepak Dobriyal’s character after Irrfan’s final antics at the Delhi Grammar School? What happens to Delhi Grammar School? These question, perhaps, does not seem important to the director. But at the end, the audience would be curious about these questions.
There are conditions in the movie, which when portrayed onscreen, need to have a bit of seriousness in them, but in order to maintain the mood of the film, unnecessary comedy has been introduced. This surprises me, as in depicting poverty, even if you mean to be satirical, you need to have a sense of compassion, which the filmmakers have ignored. In order to add the unnecessary comical moments, Deepak Dobriyal’s role is added, who mentors the Batra family in their poverty, but as touching this role is, but it is polluted, again, with the addition of useless comedy. This sequence I mention, with the mockery of poverty involved, with phrases such as, “Living in Poverty is an Art”, finishes with the most predictable outcome possible: Pia gets admission, and the poor kid doesn’t.
Coming up next, the other thing that most of the audience would predict: Deepak finds out the truth. Lined up for the audience after this, is an over-dramatic finale, in which Mr Raj Batra smuggles kids from a government school to perform at Delhi Grammar School. This ends with him delivering an epic speech, which definitely brought out Irrfan’s full acting prowess, delivering a message about the elitist society that exists today.
The movie is a fine film for those who want to kill time with their family this weekend. However, my advice to people who like do would like to see a full Paisa-Wasool movie is: Better hold your moolah for another movie.
Written By Swastid Sharma