Despite Hindi being India’s primary language, many take immense pride in speaking English. The same is the scenario even with the education system where people do not mind going to any length to procure an admission for their children in an English medium school as compared to a Hindi medium one. This week’s release HINDI MEDIUM is an attempt to mirror the prevalent education situation of our society. Will it succeed in acting as a ‘medium’ in educating the audience or will it bite the dust, let’s analyze.
HINDI MEDIUM is an extremely endearing, light-hearted romantic story (written by Zeenat Lakhani, Saket Chaudhary) about a young couple with aspirations to move into English-speaking society for their daughter's sake. The film starts off with a day in the life of the Batra family, which consists of a boutique owner Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan), who has the knack to convince his customers that they are not less than Kareena Kapoor! Besides Raj Batra, there’s his wife Mita Batra aka ‘Honey’ (Saba Qamar), the very lady who is ready to walk any extra mile and go to any extent to get their only child Pia Batra (Dishita Sehgal) admitted in the best of ‘English’ schools in Delhi. After reading a magazine’s survey of the top schools in Delhi, the Batras start the admission process of their daughter Pia. After being rejected in almost all the schools, the Batras enroll themselves in a ‘counseling’ centre, where, they not just train you with the tips to crack the interview, but also take utmost care of your attire and grooming as well. Despite all the efforts, when Pia still fails to get admitted in Delhi’s top schools, the only solution that the ‘reasonably-rich’ Batras find is to fake their poverty and get Pia admitted on the basis of ‘gareeb quota’. While enacting their poverty, they come across their selfless neighbour Shyamprakash (Deepak Dobriyal), who is a living example of the adage ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself’. The bond of friendship become further strong when the Batras get to know that even Shyamprakash has applied in the ‘gareeb quota’ for his son in the same school as their daughter. Do the Batras reveal their actual identity to the ever-helpful Shyamprakash, does Shyamprakash ever get to know about his neighboring Batras’ financial reality, what happens of Pia’s academic future in the end is what forms the rest of the film.
When HINDI MEDIUM’s promos were released, the film managed to build huge expectations around it because of its strong storyline. The film, in reality, is an extension of what the trailers had shown. The film’s screenplay (Zeenat Lakhani, Saket Chaudhary) has been structured in a way that traces the parents’ trials and tribulations and the impact it has on their relationship as well as on their family. HINDI MEDIUM also successfully delves in various aspects of the Indian education system like the benefits of public school versus private school, the English–Hindi divide, the importance of English and the entire ‘experience’ of the admission process in a school. Though the film may seem to be based on a serious subject, the screenplay is laced with dollops of humor and light scenes. The biggest USP of the movie is its script, which induces an instant liking to it due to the relatability with the subject. What also works in favor of the film is the fact that the film’s makers have not attempted to become preachy at all anywhere in the film as they have kept all the characters as well as the situations as realistic as possible. The film’s dialogues (Amitosh Nagpal) are extremely effective, especially the one liners.
After having started off as an Assistant Director in the Shah Rukh Khan-Juhi Chawla starrer PHIR BHI DIL HAI HINDUSTANI, Saket Chaudhary plunged into direction with PYAAR KE SIDE EFFECTS, which was followed by SHAADI KE SIDE EFFECTS. This time round, Saket Chaudhary springs up a clear winner in the form of HINDI MEDIUM, a film that sees him and his skills improved immensely as compared to his last film. Full marks to him for making a film that successfully conveys a serious message in an extremely light hearted manner. Here, one should also give due credit to the film’s casting director Honey Trehan, for having handpicked all the characters. The film’s proceedings encompass human emotions in a perfect ratio of humor and seriousness. While the film’s first half is superlative, it’s the second half where the film’s context and pace dips. However, since the movie addresses a serious subject, the context of the proceedings could not have moved in the same humorous tone as the first half. Do not miss the scenes where Irrfan Khan and his daughter break into an impromptu dance during a party, Irrfan Khan’s salesmanship in his shop, his photography with his wife ‘exclusively’ for Facebook and the climax.
The film does have its share of drawbacks as well. The song where the kids of the public school are shown cleaning the premises could have been done away in its entirety, as it portrays the public school in a negative light. Even, in the climax, the song presented by the children comes across as very superficial, which just could have been avoided. Had the last song been replaced by Irrfan Khan’s heartfelt speech, it would have rightly conveyed the message and also would have made a strong difference. Irrfan Khan’s speech in the finale could have been vocally strong in order to attain the desired impact.
As for the performances, HINDI MEDIUM is a film which totally belongs to Irrfan Khan. Irrfan Khan owns the story in the same superlative manner as much as he owns his character in the film. The manner in which he uses his eyes to convey emotions is simply outstanding. His comic timing in the film is remarkable. With this film, Irrfan Khan only reinforces as to what a brilliant actor he is. On the other hand, the Pakistani actress Saba Qamar makes a strong and impressive debut in Bollywood with HINDI MEDIUM. Besides playing her part to perfection, she walks shoulder to shoulder with Irrfan Khan with her realistic performance. Besides them, there’s the ever-dependable Deepak Dobriyal, who charms you with his simplicity and vulnerability. His scenes are extremely powerful and they reflect the values and ethos of the lower strata of the society. The impact of his character is so huge and magnetic that, by the end of the film, you start longing to have a friend and a neighbor like him. While the academic counselor (Sarita Chaudhary) is impressive, sadly, Amrita Singh as Principal Lodha, comes across as totally wasted in the film. Mallika Dua is excellent in her part.
The film’s music (Sachin-Jigar) is situational, with two of its songs (‘Suit Suit’, ‘Oh Ho Ho Ho’) topping the charts. On the other hand, the film’s background score (Amar Mohile) is decent.
The film’s cinematography (Laxman Utekar) is efficient. On the other hand, the editing (A. Sreekar Prasad) is decent.
On the whole, HINDI MEDIUM looks at the workings of the education system. It is a relevant and topical film that makes you laugh and get emotional at the same time. At the Box Office, the movie will be appreciated by the classes as well as the masses. Strongly recommended.