Hindi Medium Review

"Hindi Medium" is a decent effort with moments that connect both on a social and an individual level. (photo provided)

T-Series & Maddock Films present: “Hindi Medium”

Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar & Dinesh Vijan

Directed by: Saket Choudhary

Written by: Saket Choudhary, Zeenat Lakhani & Amitosh Nagpal

Music: Sachin-Jigar Additional song by: Guru Randhawa & Rajat Nagpal

Starring: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Deepak Dobriyal, Amrita Singh, Taran Bajaj, Jaspal Sharma, Swati Das, Vijay Kumar Dogra, Dishita Sehgal, Rohit Tannan, Sanjana Sanghi, Rajeev Gupta, Delzad Hiwale, Neelu Kohli, Sumit Gulati, Tillotima Shome, Rajesh Sharma, Mallika Dua, Kulbir Kaur and others Sp.App.: Sanjay Suri & Neha Dhupia

The basic premise is praiseworthy – exposing the world where school admissions and progress are the fiefdoms of those who only read, speak and write English, and lesser schools (like the municipal ones) are in dire need of funds and now cater only to the children of the underprivileged (like servants and others who are not conversant with the Queen’s language).

However, when a prosperous Delhi businessman named Raj (Irrfan Khan), who is not well-versed in English, and his wife Mita (Saba Qamar) want admission for their daughter Pia (Dishita Sehgal) to Delhi’s best school, they hit several roadblocks. Desperate to give the best of education to her, the parents even join an orientation racket (a profitable business with such parents being around) to coach them in admission interviews and even shift home from Chandni Chowk to a snobbish location. They even throw a party for the socialites.

However, nothing works when it comes to the crux, and then Raj’s employee Chhotu (Sumit Gulati) manages to get his kid into the school on the poor people’s RTE (Right To Education quota). It’s time for Raj and Mita to pretend now they are poor and shift to a slum with forged documents. But suddenly comes the news that the school’s upright principal (Amrita Singh) is getting everyone’s papers checked.

In the slums, Raj and Mita also get unforgettable lessons in humanity from Shyam Prakash (Deepak Dobriyal) and his wife and small son, but when the RTE quota selection is made (by a lucky draw!), Pia gets admission but not Shyam Prakash’s son. And then Shyam Prakash comes to know the truth about Raj. Raj and Mita get an attack of conscience and set about repairing things, having learned their lessons.

The socially-relevant issues are tackled well by co-writer and director Saket Choudhary, hitherto known for vacuous movies like “Pyaar Ke Side/Effects” and “Shaadi Ke Side/Effects,” but the director falters towards the end and messes up the climax.

The twist in the principal’s character, the result of Raj’s battle for his kid and the flawed happenings puncture both the premise and the promise of the film. Throughout the film, we also wonder what the daughter was doing by way of schooling, when the parents were busy shifting base to get her admitted. The script plays too much with logic for an issue-based film that has already been tax-exempted in some states. How was Raj managing his business, for example, from the slums?

The second half sees a lot of incidents crammed in just over an hour and the proceedings get too complicated and makes us restive. There is a strong undercurrent of the right emotions in the climax, but the denouement messes up the sentiments as the film goes completely awry.

Technically, the film is average, and the music is functional. Amitosh Nagpal’s dialogues are a plus point.

Another plus point is the performances. Irrfan Khan gets into a wry humor mode and as a doting and pampering husband and dedicated father gets his character pitch-perfect. Saba Qamar as his wife has a slightly harsh voice and features, but does well, especially vis-à-vis our experiences with Pakistani actresses. Dishita is a delight as Pia and Amrita Singh is effective, except in the last few sequences, as the principal. Sumit Gulati as Chhotu and Deepak Dobriyal as Shyam Prakash are exceptional.

Overall, this is a decent effort with moments that connect both on a social and an individual level, but the end is a slipshod culmination and pulls down the film, just like the last film of Khan in the lead – “Madaari.”

Such films need an idealistic, even if part unreal, solution though some end up with cynical pessimism. Very few movies have practical solutions to real, fulminating issues. But over here, the film ends up making none of these choices. The way the parents go in the end seems forced and a shade incredible, and that too when we had expected (but never got!) some simple gratification and optimistic solution in the sequences featuring the principal and the hero.

Rating: ***

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