Half Girlfriend Review

"Half Girlfriend" is based on Chetan Bhagat’s book of the same name. (Arjun Kapoor/Twitter photo)

Balaji Telefilms and Chetan Bhagat Entertainment present: “Half Girlfriend” Produced by: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Mohit Suri & Chetan Bhagat

Directed by: Mohit Suri

Written by: Chetan Bhagat, Tushar Hiranandani, Ishita Moitra

Music: Mithoon, Tanishk Bagchi, Rishi Rich, Farhan Saeed, Ami Mishra & Rahul Mishra

Starring: Shraddha Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Vikrant Massey, Seema Biswas, anisa Butt and others

MUMBAI—Wonder why Balaji Telefilms returned to filmmaking when they had gone off it after five or six consecutive flops? Considering this comeback of sorts is a half-baked concoction that is neither here nor there, neither a romantic story nor a social theme, not entertaining and not in any way educative, it is a blunder!

Chetan Bhagat’s books have never made a celluloid impact but for “2 States” – his “Five Point Someone” was changed into virtually another story in “3 Idiots.” Otherwise, “Hello” and “Kai Po Che” were also write-offs. But while each of them had some positive points as books, the same does not apply here.

Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) joins St. Stephen’s – one of Delhi’s best colleges – on a sports quota to get a Sociology education and degree so that he can help his village, in which his feisty mother (Seema Biswas) runs a school for boys. Why only boys? Because girl students need toilets and they cost big money to build!

However, Madhav temporarily sidelines his altruistic mission when he encounters Rhea (Shraddha Kapoor), also good in basketball, but a member of Delhi’s high society, complete with parents who are at loggerheads with each other but stretch their marriage on for society’s sake. Rhea and Madhav begin to play basketball, like each other, become friends, and she even spontaneously kisses him on the lips. She finally calls himself his ‘Half Girlfriend.’ Whazzat? No one bothers to explain, even after the movie’s over. No, they don’t sleep with each other.

Rhea then agrees to marriage to an NRI named Rohan, a friend of her family. Overnight, she leaves college, leaving Madhav shattered. He goes back to his village and by chance gets to know that the Bill Gates Foundation (!) will finance toilets (did no one in India have the moolah this needed?). And whaddayaknow? Madhav finds Rhea in Patna on work, now a divorcee. She helps him write the English speech to impress Billyboy. And then she vamooses, leaving a note that she is in the terminal stage of cancer.

Now, Madhav goes to his college mate (Vikrant Massey)’s home in New York with the intent of doing a job (or internship, whatever that means, as we are told). His real aim is to locate Rhea, who he is convinced must be wanting to fulfill her old ambition of singing to a crowd in a New York bar before she dies! But then it has been six months, and she had written she had three months to live. So his friend arranges a potential match with a pretty girl (Rhea Chakraborty). But can half-baked stories end on a sad note?

Just when we feel we are into some slightly improved (!!!) version of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,” Madhav spots Rhea, and finds out that the confused girl had left him because his feisty mom had told her to step out of his life as she was a divorcee and had left things – like colleges and husbands – halfway! Of course, now mommy is sorry – she did not know the girl was dying, see?

Addle-pated in concept and even more ludicrous in execution, the film is further pulled down by over-intrusive background music (Raju Singh) and an endless array of bad songs and corny dialogues (Ishita Moitra) for every smart or moving line. Vishnu Rao’s camerawork is suddenly erratic on many occasions, and the editing (Deven “Dhoom” franchise fame Murdeshwar) shockingly inept. Mohit Suri gets the emotions right on negligible occasions but overdoes the rest.

The two Kapoors as lead pairs try their sincere best, but as with Shraddha in her last three films, everything else goes wrong. Her expressions many times are bang-on though. Massey is good, and Rhea Chakraborty and Anisa Butt (as Massey’s reel wife) are alright. Biswas has a confused role, and the rest of the characters are ho-hum, the needless joker in the pack is the guy who plays Bill Gates!

After “Hamari Adhuri Kahani,” this is another “Poori” (Full) flop for the director, who needs to brush up his act. Clearly, half-measures like “Half Girlfriend” will simply not do in a timeframe where audiences have evolved to the level of a “Bahubali 2” or a “Badrinath Ki Dulhania.”

Rating: *1/2

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