Hindi Medium - Review

wogma rating: The keen must watch on screen; else DVD (?)
quick review:

The film uses mildly-comical satire to put its point across. However, the problem arises when writers fail to wrap it up as satire and succumb to sermonizing.

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If you have seen its trailer then you already know the major plot points of Hindi Medium. Perhaps you also know that it is a message-driven film. What pulls you into the theater, however, is the promise of witnessing satisfying performances by a carefully assembled cast. The good news is that the promise is fulfilled, not entirely but mostly. But, the performances would be lackluster if not for good writing. And In that department, the dialogs and screenplay both come out as clear winners. The dialogs are tickling and the screenplay is engaging.

The story focuses on carrying out a gentle, gradual but thorough exposé of our school system, particularly the problems and practices arising out of an over-competitive admission process. The screenplay deserves full marks for using this particular subject as a knife to cut a cross-section through the strata of urban India, exposing how a child's education is perceived and approached in the middle, lower-middle and upper-middle classes.

It uses mildly-comical satire to put this point across. However, the problem arises when writers fail to wrap it up as satire and succumb to sermonizing. This is the film's biggest flaw. There was no need of a sermon because the gravity had been amply demonstrated otherwise. It could have remained a tale of quiet realization, introspection, and transformation.

Why declare one's transformation in public? Perhaps, because we are used to making heroes out of our protagonists. And a protagonist isn't heroic enough if it does not go all preachy. Also, I guess, we suffer from the need to cleanse ourselves of our misdoings by holding someone (the system) responsible. We pick a figure of authority and put all the blame on it. I feel sad that the film felt the need to create a semi-villain when the real problem is our own aspiration.

Other relatively less unpleasant flaws include: a) The compulsion to include songs, even if a couple, and even if as part of the background score. The poetry of their lyrics doesn't blend with the matter-of-fact approach of the screenplay. And b) A general lack of cinematographic exploration in the film. It is evenly and brightly lit, and a happy, comedic mood prevails through say eighty percent of the film. Which makes it easy on the eyes, but makes it less hard-hitting than it could have been.

In the department of performances, Irrfan Khan is effortless although it seems he has been typecast--you have seen him in similar acts before. But I guess, very few actors possess the prowess to look the part as well as remain distanced enough to convey satire. That quality makes him a perfect choice for this role. Saba Qamar's lisp takes some getting used to, but she soon slides into her character and snap-fits into it. She handles a variety of demanding scenes well, most of which appear in the 'poverty' act. Deepak Dobriyal brings authenticity to his part of optimistic lower-middle-class man, Tillotama Shome surprises with her elite act, and Swati Das deserves a bouquet of roses for her short but noticeable performance. Amrita Singh is a superb choice for her cameo but oddly the writers have made her look more feeble than powerful.

Most of the extras look like...well... extras--positioned in the background to fill up space, sometimes embarrassingly clueless, sometimes well-briefed. Sadly though, Neha Dhupia's and Sanjay Suri's cameos are also reduced to an 'extra' performance. :(

Overall, Hindi Medium had the potential to be an impactful film but for various reasons mentioned above, it doesn't fare more than a good-for-one-time watch. So, those really keen on witnessing congenial writing and performances should watch it in theaters, others can wait for the DVD/TV release.

This review is by guest reviewer Jeet. Jeet is a workaholic turned film addict, and vice-versa. Basically, when he is not working, he is watching films. And when he isn't watching films, he is working. The funny thing is films are also a part of his work. Go figure! Jeet also blogs at https://www.facebook.com/groups/736281183136110/.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A person being hit by a car (nothing gruesome though)
  • Language: Mostly clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A couple expressing the need for physical intimacy
  • Concept: Comical satire
  • General Look and Feel: Clean, happy, over lit

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 4
  • Lead Actors: 3.5
  • Character Artists: 2
  • Dialogues: 3
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 2
  • Lyrics: 2

Hindi Medium - Movie Details

Hindi Medium - Trailer

Comments (1)

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Fan:

Which Indian parent has not gone through the trauma of getting their children admitted to a school of their choice. The whole system nowadays is frightful and ridiculously nonsensical. And the promos of Hindi Medium make it amply clear as to what to expect in the film.

The story of yet another hapless couple trying to get their child admitted to an elite school. Remove the elite tag and I guess that the challenges would remain the same.

The movie starts off on a comic note. The first half in fact is a good guffawed watch. Irfan Khan being in repeat (and superb) mode from Piku, with his dry humour and ironical yet true observations.

The trouble with the film is the second half, where the film starts dragging. To be quite frank there are only just a limited quantity of jokes and situational comedy that one can generate from the subject of trying to get your child admitted to a school. And so post interval the film loses steam. And then it just plods on from one event to another which would rarely happen in the real life.

Performance wise, Irfan Khan is brilliant with his humour. The Pakistani import playing the role of the Mrs. is quite impressive, leaves an imprint. But the outstanding actor in the film is Deepak Dobriyal. He completely overshadows Irfan Khan. Rest all are fine. Wonder why Neha Dhupia and her male co-star agreed to do this film, their roles being extremely sidey oriented.

Epilogue: I would have so loved the film to send a strong message against the nonsensical Indian education admittance system wherein 4 year olds have to go through plethora of tests, and the parents too. Also, with a name like Hindi Medium, I was half expecting a case being made for the vernacular schools. But that too was not to be. I suppose the producers wanted to make a light hearted bordering on comedy film, something like the Munnabhai duo-logy, to convey a message. If that was the intention then they failed. Stay away from the film, the trailers are a better alternative.

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