wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
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.Read more
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/.
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