This charming and hilarious film delivers on what it promises based on its two main trump cards : the script and Irrfan Khan.
All that you remember from your early school days is how you spend your time there. Rarely do we know the backstory behind us getting into that school. Hindi Medium allows us to ponder upon that story. Of course, our admissions may not have reached such dramatic levels as shown in the film. But with the kind of news we hear lately, you may relate to the struggle of Raj and Mita when you become a part of that back-story.
Our Chandni Chowk business tycoon Raj Batra doesn’t lack for anything in his life – except for a proficiency in English. Which, in India, is a thing to be ashamed of. After all, as Mita puts it : “English yaha ek zubaan nahi, class hai“. They don’t want their daughter Pia to go through the same humiliations that they did. And hence, begins the pursuit of getting her admitted to one of the topmost schools in Delhi. For that they can go to any lengths : from trying to fit into the “high class society” by shifting to an upper class household to living with slum dwellers only to get her in through the RTE act when the former plan failed to work.
The already absurd events that happen during school admission these days makes a gold mine for comedy, and writers Zeenat Lakhani and Saket Chaudhary don’t miss a beat in extracting them all. They do make the high society people as caricatures, but perfectly create the Chandni Chowk wale and the slum dwellers. The comedy though is more for the parents than for the kids. It is actually a relief that the film doesn’t try to cater to its young audience even though the story has a lot to do with them. Because then, the film could have lost its satirical value.
There were moments where I felt I was watching a Raju Hirani film. Its comedy had that standard where you can’t help but laugh. And Hindi Medium retains that comedy for its entire runtime except for its third act.
It is in the final moments where the film runs short of becoming excellent. There is that climactic speech which wraps up all that the film wanted to convey till then, in case you missed any. While there’s nothing wrong about it, the drama doesn’t hit as hard as in, say ,one of Hirani’s films. Hindi Medium gives endless laughter, sure. But it couldn’t well up our eyes when it tried to. The direction by debutant Saket Chaudhary had been consistently unimpressive. While the sharp writing made up for it uptil then, the shortcoming was truly exposed when even the script wobbled.
Say what you may, none of these nitpickings mattered to Irrfan as he steals every frame he is given. You get the aura of a good-at-heart, modest and fun-loving man the moment he comes on screen. I believe it is this quality – of giving layers to the most simplest of characters – that makes actors like Khan truly great. I cannot imagine Hindi Medium working without him.
Saba Qamar provides ample support. There is a cameo by an “internet sensation” which cannot be missed. And then there is our very own Pappi bhaiyya from the Tanu Weds Manu series (a.k.a Deepak Dobriyal) whose entry would garner some whistles if the audience knows his work. Amrita Singh suffers from the most badly written character, with even lesser screen time. After 2 States, she should have got a lot of interesting roles by now.
Overall, Hindi Medium fails to make us cry, but succeeds exceedingly well in making us laugh. And, it puts its point across quite well. Aren’t these reasons enough for you to go out there and check it out?