‘Half Girlfriend’ movie review: Not half, this one is a full tedious watch
I happened to read ‘Half Girlfriend’ in 2014. When in school, friends said I wouldn’t be ‘cool’ if I didn’t read Chetan Bhagat’s novels. I used to like them initially, until Bhagat took a twisted turn towards more hypothetical stories. Last year when news of ‘Half Girlfriend’ being made into a film broke, I had a hiccup. Right now, I am having many of them.
Let’s not waste time. Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor), a guy hailing from Buxar, Bihar, lands up in Delhi and enrolls himself to St. Stephens, one of Delhi’s most prestigious colleges . Madhav’s poor English with a heavy Bhojpuri accent often plays spoilsport. Thankfully a state level basketball player, he gets through college with the help of sports quota. Cupid probably had some other plans for him, and he meets Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor). Riya, a beautiful, rich, high-profile Delhi girl, is eons apart from Madhav in every aspect; but bonds well with Madhav, thanks to their mutual love for basketball. Madhav falls in love hard and fast, but Riya isn’t ready to be his girlfriend. That’s where the very complicating ‘Half Girlfriend’ theory creeps in. Madhav has an evil idea of being physically intimate with Riya and ends up abusing her. (Dena Hai Toh De, Varna Kat Le… AHEM!) This results in a massive crack in their relationship. Over a course of events, Riya suffers an abusive marriage and a disheartened, devastated Madhav, unable to bear Riya’s absence, goes back to his village and concentrates on his village’s welfare, where his mother runs a small school. Destiny, however, unites them through a fragile, thin bond of familiarity and suppressed affection, a few years later, in Bihar. Oh, and meanwhile Bill Gates comes to visit Bihar and promises financial aid to the keen educationists of the state. I never thought two lost souls could reunite, thanks to BILL GATES! But we can’t blame Mohit Suri here. The entire first half is nothing but a blatant adaptation of the book. Will their ‘half relationship’ ever come to a full circle? Only destiny knows, and knows Suri; not even Gates!
Method acting doesn’t always work out. Madhav Jha is so far the most divergent character Arjun Kapoor has played; and it doesn’t look like he was very comfortable in Madhav’s shoes. That is not to say we question his acting abilities. Give him one ‘Aurangzeb’ or one ‘Finding Fanny’, he will show you his prowess. But not here. The best diction coach or many of Mohit Suri’s script reading sessions didn’t help Arjun assimilate his character’s best traits. As a result, Madhav Jha turns out to be a person whose crisis never comes completely real, and never connects to his dilemma; especially after the first half (since that’s when the melodrama begins). Shraddha Kapoor looks even more plastic, and never manages to inhale the ethos of her role altogether. While she supposed to be a woman torn between her own choices and the choices that others make for her, the conflicts lived by Shraddha look ersatz; much to our dismay. The only performer in ‘Half Girlfriend’ is Vikrant Massey, who pulls himself throughout.
The most noticeable drawback in the screenplay of ‘Half Girlfriend’ is, none of the characters are convincing. An honest, grounded, soft-spoken Madhav Jha who is studying sociology because he demands to understand how “Bihar is as it is” and wants to uplift his village, easily gives in to his friend’s plans to drag Riya Somani into his room and ask for s*x. Riya Somani, who takes no offence of Madhav’s very poor English and very fetchingly declares “Hum Kya Kehte Hai Woh Important Hota Hai, Kaunsi Language Mein, Woh Nahi”, communicates with him in her affluent English for the rest of the film. To our surprise, he manages to make sense out of them. Madhav’s mother, the Rani Saheba of Simrao, a widow who brought her son up singlehandedly and taught him to never give up on life, strangely turns into a woman with orthodox outlook as soon as she comes to know her son is mixing up with a divorcee woman; and delivers sleazy dialogues like “Chhodne Ki Aadat Hai Aap Ko. College, Husband, Thali Mein Khana”. Hiccups! The list can go on. On top of that, the second half is unbearably slow. We’re more desperate for the love story to come to a conclusion, more than Madhav himself is.
The production of ‘Half Girlfriend’ is rather a little saviour. In Mohit Suri’s films, songs are like scenes; they escalate the story. Here, ‘Baarish’ and ‘Phir Bhi Tum Ko Chahunga’, two soothing numbers, will manage to grow on you. Rest are to simply add emotional quotient. The film has been decently shot. But a thousand slow claps for the miserable VFX of Bill Gates. I mean, how?
Skipping ‘Half Girlfriend’ won’t be a loss. However, watch if you are in for a predictable and heavy-hearted love story.