Directed By: Saket Chaudhary
Produced By: T Series, Dinesh Vijan
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3.5/5
There was this girl who spent twelve precious years in a Government school. Her childhood was spent amidst the broken windows, a small court inside the boundary where her classmates fought over the football (and her tiffin boxes would often serve the purpose), the dusted wooden benches, the frequent off periods, and very little English. By the end of the day, her shirt would often hang lose out of her skirt, and her hair would be messy. She fancied a garden in school but there was none, except for that huge tamarind tree that stood lonely outside the building. She would listen to her cousins, Orkut friends and playmates with bewildered looks as they discussed school fests, Christmas parties and basketball matches. She would think twice before she spoke a single sentence in English. May be she would sound funny? Many years down the line, a 25-year-old woman moved out of the ‘Hindi Medium’ press show with a content heart and moist eyes; thanking god for shaping her childhood in the best way possible.
Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) and Mita Batra (Saba Qamar) are just another set of parents who, incapacitated against the system, have surrendered to the labyrinth of a sheeny education system, something that often proves to be gloating in reality. Raj, who originally was a tailor and fell in love with Mita in his youth, now owns a huge fashion store. However, the promotion has happened just in his financial and living cachet; he otherwise very much remains the Raj from Chandni Chowk in the best of his behaviour. Mita, however, is desperate to get her daughter admitted to one of Delhi’s best English medium schools. She almost faints at the very name of a Government school. After spending a fat amount on a counsellor and putting the poor child through the roller coaster of many tutelage, they find themselves nowhere as the child fails to break through any of the schools. The last option remaining is to exploit the RTE (Right To Education) quota for impoverished children. What Raj and Mita do next, is what many parents must’ve planned in the past; no pun intended!
Irrfan Khan literally brought his crisis to life and we could sense his conflicts; the conflict between Chandni Chowk and posh Delhi, the conflict between a father’s duty and a man’s morals, the conflict between wanting to become a perfect man and wanting to become the perfect husband. Throughout the film, the eyes were glued to him as he found himself torn between moments and circumstances. The next surprise was Saba Qamar. How sad that Mahira Khan receives all the world’s hype as she debuts opposite Shah Rukh Khan but no one gives a damn to this young, beautifully expressive woman as she teams up with not SRK, not Salman, not Aamir but Irrfan Khan for her debut Bollywood outing? And, the one to add just the right emotional quotient to the story was Deepak Dobriyal. Don’t know why Amrita Singh keeps coming back as this angry not-so-young woman foiled in a character guilty of much; but she does it well.
‘Hindi Medium’ is a well-shot film with situationally perfect songs and properly paced screenplay with right infusion of humour. Just in the second half, it lags a bit and probably could be shortened to approximately ten minutes. But move over these. It elevates, raises important questions.
We, as a country, have got our share of an unfair obsession towards everything Western. Soaps, bath towels, lingeries, chocolates, holiday destinations; and well, why not the language too? Not any other foreign language but only English makes the cut. What was supposed to be cherished as an enriched literature and remove the barrier of language in global knowledge-exchange, became a barrier itself. What was supposed to be a means of flamboyant communication, started ceasing the weaker ones from communicating. We, the privileged ones, comfortably took it up as a status-quo, leaving our own roots dusted, unnoticed. And not to forget, we get ready to kill when the child gets any bit of English wrong. We wean education away from its purpose and push the child to a decaying colour of rootlessness. Sounds scary? It is.
‘Hindi Medium’ is particularly a relevant watch because it will pinch your eyes and show you that your desperation for your child’s ‘best education’ can often lead you to despair. Do not, and DO NOT kill the slush of childhood. The tender moments spent wrapped in compassion and a real connection to the society will teach him what the air conditioned classrooms and luxurious swimming pools won’t.
Strikes a chord, doesn’t it?