‘Hindi Medium’ review: Too school for cool

A scene from the movie.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Whether you’ve spent a week in Delhi or a lifetime, it’s no secret that in the Capital, money and politics speak the loudest. Language doesn’t really matter, as long as you can throw a wad of cash around or flaunt a political connection. But no amount of money or even a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office can help you get your kid enrolled in a private English medium school, or so Hindi Medium tells you.

We’ve all seen this family: a businessman father, stay-at-home mother and an only child. Perhaps some of us are them. Staying in Delhi’s famous and infamous Chandni Chowk, Hindi Medium’s family is happy in their ecosystem. That is, until they realise that they have to get their daughter enrolled in a private English medium school and leave the familiarity of old Delhi.

For the sake of their child’s education the Batra family move to Vasant Vihar, a posh neighbourhood, which equates fluency in English with success and class. The parents, Raj (Irrfan Khan) and Mita Batra (Saba Qamar), face an onslaught of clichéd and exaggerated hurdles, which are thankfully coated in humour. The desperation for social acceptance by the couple is justified as a move to secure their daughter’s future in the English speaking world. For that, the Batras also enroll themselves in a school admission consultancy of sorts, thereby starting a rigmarole of interviews and mock sessions.

Despite hilariously sincere efforts, Raj and Mita remain unsuccessful. But they remain hellbent on getting their kid into the elite ‘Delhi Grammar School’, headed by Ms. Lodha (Amrita Singh). Here’s when Raj discovers a loophole in the system – the Right to Education Act – which would require them to be poor, or at least pretend to be, to avail privileges of. Since children are every Indian parents’ investment for a comfortable retirement, the Batras willingly uproot themselves once again and move temporarily to a basti.

Hindi Medium

    In tandem with the film’s motto to pander to stereotypes, the poor are shown to be better at heart than the snooty English speaking corporate drones. But the clichés are harmless, and somewhat enjoyable. The film refrains from sinking into an often-seen oscillatory pattern of being funny and preachy, but you know when a film like this is all laughs, it’s secretly building up a repository of lectures which it will unleash in one long monologue. And that inevitably belongs to Irrfan Khan in Hindi Medium. It’s a movie that starts off well, and sails smoothly but dives downwards with an utterly illogical, preachy, and lazy ending.

    Despite mediocre and forgettable camerawork, unexciting editing and an eventually dawdling storyline, Khan and Qamar’s companionship, comfort and charm is unwavering. Admission in a prestigious school maybe shown as a quick fix to poverty and a fast train towards upward social mobility, but look beyond and you will find a funny film being driven by goodwill and engaging performances.

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    Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 12:08:46 AM |

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