Hindi Medium: An underdog shouting in whispers
Just finished watching the 133.26 – minute long Hindi Medium for the second time in a rather packed cinema hall. The film started with the National Anthem that had an English transliteration playing live on screen. Personally, the situation felt like quite an oxymoron to me. Hindi Medium, which released with Half Girlfriend, has beaten the latter in both business and noble intent. While Half Girlfriend hovers in circles around the formulae of a potboiler, Hindi Medium runs like a race horse with blinkers on its eyes. With the single focus of a hard-hitting satire, it does its job well. Before it sounds too sweet, I have a couple of things to say (In my defense). One, this is not a review it’s a layman’s reaction. Two, it’s not a critique, it is film appreciation.
Hindi Medium is a social satire that is a clear example of the wonders that fine dialogue writing and casting can do to a story. It proves that if these two are in place, then you don’t necessarily need to spend lavishly on locations. The film, which begins as Hindi Vs English, eventually ends as Private Vs Public. What happens in between is a mélange of bizarre events that will crack your funny bone and once its fractured, then plaster it with sarcasm. It’s a social satire that quintessentially needed good performers to support.
Casting and Ensemble
Honey Trehan’s casting is to the point. Even for single scenes, he has cast actors who’ve proven their mettle in major films. From Internet sensation Mallika Dua to Rajesh Sharma to Neha Dhupia and Taran Bajaj – everybody is aware of their function in the film and have managed to perform with an understated control. One can point out the improvisations but everything is perfectly in sync with the overall tone of the film. Tillotama Shome is sensational. So is Amrita Singh who is affable and menacing in equal measures. The child actor Dishita Sehgal has been directed well to bring out her innocence. Saba and Irrfan’s chemistry is highly believable and transports you to Chandni Chowk. Saba’s dialogue where she talks about their daughter at risk of taking drugs is hilarious. It works as a humorous takiyakalam (Catchphrase). And of course, there is an unmatched chemistry between Irrfan and Deepak Dobriyal. These two actors are definitely like old wine, getting better with every performance. They have not merely acted but co-painted in the frames. Dobriyal’s ability to humanize all his characters and be hyper realistic in his approach of characters is his genius. One can deeply feel for his character’s pathos. Irrfan and Dobriyal’s scenes together were the reason why I went for an encore.
Hindi Medium and English Vinglish
Okay, this could be just me. But I felt that there was an uncanny brotherhood that Hindi Medium shared with Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish. Both the films talk about the prejudice around the lack of being able to speak the English language, of how the language has become a symbol of class. The titling of both the films was in Hinglish. Both the films were supported by a set of amazing actors who have catapulted an otherwise ordinary script to extraordinary levels. Both the films had powerful dialogue writing.
Return of Monologue
Monologues have always been used as tools to show a character’s journey, growth and catharsis. These days we don’t get to see monologues in films that often. The last monologue of the film delivered by Irrfan is textbook material. It changes the tone of the film. The actor is thoroughly enjoying the lines and has made them his own. Much like Amitabh Bacchan’s dialogue from Namak Halal, which again happens to be about English. While Irrfan was still at it one of the audience members who came to watch the film with her daughter murmured, “Wow!” Amitosh Nagpal’s writing is to the point.
Music done right
The film has five songs in its album. Two are remixes and three original tracks. Ho Ho Ho Ho, Sukhbir is back! Unlike the trend of playbacks in Hindi films, this song has been placed in a diegetic manner with a DJ playing it in a house party. It perfectly fits into the scheme of things. Guru Randhawa’s song ‘Suit Suit’ too is aptly used in the end credit roll. Even if you’ve seen the original video, you forget the characters in the music video. All you can visualize are Raj (Irrfan’s character) and Mithu (Saba’s character). There is a track ‘Fakiri’ by Kabir Cafe. This song by Neeraj Arya is highly addictive. T Series is known for melody in their films. And this film continues the streak for the company.
I’d like to end with bringing some focus on the film’s poster which says, “Cheating, lying. The parents who’ll do anything to get their children into the right school.” There is an exclamation mark on one side of the text and a question mark on the other. This interrobang of sorts is Hindi Medium, which takes your attention on the issue and then makes you question your deeds and belief system. Poverty is more than something to be shocked of, isn’t it something whose cause is to be questioned!?