Indians fought the British for more than a century to win freedom. Political freedom we did win, but not the freedom of mind. The thoughts that enslaved us have been passed from generation to generation and we aspire to be clones of our brethren in the West. And that gives a massive business opportunity to peddlers of education, where good and not-so good schools have come up promising to make our kids the new Brown Sahibs. Not only are the peddlers successful in making tons of money, the demand is so huge that they can play god to our children’s future. Not just the schools, a full ancillary business has developed to prepare kids and their parents help children get admitted even to primary schools. To that extent, the aims of Hindi Medium is lofty.
Raj Batra (Irrfan) and Mita (Saba Qamar) and their little daughter are a new-in-the money family. Raj has come up the hard way – from a tailor to become a garment shop owner and is more than happy to live in his ancestral Chandni Chowk residence. Mita however is more upwardly mobile who has aspirations to mingle with the trendsetting crowd of Delhi. They need to move to Vasant Vihar to be perceived as one of the jet set. And they need to get their daughter in one of the few “good” schools- good meaning a school with the latest and the best that money can buy and yes, speak only in English. The same folks who refuse to speak Hindi or other regional languages are proud to show off their fluency in foreign languages.
Vasant Vihar crowd is snooty, never forgetting to pass snide remarks on Raj’s profession as a shopkeeper. They consider a job in an MNC being the end goal for all the hard work. Though exaggerated, this part is not far from the truth. It’s a world where the wife would rather be called honey rather than a mitthu. A lot of details have been looked into while portraying middle class Delhi. The scene where Irrfan’s assistant shows a to-be-bride and customer an “original copy” of Manish Malhotra creations is clever and funny. Many a naïve young girl fall for the charms of dresses advertised through svelte pretty models and end up thinking they will look just as good if they get “that dress”.
From such a great buildup, Hindi Medium goes completely pedestrian. From a slightly fantastic turn in the story where the family goes to live as a poor family in a decrepit neighborhood to the highly unbelievable scene where Raj rejects the one goal that he struggled so much for, there is not a single redeeming point in the movie. While the Vasant Vihar crowd is shown as arrogant and conceited, which may not be all untrue, the other side of the society is painted whiter than white. Everybody in the poor neighbourhood has a golden heart, they are ready to come under a car if it helps their friend, the most fights that happen is loud screaming and all are basically honest who would not steal anybody else’s money. And the solution is laughable – to show solidarity with the have-nots, the rich should send their children to government schools and not the reputed ones.
Irrfan and Qamar are excellent in their respective parts. He as a devoted husband trying to keep his wife happy. She an anxious and nagging wife whose major fear is that their daughter will take to drugs if she doesn’t get the right schooling. Some scenes like faking photos in foreign locations for Facebook is funny. Had Hindi Medium kept up the tempo it set in the beginning, it would have been a winner. Instead it decided to get into the inspirational realm and completely lost touch with reality and even the audience. A wasted opportunity.
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53718648
Rating : 2/5
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Deepak Dobriyal
Director: Saket Chaudhary