Half Girlfriend movie review: Doesn't work even if you leave half your brain out before watching
It is quite interesting that both the Bollywood releases this week (Hindi Medium and Half Girlfriend) deal with India's (in)capability to speak English. However, while smaller-budget Hindi Medium makes a point, Half Girlfriend makes you want to fist-bump yourself in the face, preferably with Hulk's fist.
Mohit Suri takes Chetan Bhagat's insipid novel Half Girlfriend and turns it into a full-blown movie that cavorts around Delhi, Patna, Simrao, and then New York. The novel was no page-turner and the movie is just as bad, if not worse.
A friend asked me to walk out half-way if I hated the movie. I told him – “Gaali half nahin chodte (you don't leave abusing half-way)”. I watched the full movie so as I could abuse it well.
Sir, I am from small village...
Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) comes from the small village of Simrao to 'St Steven's' in Delhi. On the wait list to join the national basketball team, Madhav secures his seat in the college through the sports quota. He falls in love with Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor) who seems to play basketball with as much sincerity as a kitten ignoring a ball thrown at it.
While Madhav falls head over heels for Riya, Riya chooses to be his half-girlfriend – dost se zyada, girlfriend se kum. Now why she would do that despite spending all her time with this boy is any body's guess.
Pushed by his friend Shailesh Pandey (Vikrant Massey) to solve his half-girlfriend conundrum, Madhav invites Riya to his hostel room. He tries to get cozy, she bails. Before that, of course, comes the explosive statement – Rehti hai to reh, warna kat le. Riya decides to end things, announces she is getting married, and disappears.
The rest of the movie is just Madhav either chasing Riya or trying to find her in some city or the other. The boy gets un-friendzoned only in the end, in New York City, in a room that overlooks Times Square. Priorities on fleek, Suri/Bhagat!
Abbey kya hai yaar!
The line – Rehti hai to reh, warna kat le – as it stands in the movie is a change from what Bhagat wrote in his book. The original statement was – Deti hai to de, warna kat le. And this is perhaps the only commendable thing in the entire movie, some sensitivisation has finally happened.
Besides that, the Half Girlfriend is painful. The song Tu Thodi Der Aur Theher Ja seems to be a fervent prayer from Suri, Bhagat and both the Kapoors to the audience. It plays throughout the movie, relentlessly.
The movie makes no case for the language 'issue' in the country. Madhav struggles with his English at his college interview, in a pitch to acquire money to build toilets in his mother's school, and finally, in the speech he makes in front of a terrible CGI Bill Gates (The CGI elephants in Baahubali 2 look more real than our friend Bill).
He shifts to his Hindi whenever he falters and that, according to the movie, makes everything he says more heartfelt and endearing. He bonds with Riya again by asking her to help him with his English speech.
The class and language divide – the fact that a rich South Delhi girl speaks impeccable English and can't quite get a sentence out in Hindi – is a given. She makes no attempt to learn better Hindi, the poor boy (actually, he is Bihari royalty) must learn English to get the girl.
Fist-bumps and friendzones
Much later in the movie he has a shot at genuine happiness with a girl whose Hindi is as bad as his English. He even gifts her a book so as she can learn Hindi, and you wonder, why did he not do that with his half-girlfriend!? She treats him like a full boyfriend, she is pretty and she seems to be making an effort.
But our hero will have none of that.
Bollywood has made crores out of men and women trampling over other people's hearts to make sure that the two people on the movie poster have a happily ever after. Half Girlfriend does the same – and frankly, it is exhausting. Supporting actors have feelings too, ok?!
To trim it down to the basics, Half Girlfriend is about a boy getting friendzoned till he ups his ante and meets the girl in New York. I have issues with the term 'friendzone' but I am not going to argue that here now.
The female protagonist lives her life as an escapist, making a dash for it the very moment she sees a fight. She blames it on a dysfunctional family life and the fact that she witnessed a lot of domestic violence while growing up. She says a terrible lie to get away from the only boy who loves her with the fierce loyalty of a rescue dog, she doesn't care two hoots about making her mother hysterical. Smooth.
You'll want to believe that the only coordinated thing this lady can do is a fist-bump.
Arjun Kapoor hams through the movie. He had more sincerity in Ishaqzaade. Shraddha Kapoor is terribly insipid and should seriously stop doing those rain scenes. They are trite and boring.
Vikrant Massey and Seema Biswas are a waste.
3 Idiots, 2 States, Kai Po Che (we will deliberately leave out Hello) were movies that ranged between 'decent' to 'good' because the plot had (some) meat and the directors did justice to the characters. Mohit Suri seems to have given up and Bhagat, well, don't even start us on him.
Should you watch it?
You want to watch a movie? Watch Guardian's of the Galaxy Vol 2 two more times, watch Baahubali 2 again. If you don't want to watch Hindi Medium that is. But don't do this to yourself.