Hindi Medium movie review: Delightfully funny & leaves you with food for thought
There are films that use humour to lampoon a certain section of the society, and there are films that take themselves too seriously, just to drive a point home. But Saket Chaudhary's Hindi Medium strikes a fascinating balance between the two, often tipping over, only to be saved by a hilarious dialogue or two.
The first half of the film has one in splits, as Raj (Irrfan Khan) and Mita (Saba Qamar) suffer the same treatment an awkward kid at a new high school would. The couple, new rich from Old Delhi's Chandni Chowk, move to South Delhi's Vasant Vihar, for their child to gain admission into an 'e-light' school, as Mita pronounces it.
Their neighbours are unsurprisingly snooty, rather distant, and completely judgmental. They're in no mood to entertain, or even acknowledge, this obviously 'Hindi type' couple.
As luck would have it, Raj and Mita have none. They try everything to get their daughter Piya – a perfectly ordinary child – into one of the 'four best schools' in Delhi. But no matter how many lessons the parents take in etiquette from the brilliant Tilottama Shome, who plays a bemused trainer of sorts. Her job, well placed for satire, is that she trains kids and their parents into high-society robots of sorts who utter only socially acceptable, politically correct statements.
But of course, Raj and Mita fail stupendously, and so they must try everything shady in their power to get their child the education she deserves. 'Connections' fail, bribes fail, and the only option left is to pretend to be poor to gain access to Right to Education quota.
This is where the film takes a risky dark turn, and fortunately for us, it pulls through. That, coupled with Deepak Dobriyal's brilliant portrayal of a poor man with a heart of gold and some amazing dialogues make Hindi Medium a convincing desi sitcom.
In one scene, Dobriyal's character explains the problem of being new poor for being poor is a lifestyle.
“Hum khaandani gardeeb hai,” he says, proudly establishing his understanding of poor.
It shows the dark comedy in the situation, for evidently, Raj and Mita fail at being new poor just as much as being new rich. That no matter how poor a middle class person may think they are, they're never actually poor.
The actors in the film are carefully picked by Chaudhary, especially the one's on the side. However, Saba Qamar's convincing portrayal of an upper middle class woman trying her best to climb up the class ladder is a treat to watch. She's a woman we've all known, a woman who enjoys a life beyond the one she's restricted herself to, but she can't, because she needs to be rich, and needs to appear rich.
Irrfan Khan's dialogue delivery is as humourous as it is in anything he's ever been in, except in Hindi Medium it comes through as a running commentary to everything that's happening in the film. Khan's Raj voices a lot of what we think while watching the film, and that's a quirky narrative trope to employ.
The film falters towards the end, trying to preach something it has already successfully established. Plus it makes an unnecessary villain out of school principal Amrita Singh.
Never steering towards poverty porn, Hindi Medium suddenly puts poor kids quite literally on a stage. It also ends up pandering to the melodrama it seems to laugh at over the rest of the film.
Fortunately for us, it ends with the song Tainu Suit Suit Karda, a song that outside of the context of this film is just another Punjabi pop song. But here, it sums up the message of humility far more effectively than a monologue Irrfan Khan subjects the viewer to.
Plus, it is pretty damn funny a song.
Should you watch it?
Absolutely. Hindi Medium is a film that surprises you with the number of things it attempts to talk about with the help of humour. And all of us could use a few laughs.