22 May 2017

'Hindi Medium': Review

A review of 'Hindi Medium':

Some people think a movie must not merely entertain but must also have a 'social message'. But movie is a fictional art and fictional art's primary purpose is to entertain. If it directly tries to give a 'social message', it will deviate from its basic purpose. It will become boring and preachy – and it will fail. But if it tries to do it indirectly – without deviating from its basic purpose of entertaining (by emotionally connecting with the audience) – then it can work. Now imagine an entertaining movie about big issues like society, development and poverty. Impossible? Well, writer-director Saket Chaudhary has achieved the impossible with his Hindi Medium.

A Chandni Chowk businessman's (Irfan Khan) wife (Pakistani actress Saba Qamar) wants to put their daughter into a prestigious Delhi school. So begins their Great Indian Circus: the School Admission – an endless merry-go-round of applications, consultants, interviews and lists. Hindi Medium starts off as a hilarious comedy about our education system. But it doesn't stop there. Saket Chaudhary has something much bigger in mind. He gradually widens the lens to look at no less a subject than Indian society itself.

Hindi Medium examines all the 3 sections of our society: rich, middle class and poor. The rich think modernisation means Westernisation and de-Indianisation. The middle class are desperate to become like them. And the poor struggle for the basic needs of life. Hindi Medium ruthlessly exposes our hypocrisies and double standards on every major issue – be it language, education or culture. It looks at Indian society better than any sociology textbook. It looks at development better than any economics textbook. And all this while being a heart-warming entertainer throughout.

70 years after getting freedom, most of our people still don't have a decent life. Hindi Medium brutally looks at this harsh reality – but never becomes even remotely depressing at any point. When you walk out of the theatre, you have a smile on your face. Why? Two reasons. First reason: though we still face grave challenges, we know that things are slowly improving. And second reason? It is right in front of your eyes – a movie like Hindi Medium has been made, and people are watching it (and liking it). Why does this matter? It does matter. Because if we can look at ourselves mercilessly – through the eyes of an honest and courageous artist (like Saket Chaudhary), then something must be right with us.

Hindi Medium is ambitious, brilliant and powerful. Watch it. Tell your friends to watch it. Tell them to tell their friends . . . (OK, you get the idea)

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