: Madhav Jha (Arjun) a rustic boy from Bihar who is drawn to his college-mate, Riya Somani (Shraddha), an affluent English-speaking girl from Delhi. There’s just one hitch here. Riya is willing to go thus far and no further; Madhav continues being obsessed with her. Will the Bihar boy and the Delhi girl make it past the half-way mark?
: The assumption that many have read Chetan Bhagat’s 2014 novel of the same name should be a safe one because Bhagat’s fluff has its own following. But, Half Girlfriend is definitely not one of his best works. So, Mohit Suri (Aashiqui2, Ek Villain) gives us a celluloid outing that is thodafun and largely exasperating.
The fun bit comes from watching the Simrao boy (pronounced bai) struck by a thunderbolt when he spots the Delhi dame. And the brave attempts chalk makes in going for cheese is also endearing. Imagine this; he can barely speak a smattering of English and she behaves like she is a rather late-in-the day British import. Yet, it’s understandable that they find an escape in basketball and music. Before long, Madhav’s infatuation becomes a fatal attraction. His college-buddy Shailesh (Vikrant Massey, pitch-perfect performance) warns him of the danger of driving into a one-way street but Madhav, who is perennially in Majnu mode by then, pays no heed.
The frustrating bit for Madhav and for the audience is that Riya is commitment-phobic. Her dost se zyada but girlfriend se kum stance seems non-negotiable and stops you from investing in her halfway through the film.
Back to apna Madhav, fate smiles on him a couple of times later when his path crosses that of Riya’s. And he chases her from Patna to New York (even dragging Bill Gates into proceedings) with a doggedness that should appeal to the countless stalkers, who shame society every day.
The first half breezes through, but post interval proceedings hang; in tandem with the hangdog expression worn by the hero. Arjun is sincere, but seems too urban for an ideal `Bihari’ fit. And Shraddha, who looks her loveliest here, lacks gravitas.
As far as the ensemble music album goes--Manoj Muntashir’s Phir Bhi Main Tumko Chahoonga, the only track that has real recall is lyrically-adequate but Mithoon’s tune is not compelling enough. Finally, half girlfriend or boyfriend is that person many of us have encountered on campus. However, do we really want to relive those memories? It depends entirely on the mood.
Our overall critics rating is not an average of the sub score below.
When a guy meets his college crush's parents at a champagne brunch, his first impression of the middle-aged couple is — "Kaafi sundar jodi hain." When he's introduced, her father is a bit puzzled. "Jha, as in?" He responds with, "I'm from Bihar, sir." This clarification crinkles the concerned father's forehead. Later, we see all the uniformed waiters at the do acknowledging this Bihari with much adulation and even groping him for a selfie because, well, they all belong to the same state. But shameless stereotyping is not the film's only problem.
Adapting from literature is always a challenge. Will the words find a suitable form? Will the visuals establish an appropriate tone and mood? Will the characters live up to the mental image their description conjured in prose? But these concerns can be put to rest as this is based on Chetan Bhagat's excuse for a love story by the same name. When below average writing meets overenthusiastic hamming, it's like being simultaneously inflicted with a leg wound and a throbbing headache — you're reeling in pain from head to toe but can't tell which is more debilitating.
The film opens to a college interview. With Shakespearean vocal theatrics, an interviewer asks, "Why is Bihar the way it is?" The Bihari candidate, however, can't construct a sentence in the Bard's language because he has "come from village area". But implausible is nothing, so they allow him to respond in Hindi and he cracks the interview. Also a basketballer, Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) spends only a few minutes in campus before being smitten by Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor). While they meet on the court, he struggles in courtship and is tongue-tied when she rattles off in English. But his rural charm is impossible to resist, so Riya agrees to be his half girlfriend. What's that? We are yet to figure out.
Soon, Madhav's sense of entitlement and insecurity leads him to employ the only method (he knows) of evaluating whether a girl loves you — force yourself on her and later, resort to physical abuse. Needless to say, Riya's girlfriend percentage dips significantly following this.
The film takes a social turn as Madhav returns to his village of Simrao and takes up the cause of educating the girl child. This endevour requires him to seek funding from "Bill Gates-va" (Bihari for Bill Gates) and we get to experience the world's richest man being recreated using the world's poorest grade of CG. Almost like a sepia-toned newspaper cut-out, the American IT mogul appears like a Stephen Hawking Snapchat filter, where his mouth moves but the rest doesn't.
That Arjun Kapoor's ability as an actor has gone downhill following his promising debut in Ishaqzaade is not news. But here, with a mouthful of Bhojpuri, he's sunk to an archeological low. If Shraddha Kapoor invested one-fourth the effort this role demanded, she would've been twice as effective.
Director Mohit Suri's last venture Humari Adhuri Kahani left audiences terrified at the devastating ramifications of a complete kahani. But here, he manages to evoke more horror than he did in Raaz: The Mystery Continues. But the real raaz is, who is backing such films and is reading no longer a pre-requisite before signing on dotted lines?
When Riya returns to her palatial home to find her father bashing up her mother, she walks into her room, pulls out a guitar from under her bed and breaks into an unplugged number... "Stay a little longer with me"— a metaphoric plea this film makes to those suffering this perennial onslaught of regression. Riya's ultimate dream is to perform "in front of a live audience" because a dead audience is no fun anyway.
This is Shraddha Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor’s first movie together.
This is Arjun Kapoor’s second movie that is based on a novel, the first being ‘2 States’ by the same author, Chetan Bhagat.
Madhav Jha(Arjun Kapoor) from Simrao, Bihar, gets admission under the sports category at St Stephens, New Delhi. The college prefers those who are fluent in English. Madhav doesnât in on that account, however because heâs a A-league basketball player, he manages to get in. On campus he sees Riya Somani(Shraddha Kapoor), the stunning, affluent, Delhi girl who also likes basketball. The two of them strike up a friendship though they are from culturally different backgrounds. Both speak different languages but they decide to be friendsâactually Shraddha tells him she will be his half girlfriendâthat is dost se zyada, girlfriend se kum. Now it so happens that at home, Shraddha has a troubled life. Her parents are constantly fighting. She finds escape in music and dreams that one day she will perform live at a New York bar. Arjunâs mother, Rani Sahiba(Seema Biswas) runs several schools in Bihar. She is a dedicated worker and is sad that girls in the State cannot come to school because of lack of amenities like toilets. On campus Madhav and Riyaâs friendship becomes stronger. However Madhavâs friends tell him that he must put his friendship with Riya to test by getting intimate with her and seeing how she reacts. Madhav falls for this. One day when Riya is catching some rest in his hostel room, he tries to get close to her. She doesnât like that. She warns him saying that she is not looking for such intimacy in this relationship. Next, Riya starts avoiding Madhav. One day she calls him to India Gate, their favourite meeting place and tells him that she is flying to UK and is getting married. Madhav is heartbroken. After that he completes his studies and goes home to Simrao. However, he is continuously pining for Riya. A couple of years later he meets her at a hotel in Patna. She is now working for a toothpaste company. They meet and talk. He even takes her home to meet his mother. However, his mother is not happy with Riya. She doesnât approve of the fact that Riya has ended her marriage in just one and a half years. She doesnât want Madhav and Riya to get close. However Madhav is hopelessly in love with Riya and he tells his mother to be `kindâ to her. He also asks Riya to coach him in English because he needs to make a presentation to the Bill Gates Foundation for a grant. He feels they can help him get funds to make toilets in schools and more girls can then get education. Madhavâs speech is a hit and he manages to impress the Bill Gates foundation who then offer him an internship in New York. In the meanwhile, Riya has disappeared from his life without leaving a forwarding address because of what Madhavâs mother has said to her. In New York, Madhav stays with his school mate Shailesh(Vikrant Massey) and he goes ahead with his internship. However, his sole aim is to find Riya who is now singing at some bar in New York.
Spoiler alertâonly read if you have watched the film
Before leaving Bihar, Riya leaves a note behind for Madhav saying she is moving on because she has been diagnosed with blood cancer and she doesnât have too long to live. She pleads with him to forget her. But when he lands in New York, Madhav has a gut feeling that Riya will be performing at a bar in the Big Apple. So every evening he goes to different bars looking for Indian girls who are performing there. Somewhere deep within he has a fear that Riya may have succumbed to cancer. His friends try to hook him up with other girls but Madhav is hell bent on finding Riya. On Christmas Night he actually finds her singing at a bar and he proclaims his love for her. At this juncture, she tells him that she had lied about her illness because she wanted him to go far away from her. Post this, Madhav and Riya return to Simrao. They run a chain of schools here. Their daughter also goes to school here. And everyone including Madhavâs mother Rani is happy to have a complete family.
The assumption that many have read Chetan Bhagat’s 2014 novel of the same name should be a safe one because Bhagat’s fluff has its own following. But, Half Girlfriend is definitely not one of his best works. So, Mohit Suri (Aashiqui2, Ek Villain) gives us a celluloid outing that is thodafun and largely exasperating.