Alphabet Soup for the Soul
: Mita and Raj Batra, an affluent couple from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, are grappling with getting their daughter admission into an English medium school. But there is one big problem. Their zubaan is Hindi, and the elitist snobs won’t let the Hindi speaking hoi-polloi fit in.
: At the core, the film deals with a very relevant subject of how language divides our society. Howangrezi-speaking people in India are touted to be ‘premium class,’ while the Hindi-waale¸ however illustrious or wealthy, are low-brow, or plain uncool. Hindi Medium shines in two areas that most of our films often fall short of. As far as the story goes – good writing, and as far as comedy goes – great timing.
Raj (Irrfan) has a flourishing clothes store in Chandni Chowk, where he sells ‘original copies’ of acclaimed designers, while his wife Mithu (Saba) -- her name classily upgrades to Honey -- is struggling to angrezify their lifestyle so that their daughter Pia (Dishita Sehgal) gets enrolled in a high-flying English medium school. They do everything they can -- move out of their ancestral home into a plush neighbourhood, abandon their desi swag for designer wear and switch from bhangra to angrezi beats. Alas, it doesn’t cut it. Plan B. Apply in the gareeb quota, move into a poor settlement with rags and rodents, and take gareebi ki training. Here, the couple meets Shyam Prakash (Deepak Dobriyal), who ironically, teaches them a few lessons – none that need language to comprehend.
Chaudhary gets the grammar of the subject right, and spells out the emotions fluently. The dialogues (Amitosh Nagpal) are perfectly pitched and interestingly, the humour rests on the hinge, never distracting from the centrepiece. Of course, Irrfan nails it with a class act, playing a man torn between his simple, unpretentious upbringing and his new wannabe avatar. Saba, as the OTT, dominating wife is sheer delight onscreen. Dobriyal is superb and in some scenes, he leaves you teary-eyed. The second half gets over-dramatic and the plot seems quite convenient, taking ample liberties. The last chapter (climax) is stretched and predictable, but in the end, it drives home the point, exposing the inadequacies and loopholes in our education system.
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