Hindi Medium

Hindi Medium’ is a comedy-satire on the education system starring Irrfan Khan, Pakistani actress Saba Qamar, child artiste Dishita Sehgal, Deepak Dobriyal, Amrita Singh and Sanjay Suri with a cameo by Neha Dhupia. The movie has been directed by Saket Chowdhary of ‘Pyaar Ke Side Effects’ and ‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’ fame.

The film opens in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area where Raj Batra (Irrfan), a boutique owner is an extremely loving husband to his wife Mita (Saba), whom he lovingly calls Mithu. Trouble begins when Mita is persistent to get their daughter Pia (Dishita) in a top English medium school, as in her words, ‘English is not just a language but a class’. After facing rejection in most schools, the couple get ‘counselling sessions’ to crack the parents’ interview, switch to designer wear and even shift to a posh locality in South Delhi. The ever-obliging husband Raj gives in to his wife’s desire and she even convinces him to call her ‘Honey’ instead of Mithu. However, despite all the efforts, they fail to secure Pia’s admission at a good English medium school, even as they are snubbed by their fellow ‘high-society’ residents who do not allow their kids to mingle with Pia because she speaks in Hindi. When a school staff suggests them to apply through ‘gareeb’ quota, Raj and Mita fake their poverty and shift to a slum area and apply for Pia’s admission under the EWS (economically weaker section) quota. Here they come across a friendly and helpful neighbour Shyamprakash (Deepak Dobriyal) who has also applied for his son’s admission under the ‘gareeb’ quota in the same school as Pia’s.

Mita is concerned that Pia may feel left out if she isn’t able to speak good English and achieve something in life. She fears her daughter might take to drugs. So, does Pia get admission at a good English medium school. Do Raj and Mita reveal their true financial status? The answers unfold further in the movie.

‘Hindi Medium’ is a light-hearted entertainer which at the same time, brilliantly gives out a strong message that speaking English should not be a yardstick to judge people. It decries the obsession of people to get their children educated in English. It seeks to explain how education, which is about gaining knowledge, information and enlightenment, has become a tool of creating class division based on medium of instruction. It also shows how the ‘temples of education’ have turned into business enterprises.

Although the movie deals with a serious message, never at any point does it seem boring or preachy as the hard-hitting messages are cleverly laced with humour and witty and punchy one-liners. The dialogues are effective and strewn with sarcasm and the screenplay is taut with a proper combination of light-hearted, serious and awkward moments. Audience, especially young parents who go through the admission process of their kids, will find the movie very relatable.       

While the first part of the movie moves at a great and effective pace, the latter part takes a slight dip in its momentum, but still manages to keep the audience engrossed. There are also a few scenes which lack impact, especially the school children’s song and dance sequences. The portrayal of public schools also could have been better, but these are minor, negligible flaws.

A huge plus point of the movie is its casting and the lead actors play a major part in making the film enjoyable. Irrfan Khan is such an actor that he turns himself into any king of character that he is given to play. His straight-faced humour and histrionics are brilliant, and his comic timing is outstanding. Deepik Dobriyal is known for his comedy and he is charming in his role and performance. Pakistani actress Saba Qamar makes a great debut in Bollywood and provides able support and matches the performance of her brilliant co-star Irrfan.

Child actor Dishita Sehgal is good in her act while other supporting cast, Amrita Singh as principal of a school, Tillotama Shome as education consultant, Sanjay Suri and Neha Dhupia as the residents of the posh society, and all other supporting characters have played their part well.

Overall, ‘Hindi Medium’ is entertaining while it is serious and makes one laugh and become emotional at the same time. The movie definitely makes for a great experience and may be make English-obsessed people not to demean Hindi or any other vernacular language.