Hindi Medium is an important film. I must admit that the trailer did give me the feeling that it was along the lines of Aakaasamanta but when I watched the film, I realized that they were only superficial similarities. These are two different films at their cores and both just as sweet and touching and memorable. A month after the film’s release, makers of the 2014 Bengali hit Ramdhanu went to court accusing Hindi Medium of blatant plagiarism of their original content. Regardless of the source of the original content, the film is out there, now even on Amazon PrimeVideo, for you to watch. Should you watch it, then? Read on.
Set in Delhi, Hindi Medium has Irrfan and Saba Qamar (fun fact: she’s Pakistani. I didn’t know this until I read up the film’s Wiki page. We aren’t so different, after all) playing Raj Batra and Meeta Batra, with their child Pia Batra – an affluent family of a barely-educated businessman father, a not-so-badly educated, ambitious mother and a kid who doesn’t speak much, living in Chandni Chowk neighborhood of Delhi where Raj’s business is based out of. Wanting to get their daughter admitted to the best school in the city (country?), the couple is ready to go through anything and everything – be it moving from Chandi Chowk to the upscale Vasant Vihar, trying to “fit in” in the city’s “elite” circles, hosting parties only to make themselves and others believe they are no less socially acceptable, signing up with a “consultant” (played by the charming Tilotama Shome) for these posh schools, taking courses themselves, and even moving to the slums of Delhi pretending to be poor – all in the hope of getting an admission at least in the RTE quota in the best school in the city.
The film is important because it lays bare our obsession with “English” and goes on to show how education is not limited by the medium of instruction, or even which school you study in. Without making solid and serious comments, the film also shows how education sector has become more of a business in India – one of the more profitable ones at that. And not to mention how political it is. In the end, the film also makes a statement on the importance of proper functioning of Government schools.
The first half unfolds at a leisure pace. The second is more gripping. Performances are on point. Irrfan is exceptional. Saba Qamar is a pleasant surprise. I would love to see her in many Indian movies. Deepak Dobriyal is a fine, fine artist and Hindi Medium gives him ample scope to shine. Together with the subtle yet effective Swathi Das, he creates an image of innocence, vulnerability and selflessness only a poor man is capable of. Amrita Singh as the school principal doesn’t get much to do. Ditto for the kid who plays the daughter. Lakshman Utekar’s camera captures Delhi in all its abundance and the lack of it, the slums and star bunglows with unflinching ruthlessness.
So the question is, will Hindi Medium become bigger the itself eventually? Can it become a 3 Idiots? It remains to be seen.
I’m going with 3.5 out of 5!
PS: All the images are YouTube screenshots from the film’s official trailer.