Hindi Medium movie review: Watch it for the glorious Irrfan Khan

Hindi Medium movie review: Irrfan Khan delivers a fine performance in this film which puts the difference between Bharat and India in sharp focus. Pakistani actor Saba Qamar gets some moments too.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | Published:May 19, 2017 12:35 pm
hindi medium movie review, hindi medium, hindi medium review, irrfan khan, saba qamar, hindi medium image Hindi Medium movie review: Irrfan Khan delivers a well-judged performance. Watch out for the scene where he is catching his favourite soap on telly.

Hindi Medium movie cast: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Deepak Dobriyal, Swati Das, Tillotama Shome, Amrita Singh
Hindi Medium movie director: Saket Chaudhary
Hindi Medium movie rating: 2 stars

In the India-Bharat that we live in, and especially in New Delhi aka Nai Dilli, there are many games people play when trying to assess your worth, but whichever way you slice or dice it, much of it comes down to that biggest social signifier: English or Ingliss?

What is your snob-o-meter? You may be chauffeur-driven in a fancy BMW, flash your Chanel bag, sport a pair of the latest Versace shades, and so on, but if you can’t speak the Queen’s language as she is spoke, there go your chances to be invited to the really swish parties in town. And for your offspring to crack the most difficult exam ever: to get into the best private schools, where English is both the medium, and the message.

Hindi Medium comes at an apt time, and shines a light on the near-insurmountable barrier that language, the knowing of one, the not knowing of another, can be. As we see Chandni Chowk merchant Raj Batra and his wife Mita struggle to get their daughter into the best schools, where the parents have to pass the entrance to the nursery test first before anything else, we see the horror stories we read and see playing out in front of us.

Raj (Irrfan Khan) is a self-made man, and quite happy where he is. Mita (Saba Qamar), whom he calls Mithu, is the one who wants social mobility for her daughter. So they move from the crowded galis of the old city to a swanky home in South Delhi, but that journey is not enough. The proximity to the fancy school may have been addressed, but the not-knowing-angrezi puts them on another planet.

Also read Irrfan Khan can do anything: From AIB meme video to Litbit video, here are Hindi Medium actor’s hilarious efforts

The film opens well, and both Irrfan and Pakistani actress Saba, make you feel the anxiety and the anguish of parents in search of that very elusive holy grail: an English-medium school that will take their children to the pinnacle of success.

hindi medium movie review, hindi medium review, hindi medium, hindi medium movie, Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, hindi medium images Hindi Medium movie review: A still from Saba Qamar, Irrfan Khan-starrer film.

But it dips, and becomes much less sure-footed when the family is forced to don the ‘gareebi’ garb ( to get access to the seats that private schools have to keep aside for the EWS, economically weaker section). This well-off family’s interactions with those who live in the slummy parts of the Capital, over–run by rats and stinky toilets and sarkaari schools are an uneasy, forced act: while mining sympathy, some situations turn insensitive and unconvincing.

It is tricky territory, this looking at `ameeri’ and `gareebi’, English-speaking snobs and Hindi medium worker drones, the haves and have-nots, and the film becomes shaky and laboured in these portions. Both the snobby how-to-get-into-nursery-schools coach (Tillotama Shome), who is busy making money off desperate parents, as well as the dodgy principal (Amrita Singh) of a school that lets ‘these poor children’ in are more caricature than real. Which is a pity, because with some depth, these characters could have lent the film much-needed nuance: Singh, who can be altogether wonderful, comes off confused and under-utilised.

And that’s really the nub of the problem here. The flat writing which doesn’t quite know whose side to take — show up the parents desperate for English-medium schooling, or point fingers at those who are inept gatekeepers of these bastions, or both, by sentimentalizing those who live below the poverty line as `good’ and `noble’ — turns this film much less than it could have been. The characters, including the one played by the very talented Deepak Dobriyal, become stock. And the climax, consisting of a sanctimonious speech, lets the film down.

hindi medium movie review, hindi medium review, hindi medium, hindi medium movie, Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, hindi medium images, Deepak Dobriyal Hindi Medium movie review: Deepak Dobriyal and Irrfan Khan in a film’s still.

Saba Qamar’s hyper mom who is happy to be a ‘chalta-phirta’ brand factory in order to get her well-shod foot in the door, gets some moments, but is made to repeat a few lines over and over again, and gets tiresome.

As usual, it’s the marvelous Irrfan who keeps us watching. His is a fine, well-judged performance, which rises above the lines. At one point, we see him cracking up while watching his favourite florid TV serial: in that moment, ‘Hindi Medium’ is glorious, because the actor catches what he’s meant to do, meant to be, gloriously.

What happened to that tone in the rest of the film?

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  1. B
    BISWAJIT TRIPATHY
    May 24, 2017 at 8:48 pm
    This isn't really a movie. This is an experience to be shared, a story to be shared with future generations. Irrfan at his best ever. Deepak Dobriyal has done a wonderful job too.
    Reply
    1. M
      M.G. AnnAd
      May 24, 2017 at 3:33 pm
      All please ignore the reviews given here. Just go and watch this movie with your family. You will love the drama and humor. I would love to watch it again, hilarious :) Fantastic acting by Irfan and leading lady, great support by Deepak D and the lady acting as his wife. Stellar performances by Amrita Singh and the councellor. Loved the movie, just go and watch it, you will not regret it. Yesterday, the theater was full, all tickets sold out. This will be a lambe race ka ghoda, will do great in the BO.
      Reply
      1. S
        Surjeet
        May 24, 2017 at 11:59 am
        Shubhra Gupta is part right but out of sync with the audience who have rated the film highly (e.g., on Bookmyshow). My own take on the film is not different from Shubhra's but I would definitely rate it at 3.5 or more. About Irfan: I think, he is overrated. There were few scenes in the movie where he could not be seen as Irfan but a chandnichowk businessman. In my view, the best thing about the movie is Deepak Dobriyal.
        Reply
        1. R
          RD Plast
          May 22, 2017 at 3:33 pm
          Hindi Medium is a good movie, initiated to change mindset that only top private school can give a better education rather than a government one. I like the steps a person took to send thier child to a government school so that the condition of govt. school will change and a poor parent can also provide a good education to their child. I enjo a couple of long hour movie by swive my TV Wall Mount which gives a painless TV watching pleasere (www.rdplast )
          Reply
          1. M
            Mansoor
            May 22, 2017 at 12:35 am
            What a pathetic review And what a wonderful movie.. was moved by the accident scene... heart touching scenes and dialogues and actors.. I rock Deepak dobriyal and irrfan
            Reply
            1. T
              Tanuja Krishna Dubey
              May 21, 2017 at 10:40 pm
              Pathetic review.....doesn't do justice to the film AT ALL !! The critic is far far removed from the reality of the subject & how well the subject has been depicted & addressed. It's a shame to give just 2 stars to a brilliant movie.
              Reply
              1. M
                Mili
                May 20, 2017 at 9:33 pm
                I read her reviews and hindustan times as it saved me from watching garbage blockbluster movies, so good Shubra
                Reply
                1. H
                  Humayun
                  May 20, 2017 at 7:12 pm
                  Looks like Indian Express is moved by Hindi Medium as they are blocking some Engligh words. So I will write in Hindi. Kuch logo ko har jagah karne ki aadat hoti hai....aur ye alochak unme se ek hai!
                  Reply
                  1. H
                    Humayun
                    May 20, 2017 at 7:09 pm
                    Some people have this habit of ting! ting everywhere! This critic is one of those people.
                    Reply
                    1. V
                      Virendra
                      May 20, 2017 at 3:53 pm
                      Badiya movie hai. Yeh indian express ki reviewer meri tatii kha le.
                      Reply
                      1. D
                        dipu
                        May 21, 2017 at 2:20 am
                        Acha bolo
                        Reply
                      2. R
                        richa
                        May 20, 2017 at 12:47 pm
                        one thing you missed out here is A secondary issue to this film on primary education is that it is very obviously similar to the Bengali film, Ramdhanu. It reminds us that be it English or Hindi, the children, and later, the adults of India wouldn’t waste a minute before plagiarizing. However, nitpicking aside, Hindi Medium is an average Hindi film with all the cr comedy and populist choices you can imagine, but it has it’s ‘Dil’ in the right place. the review was on www.wittyghost : www.wittyghost /2017/05/hindi-medium/
                        Reply
                        1. W
                          Weekly vomiting lady
                          May 20, 2017 at 8:07 am
                          There it is. The lady has vomited again.What a horrendous review. Gobbar Gupta I think you do your two-bath room once a week in this portal.
                          Reply
                          1. Z
                            zfilming
                            May 20, 2017 at 1:17 am
                            Watch Hindi medium 2017 : zfilming /movies/hindi-medium-2017-watch-download-full-hindi-movie/
                            Reply
                            1. C
                              Chandu
                              May 19, 2017 at 7:56 pm
                              Irrfan Khan sir might try and make a film about coaching classes for J E E and N E E T. Sometimes a candidate who never attends any coaching cl comes out highly successful in the examinations and the coaching classes start paying the candidate for adverti ts. The candidate earns so much that there is no necessity for further studies. Sometimes candidates are hired to write the examinations.
                              Reply
                              1. R
                                Rajat
                                May 20, 2017 at 2:46 am
                                kuchh bhi!!
                                Reply
                              2. D
                                Digant Shah
                                May 19, 2017 at 7:41 pm
                                What's wrong with this critic Shubhra Gupta. I haven't seen her going more than 2.5 stars for even block buster movies. Hope she knows she has to rate movies out of 5 stars, and not 3. z....
                                Reply
                                1. B
                                  Bhrigu
                                  May 20, 2017 at 8:00 am
                                  She gave Sultan a 3. She is clearly biased and probably gets paid for favorable reviews.
                                  Reply
                                2. S
                                  Sonali
                                  May 19, 2017 at 5:13 pm
                                  You suck as a critic. Get an eye before you review bad. You are one of a negative women.
                                  Reply
                                  1. D
                                    Digant Shah
                                    May 19, 2017 at 7:43 pm
                                    Very very true. I stopped following her reviews.
                                    Reply
                                  2. R
                                    Rahul Kumar
                                    May 19, 2017 at 5:06 pm
                                    Going against the grain here a little. This doesn't seem to be a Shubhra Gupta fan club. I find her reviews very apt and saves me a lot of money, torture, and heartache watching duds and shockers. I go for only content and abhor the gloss, ma ,etc meaningless stuff of hindi films. So well done Shubhra keep it up.
                                    Reply
                                    1. I
                                      India is great
                                      May 19, 2017 at 3:08 pm
                                      As usual, I boycott movies with actors.
                                      Reply
                                      1. I
                                        India is great
                                        May 19, 2017 at 3:09 pm
                                        actors
                                        Reply
                                        1. I
                                          India is great
                                          May 19, 2017 at 3:09 pm
                                          stan actors
                                      2. A
                                        Akash Barot
                                        May 19, 2017 at 10:33 am
                                        Whats wrong with Shubhra, Indian Express its high time to change your movie reviewer, Shubhra is not liking any bollywood film, check all past reviews, and you'll know whats wrong.....
                                        Reply
                                        1. D
                                          Digant Shah
                                          May 19, 2017 at 7:44 pm
                                          So True. I stopped following her.
                                          Reply
                                        2. C
                                          Chanakya
                                          May 18, 2017 at 7:11 pm
                                          What happened????? Where is Raj Thackrey now? Where is Shiv Sena? Where is Bollywood Filmmakers ociation ? I remember well that stani actors were not supposed to work in Indian films ?? Then why is Saba Qamar in this film ??????
                                          Reply
                                          1. R
                                            Rohit
                                            May 18, 2017 at 4:15 pm
                                            I used to read Shubra's review before watching any movies but since last 1 year, something heavily got wrong ! Every review and rating is fal apart. Earlier 8/10 reviews were right but nowadays hardly 2-3/10. Seems like taking personal revenge from movies. I don't know what IE is looking for !
                                            Reply
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