Rani Mukerji is back on the silver screen after a long gap of 4 years. With Hichki, we get to see the dynamic actor once again and she does not disappoint. The same can’t be said for the film though. What starts as a tale of a woman trying to make the society understand about her condition soon turns into a teacher-student drama and in Hindi cinema, we’ve had many of those.
Hichki is a predictable film and it unfolds in a fashion that does not keep you on the edge of your seat but honestly, much like Hindi cinema’s other genres, this too has a formula.
1. The saviour teacher
If it’s a film on a student-teacher relationship, the teacher begins his hero’s journey right from the word go. They are the ones who have to save the day and help the students reach their full potential by the end of the story. They are not presented as wholesome characters but in fact are the do-gooders who are constantly keeping a check on the students’ actions. Kabir Khan’s backstory in Chak De! India is used as a tool to show his motivation but his actions, while he’s coaching, are very focused. His goal is clear and the audience knows that he will be the one who will save them all.
2. The unconventional teaching methods
If movies showed how we actually learnt in school, no one would sit through them for three hours. So films adopt the out-of-the-box teaching methods. These look novel, make learning look like fun and usually get wonderful results but all in a fictional world of course. All through school, we wished for teachers who would throw the textbook out of the window and take us on an excursion but watching it on film makes us believe that had we been lucky enough to study from a teacher like this, education would have meant so much more. Ram Shankar’s day out with his students in Taare Zameen Par gave him a glimpse of Ishaan’s potential and his sessions with the boy focused on the same principal. Even in Hichki, Rani Mukerji’s Naina tries to find novel ways to teach her students.
3. Breaking the barrier with the students
Having pre-conceived notions about the educator gives the other characters and the audience a chance to fully explore the educator’s character. The students initially oppose the teaching method, even resent the teacher but a pivotal point in the film is necessary to turn them into a team. In Black, this moment comes quite early in the film to establish the connection between Michelle and Debraj. This pivotal moment appears in Hichki as well and is a necessity for all student-teacher films.
4. The meek villains
Here, one can’t blame the makers. The setting of the school or an educational institution does not call for evil villains unless it’s Hogwarts and so what we’re left with are comparatively milder negative characters who do not really pose a threat to the students or their life. Hichki underutilises a fine actor like Neeraj Kabi and the sole reason for this is that his character isn’t given much to chew on.
5. The predictable win
Be it Amitabh Bachchan’s Debaraj in Black or Aamir Khan’s Ram Shankar in Taare Zameen Par, their stories are narrated in a way that we know that the triumph is certain. We hardly ever see our heroes get the short end of the stick but in case they are playing a teacher, we know how it’s going to turn out. Same is true for sports dramas as well. The suspense doesn’t really hold us but how it’s executed definitely holds our attention.