In complete tandem with each other, this marvellous duo is out to entertain you…
Indian cinema has definitely tapped into Pakistan’s best talent and Saba Qamar’s role in Hindi Medium is proof enough. Directed by Saket Chaudhry, known for his directorial debut Piyar Ke Side Effects, Saba and her co-star Irrfan Khan are a well-matched duo, performing together in perfect cadence – their chemistry as much-in-love married couple Raj and Meeta is felt through the celluloid and that is a lot of the job done.
Saba, besides being an accomplished television actress, is also a clever comedian – remember her in Hum Sab Umeed Say Hein – and her ability to mould herself into different people is well-known; in this case as young Delhi mom Meeta from Chandni Chowk who wants to move from her humble, desi life and join the ranks of the upscale, English speaking parents of suburban Delhi whose children go to the best English medium schools in town. She forces her self-made, cloth-shop owner husband Raj (Irrfan Khan) to make the move– he falls in with her plans since all he wants is to see is his girl happy.
The film laughs and cries at this typically South Asian obsession to join the ranks of the English-speaking so it wouldn’t be wrong to call it a social comedy. Meeta and Raj’s misadventures when they move to upmarket Vasant Vihar are funny, what with their swanky new set-up, wardrobe and behaviour. The digs at what it means to be socially acceptable in English-speaking Delhi are a bit exaggerated but always funny. The lengths that Raj and Meeta go to, to get admission in an elite school for little daughter Pia are entertaining, yet a tad bit familiar! Who hasn’t seen an eager desire to be up and coming in our part of the world! Tillotama Shome as the snooty coach for aspiring parents and kids and Amrita Singh as the principal of the rich Delhi school are good but quite stereotypical, no nuances here!
The film takes a twist to land the couple on the opposite spectrum – they decide to apply from the ‘poor quota’ after failing to make the cut as wannabe elite – and land up in a slum pretending to be financially down and out. Saba and Irrfan take to the roles of a mohallah couple with as much aplomb as their previous Vasant Vihar avatars. Deepak Dobriyal as Raj their slum neighbour and almost perfect friend adds to the misadventures and laughs.
What plays out eventually for the ambitious couple and their daughter is a left for you to agree or disagree with. The film’s theme definitely resonates with parents who go to many lengths to procure admission in a good school and is also a reminder of the differences between elitist and ordinary school systems that create disparity in South Asia – India and Pakistan both. However, despite this heavy thematic load, this film is a comedy, powered by the performances of the main duo – we love Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar together and the way they make us laugh despite any hiccups within the storyline and script.
See it to enjoy it! 8/10