Hindi Medium is 3 Idiots for parents and educators; it is a film about class-mass divide, the idiosyncrasies of the privileged; the pressure that parents put on children; and about how education has now become the biggest business – even among those who claim to be ‘prestigious’ and ‘public.’
Hindi Medium comes in the wake of two noteworthy news too: One locally, with Mohamed Alabbar, Dubai’s leading entrepreneur, pointing out that private education is over-priced; and two, from the south Indian state of Kerala – where a plus two student, who fought odds to secure high marks committed suicide after the media ‘broke’ stories of her underprivileged background. In her suicide note, the girl wrote: ‘My life is mine.’
Even when it presents disturbing realities, Hindi Medium’s charm is that it does not resort to melodrama. It doesn’t tease your sensibilities and it does not preach. Everything is under-toned – and what a welcome relief that makes when a filmmaker is brave enough not to resort to emotional manipulation of any sort.
While some plot-points of the film might not pass the ‘believability’ test, what matters is the message, the sub-texts, the overall take-away that the film delivers. By panning the camera through the lives of Raj (Irrfan Khan) and Meeta (Saba Qamar), and their pursuit to secure a school admission for their daughter Pia, the film plucks at several hot buttons.
Raj is goofy, straight-talking, happy and unpretentious – the kind you will find at north Indian restaurants on a Thursday evening in Bur Dubai. He has no airs about him and has made his riches through hard work. Meeta is ambitious, the wannabe – who is not reduced to the usual ‘high society’ stereotype.
When their pursuit prompts them to take up residence in a slum, life gives them a few lessons – especially through Shyamprakash (Deepak Dobriyal – what a wonderful, versatile actor this man is!) and his family.
The film might gloss a few yards over the life of the underprivileged but there is no denying the take-away – for Raj, as for you. Here perhaps, for the first time, you will see the protagonist’s triumph – of honesty and integrity – not being met with claps by those in the film; the claps will come from your mind.
To see why Irrfan Khan chose this movie, watch him become Raj with absolute ease, throwing at you pure theatre moments, and fantastic humour. Saba Qamar is a delight to watch; she takes on the rather demanding role and gives it the right respect and gravitas. With Deepak too on the frame, the film takes a life unique to its own.
Hindi Medium is a must-watch for educators, parents and students; it tosses many questions but more importantly, it tells you that for most vexing problems, the solutions don’t lie elsewhere; they are within you. Take a bow, director Saket Chaudhary!
CAST: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Deepak Dobriyal
DIRECTION: Saket Chaudhary
DURATION: 2 hours 12 minutes
India Pages Rating:★★★★