Movie: Hindi Medium
Director: Saket Chaudhury
Cast: Saba Qamar, Irrfan Khan, Amrita Singh, and Deepak Dobriyal
Music: Sachin Jigar
Can a high-quality education turn a student into a good person?
How much is a school responsible for the progress of a child?
And when it comes a child’s schooling, how important is a parent? And does their influence differ depending on their income or their child’s gender?
In an unmistakable triumph for Indian cinema, director Saket Chaudhury brilliantly explores the issues and choices that Indian parents face while wanting to give their kids the best education.
Before we get to the film… a little bit of background about India.
Here’s what the world’s often heard about India, of late:
That it is a growing economy, ably living up to the hype of being dubbed one of Asia’s tiger economies. True!
That India is a land of spirituality where the many colours of secularism, culture and traditional festivities find existence amongst an template of rising urbanism. That’s also true.
But here’s what movies or headlines often avoid.
That a murky side of India also exists … in an intellectual divide… in addition to an economic one between the affluent classes and the struggling ones.
And this issue is treated with absolute candidness and efficacy in the latest Irrfan Khan-starrer, which takes a direct dig at the outlandish levels that parents go to so their kids can receive an education in private schools.
Self-employed clothing merchant Raj Batra thrives in the capital Delhi and has a simple, uncomplicated approach to life: eat well, laugh more, complain less, and be ever grateful to your roots, for that’s where you rose from. But his life’s not always that easy, thanks to a wife mired with the big city complexities and insecurities that confront many Indian parents.
This is not a couple who are bothered by the lack of clean food or air. Their issues tend to lean toward having ample financial security, possessing the right address, air conditioner and luxury wagon, and, above all, lavishing their only daughter with the best education.
As Raj’s (Irrfan Khan) wife, Meeta, Pakistani actress Saba Qamar displays believable nervous energy in her attainment of ticking the right boxes that a rich, successful couple must have in order to stand out from the rest.
Getting into the right school, however, is not easy. What might seem a normal practice – pay the fat school fee and get your child admitted in an affluent private school – is not.
There’s competition (as shown by Deepak Dobriyal, a poor father who’ll go to all lengths to secure a seat for his kid);
There’s a need to pass an endless number of entrance examinations;
And, in this case, there’s a nosy school principal, played with maturity by Bollywood veteran Amrita Singh.
Hindi Medium wins by showing audiences the trials and tribulations of India’s parents, as well as highlighting some truths about India’s contemporary private education schooling system.
With wry wit and realistic humour, Hindi Medium explores a multitude of concepts, including money versus effective teaching, and hype versus reality.
And the film will make you chuckle and shed a tear in its re-examination of the realities that surround many parents who often lose sight that money can’t buy real nurturing.
Give this film a watch. Or maybe, even two.
Rating: (one to five whistles, five being the best): 4 Whistles
Contributor Dev Tyagi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead-In Image Courtesy of Maddock Films
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