Friday, March 23, 2018

Review: HICHKI

The Only Hitch, It's Been Done To Death.

2 stars

Mini Review:

Take all the underdog students and hero teacher films and
add a dose of Right To Education and a give the teacher
Tourettes so we also learn to empathise with differently-
abled people. The film checks all the boxes of stereotypes
and yet only a couple of scenes manage to touch you. It’s
neither Dangerous Minds, nor is it To Sir With Love. Rani
Mukherji needed a stronger, smarter script.

Main Review:

Rani Mukherji plays Naina Mathur, a highly qualified teacher
with just one ‘problem’. She suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome
which means she is unable to control the hiccup-like sounds
that become worse when she is nervous. She gets a job to
teach the kids who have been given admission to a fancy
school simply because the school cannot deny admissions to
kids because of their poor background under the new Right To
Education. So far so good.

We see how Naina suffered ridicule at school and was inspired
by a wonderful teacher - a sequence very well and rather
empathetically shot. We see how her dad (Sachin Pilgaonkar)
does not understand his daughter and wants to send her to a
special school, but her mother (Supriya Pilgaonkar) wants Naina
to lead a normal life. Naina has not forgiven her dad for leaving
them. So far, so good.  

Then begins the descent into stereotype. The Principal
(Shivkumar Subramaniam) is good, but the Science teacher
(Neeraj Kabi) is bad. The kids from grade 9A are all privileged
and scholarly but some are rotten. The kids that Rani Mukherji
has to teach are in 9F: ‘Failures’, ‘Not fit to study in this school’,
‘poor’, from the wrong side of the tracks. The kids themselves are
so stereotypical you begin to gag on your popcorn: One raps, one
is a math whiz but gambles on the street, another brings okra to
cut so she can cook for the family (you begin to wonder if there’s
no other vegetable poor folks eat), there’s a lad who works in the
bicycle shop and he’s mad at the whole world, another works in a
car chop shop who is best friends with the boy who is mad at the
world. Then there’s a couple of girls who are very bright. Another
belongs to a Muslim community and her father has great dreams
for her. Yes, there’s also romance in the form of the lad who’s
mad the world likes a girl who is a prefect and from the fancy ‘9A’
hence perfect. By the time you groan you watch kids play pranks
on the new teacher by sawing off the legs off her chair, explode
stuff in a bin, you know science stuff…

The teacher sticks on and teaches them math and science and
chemistry (no, don’t ask why no other teacher in school is
assigned to that class!) and makes it all fun and games and sticks
up for the naughty students (winning them over stereotype box
checked!). The Science Teacher Mr Wadia (Neeraj Kabi) hates
these kids, and no one tells you why. He’s just nasty. So we see
Naina’s encounters with this bad teacher and hear platitudes like:
There are no good and bad students, only good and bad teachers.
You know there will be a faceoff between the privileged students
and the underdog students. Thankfully there is no math/science
olympiad but a final exam. Asif Basra gets to play the school peon,
Shyamlal, who you know will turn out to be a turncoat. You are
beyond groaning at this point. Could it get any more pathetic?

It’s been shot well, and Rani’s angry helpless breakdown at school
will bring tears to your eyes, but everything else is so sloppily
written, you know how it is going to end. Yes, Sachin the dad
comes around, the badly behaved kids call her their Pole Star,
guiding light, the bad teacher realises his prejudices and all’s
well you think, but no! The filmmakers have watched Vinod
Khanna’s film Imtihan (1974) and want to give the same iconic
tears and joy farewell to Naina Mathur as well… Rani Mukherji
is a good actor, and to see her in this stereotypical high school
film is a pity. This film is nice, but fails to touch your heart.

(this review appears on

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