Mita and Raj Batra are a well-off couple, who are deeply in love with each other. They reside in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk. Raj owns a shop where he sells first copies of designer lehengas and Mita is a homemaker. However, trouble begins in their paradise when they try to admit their daughter Piya into an English Medium school. They leave their ancestral home and move to a posh South Delhi location in an attempt to improve their status, so that they can fit in a society, where in Mita’s words, English is not just a language but also class, which only a good school can provide.
The couple tries hard to fit in the ‘high-class’ society including switching to designer clothes and a dominating Mita even forces her husband to address her as honey, instead of Mitthu, which he used to call her. She wins every argument with her husband just by asking him English spellings of every English word he utters and making him feel inferior.
However, they are not greeted warmly by the residents of that housing society, where the ladies divide themselves into kitty groups based on their children’s school and refuse to let their kids play with Piya as she speaks in Hindi.
Frustrated with several failed attempts at getting their daughter admitted into an English medium school, Raj and Mita move to a slum in Bharat Nagar and submit a form for their daughter Piya in the best school of the city under the BPL quota. There they meet a couple Shyam Prakash and his wife who not only help them with whatever they can but also risk their life for Piya’s admission, while they are also trying to admit their son in the same school. Mita’s only concern is that if her daughter fails to achieve something in life, she will get depressed and start consuming drugs. Will Piya get a chance in an English medium school? What happens to the family?
Hindi Medium is an enjoyable and realistic tale which lands a tight slap on the face of a society which considers English as a parameter for judging people, where people are not taken seriously if they don’t speak English well and they are made to feel inferior. The film is a wakeup call for a society where if you are not well versed in English, you will be mocked, laughed at. A very well-written script!
Zeenat Lakhani scores in delivering this serious message in the garb of humour and comedy. While, the film is thoroughly enjoyable, it is tailor made for the Indian society and shows how parents struggle to get their kids admitted to reputed schools, how they suffer from a constant fear of failure, from a fear of not fitting in the ‘class’ and how education has shockingly become a booming business in the country. The film warns us that outer polish is not enough; get your values right first.
The dialogues are hilarious and keep you entertained throughout. The plot gets a bit predictable towards the end and the film glorifies government schools, which are looked down upon in our society. The script in some aspects bears resemblance to Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy’s Bengali film Ramdhanu but those who have watched both, will surely know that the similarities are not major.
Irrfan Khan and Deepak Dobriyal compete with each other in terms of performance. Irrfan never fails to impress and his comic timing deserves mention. Pakistani actress Saba Qamar is impressive as a dominating wife and a mother who is desperate to ensure good (read English) education for her daughter so that she does not lag behind in the rat race. Amrita Singh plays a strict but corrupt headmistress and she does it with such finesse that I seriously cannot imagine anybody else in that role.
This is a film with which every Indian student and parent will be able to relate. Kudos to the makers for highlighting the way education is being turned into a business (which only the rich can afford) in our country. At the same time, it points out the plight of government schools where the major concern is not just lack of infrastructure and facilities but also the lack of students. I go with four stars for this one! A 9/10 from me!