We live in times when a lot of people look down upon people who speak in a local language or their mother tongue. Speaking in English and speaking it well is the new ‘cool’. I have had friends in college who tried to hide the fact that they have studied in Hindi medium schools as they thought that would make them look uncool or put them at the risk of being humiliated. ‘Hindi Medium’ (2017) explored the obsession of parents of getting their children in reputed schools where the medium of instruction is English. The film, directed by Saket Chaudhary, did not boast of the biggest names in the business and seemed like an offbeat film but went on to become one of the most profitable films of the year based on its merit. ‘Angrezi Medium’, the second film in the franchise, is based on a similar subject. This time, though, it is Homi Adajania, and not Saket Chaudhary who directed the original, who is calling the shots.
Champak (Irrfan) became a widower early in life and thus, raised his daughter Tarika (Radhika Madan) as a single parent. Since childhood, Tarika has been fascinated by the idea of going abroad. She feels she will never be able to achieve anything significant in life while living in Udaipur. Tarika had always been a below average student but her dream of going abroad drives her towards studying hard and achieving a good percentile which, in turn, makes her the recipient of a scholarship to go to the UK and study there. A turn of events leads to Tarika losing out on her scholarship, the blame of which she squarely puts on her father. Champak pledges that, no matter what, he will do everything in his capacity to ensure that Tarika goes to London to study.
With sequels and franchise films being made in aplenty, there are times when you do not see any connection between two films which belong to the same franchise. That, thankfully, is not the case with ‘Angrezi Medium’. The film resonates with the same idea which ‘Hindi Medium’ dabbled in – taking pride in the country one belongs to, its language, culture and everything it represents. Also, humour is used as a plot device in both the film. While in ‘Hindi Medium’, it was used very effectively, here it works in parts.
The idea which a team of four writers – Bhavesh Mandalia, Vinay Chhawall, Gaurav Shukla and Sara Bodinar – have developed together holds a lot of promise. The film is the same vein as ‘Hindi Medium’ and looks at a similar issue in a different milieu and under different circumstances. The scenes which involve interactions between Champak and Tarika and Champak and Gopi are very memorable. The humour, as stated earlier, works in parts and there are times it comes across as too over-the-top for a film of this nature. For instance, the humour in the courtroom scene and in the airport where Champak and Gopi face harassment from the officials as a result of miscommunication, largely falls flat. The relationship between Champak and Tarika has been explored very sensitivity and has several moments of genuine warmth. The first half has several moments, including the events which lead to Tarika losing her scholarship, which arise as a result of smart writing. It is the second half wherein lies most of the film’s problems. A lot of plot points seem to have been incorporated for effect and fail to serve the larger purpose of the story. The culmination is fairly satisfactory but could have been executed much better.
Irrfan delivers yet another splendid performance in his first big-screen outing since ‘Karwaan’ (2018). He gets the body language, accent and other cultural nuances just right and puts across a performance which is natural to the core. Radhika Madan looks adorable and yet again, shows the kind of spunk and confidence which was evident right from the time she made her acting debut with a popular TV show. Deepak Dobriyal gets sufficient screen space and brings down the house with his antics as Gopi. Kareena Kapoor Khan looks ravishingly beautiful and performs very well within the scope she gets. Like Kareena, Dimple Kapadia gets a brief role but leaves an impact. Pankaj Tripathi’s cameo is nice, though the actor’s performance comes across as a little laboured. Tillotama Shome is wonderful in a cameo appearance, so is Zakir Hussain.
‘Angrezi Medium’ does not turn out to be as memorable as ‘Hindi Medium’ but is a film that is consistently engaging, despite several moments of implausibility, and manages to deliver an important message quite effectively.