Sometimes, when you go to catch a film, it is best to leave your expectations at home. Often, all the high expectations get you, after those two hours, is a disappointment. That was somewhat my feeling after watching Homi Adajania's Angrezi Medium, a sequel to Saket Chaudhary's Hindi Medium. Perhaps, the first film set the bar so high that it is almost impossible to go past it.
No doubt it was a treat to watch Irrfan on the big screen after almost two years, and he made his screen time count. Unfortunately, a contrived storyline and screenplay make the film a laboured watch.
Watch the trailer of "Angrezi Medium" here
Agreed that when you are trying to make a film for too long and it keeps falling through the cracks, it is too much to handle. But it seems, in case of Angrezi Medium, Adajania got carried away when the film finally started shaping up.
Angrezi Medium looked so promising from its trailer — a sweet and simple story of father-daughter bonding, their relationship, conflicts and emotional journey. But the movie turned out to be a hotchpotch of convoluted subplots, characters screaming for attention, and a climax that has disaster written all over it.
Okay, not giving spoilers here, but why can't Bollywood films show more realistic and practical endings? Why do we need to bring a melodramatic twist to every tale?
Set in Rajasthan's Udaipur, Angrezi Medium starts as a story of a sweet-shop owner Champak Bansal (Irrfan), a single father raising his daughter, Tarika (Radhika Madan) who is at the cusp of adulthood.
Tarika has always harboured the dream to complete her education in a "foreign country" but Champak unwittingly jeopardises her only chance to get a scholarship from a prestigious university in London.
Then begins the struggle of a father who is ready to go the extra mile to get his daughter admitted to the university of her choice. As the story unfolds, both of them discover things that change their relationship, leading to the climax that, well, we did see coming.
In the garb of showing Tarika's story, the film tries to highlight the modern generation's fixation with foreign countries. Tarika's dream to go to London has less to do with academics and more about experiencing the life that youngsters enjoy in the West.
I particularly liked how Adajania establishes the emotional camaraderie of the father and daughter quite early on in the film. Tarika wants to enjoy her 'freedom', while Champak can't let go of her because you know how Indian dads are – super protective. Irrfan and Radhika's scenes together are genuinely emotional and endearing.
As for individual performances, Irrfan is pitch-perfect in every frame. His dialogues strike an instant chord with you, his eyes talk to you, his smile and tears make you laugh and cry with him. Angrezi Medium makes you realise that he was missed by the audiences as much as he would have missed facing the camera. It's largely known that Irrfan shot for Angrezi Medium while he was still undergoing treatment, but not for once you can make that out while watching him onscreen.
Radhika Madan plays the role of the innocent rebel but it is a weaker performance, especially after her pitch-perfect turns in Pataakha and Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota.
Besides Irrfan and Radhika's onscreen bonding, what totally wins hearts is Deepak Dobriyal's hilarious act. As Champak's rival and brother, Ghasiteram, he brings to the table such a fine performance that you can't help but crack up each time he is there onscreen doing those funny antics.
Talking about going overboard, Angrezi Medium burdens itself with a whole lot of ensemble cast. There's a childhood friend (Kiku Sharda), a shady NRI in London (Ranveer Shorey), a London cop who god knows why has a perpetually angry expression on her face (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and her single mother (Dimple Kapadia) who is quite refreshing to watch. And amid all this, there's Pankaj Tripathi, too, for some five-odd minutes and royally wasted in the film.
Angrezi Medium is one of those rare films in recent times that has a more engaging second half. Even then, you'd have to sit through some really unrealistic scenes, such as the one where Irrfan and Deepak get caught at the London airport and are deported to India. The duo then gets illegal passports made from an agent and pose as Pakistani citizens. Like, seriously?
All said and done, Angrezi Medium, a potentially good film, falls prey to poor execution and a weak screenplay. And in the end, it is the power-packed performance from Irrfan and Deepak that saves this sinking ship and lets it sail through.