By Prerana Panja
I’ll be honest, I first saw this film the day after legendary actor Irrfan Khan passed away, I was fairly emotional and I didn’t look at the film objectively. At first glance I loved it solely because of my love for Irrfan Khan and my incredibly close relationship with my father, but I’ll try my best to be unbiased in my review.
Angrezi Medium is a 2020 Hindi language comedy-drama directed by Homi Adajania and stars Irrfan Khan and Radhika Madan in leading role. The film tells the story of a father-daughter duo and how far a father will go to fulfill his child’s dreams.
The film opens with a slate which defines a parent as “a strange creature with profound ability to love its offspring irrationally”. Anyone who has ever raised a child will agree that it’s a pretty fitting description and specially accurate in the case of the protagonist, Champak Bansal.
Champak Bansal, played by Irrfan Khan owns a sweet shop in Udaipur. He is a single parent and is committed to raising his only daughter Tarika (Radhika Madan). Early on in the film, it is established that their relationship is an affectionate one, Champak is both a mother and a father to Tarika. The scenes between them boast of charming chemistry and feel genuine. Tarika who is almost 18 has dreamt of going abroad ever since she was young and Champak has managed to put it off till now. This time though, when an opportunity to study at a top university in London presents itself, she is adamant to go. She works very hard and ultimately scores a scholarship and her father finally relents. But in a turn of events, he unintentionally sabotages her scholarship. Consumed by this guilt of shattering his daughters dreams and hardwork he promises to send her abroad to study, come what may. He soon learns its not a cheap affair, which sets out a series of adventures and misadventures.
The script which is credited to four writers, feels somewhat sloppy. The first half manages to keep the audience engaged but the second half of the story is largely a mess of meandering subplots and contrived conflicts which seem forced. Certain sub plots in the story seen ungainly and distracting, such as the part where Champak and his brother gopi who owns a sweet shop across the street get into a legal battle over the trademarked name, which has little bearing on the film’s plot.
One highlight of the film is Irrfan and Deepak Dobriyal’s unmissable chemistry, the two play off each other so well it almost feels like a well synchronised dance. Dobriyal who is a powerhouse of talent but is vastly underrated brings a different layer of humour with the quick and witty verbal exchange.
It is safe to say that this subpar script is saved only by the performances of the ensemble cast. Kareena Kapoor plays the role of a cop in London and Dimple Kapadia plays her mother, they are shown to have an estranged relationship but that isn’t their only identity. Both characters manage to gain credibility on their own and it gives you hope for the potrayal of strong independent female characters in films and not just as fillers. Their performance lit up the screen so well, its almost criminal to have not etched them and their relationship better.
Pankaj Tripathi too makes a cameo appearance and although his role is small, you can’t take your eyes off of him. He shines in the role of a Dubai based visa fixer who is tasked with aiding Champak and Gopi enter London, illegally. His acting and dialogue delivery are a stand out. In one of the scenes where the two shut down each of his risky suggestions he exasperatedly says to them “Yeh koi saree shop nahi hai..”koi aur option dikhao” “.
Radhika Madan does justice to the shy teenager who is doe eyed and unknowing of the world. Her modified nasal toned speech is at times inconsistent, but on the whole her performance will keep you engaged.
Despite the stellar performances, it’s difficult to overlook the script resorting to the same old fashioned and outdated worldview of Indian parents that family relations trump everything independence is frowned upon, Indian kids don’t fly the nest and that parents will always emotionally blackmail and guilt trip their children to get what they want.
If you can look past these problems, the film is at the center a heartwarming tale of a father and daughter and definitely worth a watch. The film’s music is also worthy of praise, Sachin-Jigar and Tanishk Bagchi deliver songs that will have your heart melt .
All in all the film isn’t perfect but it’s sure to leave a smile on your face.
Check out the trailer for the film:
The film is available for viewing on Disney+Hostar premium.