Hindi Medium: It is Saba Qamar’s world, and we all just live in it
When was the last time you saw a Pakistani actress killing it in Bollywood? Mahira Khan, you say? I consider her a part of the production design for Raees and not the cast, since she was nothing more than a pretty looking prop in a movie dominated by Shah Rukh Khan and narrative absurdities.
Hmm, so your comeback is Humaima Malick? Ever wondered why she is rarely seen anywhere on screen after the disaster that was Raja Natwarlal? Next up, Meera ji? Oh so you are being funny now, you cheeky bugger you. Mawra Hocane? Like seriously, are you kidding me? I am not even going to dignify that with a response.
But finally, we have someone from these shores who did not just go to Bollywood to play embarrassingly awkward eye-candy; we have somebody who wasn’t happy being sexually objectified, because she got a role in a Bollywood flick.
Step forward, Saba Qamar, the Pakistani diva who crossed borders not just to increase numbers, but with the potential to become number one.
Mita Batra aka Honey (Qamar), is married to Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) who is quite content with his ecosystem living in Delhi’s infamous Chandni Chowk. Life is all hunky dory for the nouveau riche Raj selling original copies of designer wear. But wife Mita – who realises, how despite their riches, can’t break into the hallowed company of the true elites because they can’t fluently converse in the Queen’s language – is eager to angrezify (refine/make it more English) their lifestyle. This is because she wants her daughter, Pia, to get an admission into a fancy English medium school.
Moving from the under-privileged hustle bustle of the old city to a swanky home in south Delhi, an admissions consultant and multiple efforts later, the duo are still nowhere close to the elusive Holy Grail, the uber exclusive Delhi Grammar School, headed by Ms Lodha (Amrita Singh). This is where Raj finds out about the Right to Education Act (ghareeb (poor) quota) which requires them to fake being poor.
Willing to go the extra mile, Mita and Raj are on the move again, this time shifting to an impoverished neighbourhood. But would this prove enough to get Pia in to the school of their elitist dreams? That’s what forms the rest of the plot.
Director Saket Choudhary has chosen to tell a story which hits a little too close to home for a lot of people on both sides of the border – the same colonial overlords, the same obsession with vilayati boli (foreign language) as a status symbol. But Choudhary takes a leaf out of the acclaimed Indian director Rajkumar Hirani’s levity booklet by taking this serious issue of the great language divide and packaging it in satirical humor to nudge you into thinking about it.
The writing is on point with perfectly timed comedy – the delicious cherry atop this cinematic cake.
But the real reason why Hindi Medium does so well is the lead duo of Khan and Qamar. While fans of Indian cinema have grown accustomed to Khan’s powerhouse performances over the years – and he doesn’t disappoint this time around either – the real surprise for a vast majority of people is the acting of our best female export to Bollywood.
Qamar is just plain fantastic as the Chandni Chowk lass with social climbing aspirations. The best part is that she is good and she very well knows it. She recently boycotted one of our country’s premier award event citing how the show was not worthy of her attendance.
“Ever since I have had a Bollywood stamp, all the top brands are chasing me for endorsements. Where were all the brands before I went to India? No one has ever approached me for the last 13 years that I have been working.”
Talking to Hindustan Times, a leading Indian daily, Qamar proudly added,
“Even Hindustan Times and Pinkvilla have compared me to Mahira Khan and given a verdict that my performance is far better than hers in Raees.”
And we totally concur.
Qamar is a complete package and has everything right down from incredible looks to a fantastic acting ability. It is one thing signing a film with Khan, supposedly the best brown, actor on the face of God’s green earth, but holding her own against him deserves some serious appreciation.
For now, it is Qamar’s world, and we all just live in it.
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