'Malang' has an unsatisfactorily flash first half: but still shows some promise on account of its dedication for proto-type 'Student of The Year' campus, and a niftily performing Vikrant Massey. Okay, the stage is set for an engaging second half. I was ready still to forget all what I saw in the first half and was prepared to delve in. But what I got in the second half was an excruciatingly unentertaining film with a bland Chetan Bhagat plot plastered onto it and a homegrown sense of melodrama that cannot work in any film this century. The director never gets right here. Arjun Kapoor is dumb as Madhav, and Shraddha is your standard urban girl.
The film's visual effects are bland and so sloppy that you want to close your eyes and sleep. As a critic I can't do that. All I can do is to give the film 1.5 stars and say that it is the worst Hindi film of 2017.
Good : Direction ( Good drama created in the first half ) , good music , Decent performance by the lead
weakness : second half gets too melodramatic , Predictable , dialogues are not too good , disappointing climax
If Mohit Suri's films are known for anything, then it's their soundtrack. The content of the films is usually rundown and uninspiring romance which sometimes even plays with the actors' careers. In this adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's bestselling young adult romantic novel Half Girlfriend, it looks like the thing about soundtrack may also be spiraling down.
Madhav (Arjun Kapoor) is a young student from Bihar who gets admitted to a reputable college in Delhi through sports quota. A skilled basketball player and amateur English speaker, Madhav falls head over heels in love with Riya (Shraddha Kapoor). And starts connecting with her with the hope to make her his girlfriend. Riya, herself an ace basketball player, reciprocates his connection requests, but plays mathematics when he pops the question. She says, "I can be your "half girlfriend"" and that she cannot go full. The story then moves forward to expose its undecipherable convoluted elements as Madhav tries to understand what that term really means.
The film strictly follows the plot of the 2014 book where Madhav is constantly in Riya's spell and is continuously trying to classify the type of relationship he is in (if at all), especially about which "half" he is in. With much attention given to the importance of English-speaking, the plot then suddenly flip flops between Bihar, Delhi, and New York, as the lead characters make rapid life decisions. Even if you do not understand why the characters do what they do, I'm sure you will notice the brand advertisements in every other frame. If one looks closer, the film looks like a 2-hour long advert for MakeMyTrip. And with my mentioning the brand in this review, I am sure the marketing budget of the bludgeoning Indian travels company has paid off.
The basic problem with the film is the character development. Arjun is unable to portray the true loverboy that Madhav is. Instead, he behaves like a magician's rabbit, always appearing where you think it would appear - around Riya. Shraddha, on the other hand - typecast, we call know - dilly dallies around in her scholar, fashionable, and affluent Riya character and exudes confusion. There's not a bit of realism in the proceedings, and in the second half, the degree of improbability hits the roof. One may like to call the story contrived, but there's an even better word for it: convoluted. Other big problem - and this one is crucial - is how the film is executed. This film is more of a musical than a steady romantic film - with a song or a montage appearing every five minutes. That is what wrecks the film's entertainment quotient as it fails to construct a proper, seamless storyline.
Both the Kapoors put up a below average show here, reminding us that Arjun may not be talented at all. Shraddha's previous films may save her, but the validity has definitely shortened. Seems Biswas looked out of character as Madhav's educationist mother, whereas both Vikrant Massey and Rhea Chakraborty do a fairly good job. The music by various artists is hummable, thanks to Arijit Singh and Anushka Sahaney. Rest of the filmmaking factors are best left unreviewed.
All in all, Mohit Suri's latest venture after the 2015 debacle Hamari Adhuri Kahani is worse. The romance is pulpy and unbelievable, for starters, and it's the last thing we are looking for in a year already giving us anxiety through the unpleasant world affairs. It automatically nominates itself to be ranked amongst the worst films of 2017.
BOTTOM LINE: Mohit Suri's "Half Girlfriend" fails to verify the theorem it so proudly boasts of, because modern love may be crooked, but not preposterous. Do not even read the book!
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? NO
Half Girlfriend, a film by Mohit Suri, is based on the novel by the same name written by Chetan Bhagat. Chetan had not received great reviews for his novel, he was criticized for bringing forced twists and turns. This review of the film is not done on the basis of Chetan’s book versus its adaptation by Mohit into the film. The review is done purely on the basis of what is shown on screen. Certainly, some minor changes have been done in the screenplay but overall it remains the same. The concept of half girlfriend was to focus on non-committal relationships, where the boy and the girl have the chemistry of being in a relationship but not clear about the same. They might love to hang-out even during odd hours, they need one another in their lives, but not ready to accept that they have a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. They are not ready to take their relationship to the next level. This film also showcases the story of a boy who is in love with a girl and wants to move ahead with her in life, but the girl feels that she could be more than a friend to him, but less than a girlfriend. So, the terminology used by her to define such a relationship is that of Half Girlfriend. They are not clear about their relationship status with each other. It is true that such relationships do exist, but somehow, the treatment of the subject is done in a very average manner. The film also deals with the linguistic challenges faced by Bhojpuri-laced Hindi speaking boy from Bihar who finds himself misfit amongst people speaking fluent English. Many would be able to relate with it, but somehow, it is not very convincing. It is true that our pronunciation does have regional influences. People from eastern, western, southern and northern parts of our country might pronounce the same word differently. Similarly Bihar is no exception, but what is so big deal about it. It is natural, we all have our own pronunciation, enunciation and diction. But what has been observed is that students from Bihar are the most hardworking lot in campus, be it their focus towards establishing their identity, be it their focus in civil services or be it their focus in creative areas. They are quick learners too, could be due to their persistence towards achieving excellence and prove to themselves that they are not lesser beings in comparison to anyone in this world. So, here is a film, where the lead protagonist is from Bihar, gets into one of the most prestigious college of Delhi University, still unable to get over his challenges of speaking English even after spending three years in the campus is beyond comprehension. He does not find it difficult to adjust to the cosmopolitan culture of the campus, but finds it difficult to pick up English. It is also not understandable that why the names of the place Dumrao and the college St. Stephen’s college were changed to Simrao and St. Steven’s College respectively. The very plot has loopholes, and so is the film.
The film begins with Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) rushing to a house to find that Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor) has left the house writing a letter to him. He travels to Delhi to hand over the letter to her mom and the story unveils as flashback during this train journey of Madhav. He is the prince of Simrao, whose mother Seema Biswas runs a school there for the underprivileged boys. He comes to Delhi to take admission in St. Steven’s College in Delhi University under sports quota (a basketball player) for BA Sociology. Riya also gets admission in sports quota. It is love at first sight for Madhav. He starts becoming friendly with Riya. Riya does take tips from Madhav in regard to the game, and also practices with him. They started hanging out together apart from game too. Madhav’s bunch of friends, especially Shailesh (Vikrant Massey) warns Madhav that he may not be a proper match to Riya who is from an affluent business family. Madhav does try to know Riya’s mind, for which her response was that she is his half girlfriend, more than a friend but less than a girlfriend. Madhav gets confused with her response. On his friends’ insisting, he does try to test her love which results in the fall out. Later the situations happen so that she chooses a different path in her life and moves away geographically. Madhav, unable to get over Riya, comes back to village after completing graduation. As it is quite predictable, Madhav and Riya’s paths cross once again. What happens to their relationship? How the story moves further? Does she become more than a half girlfriend to him ? Does their relationship status evolve? If yes, how?
The film does try to connect with the social mission of sanitation facilities and also ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ etc. This is a good effort, but does not blend naturally with the screenplay.
One of the most unconvincing scenes is when Riya chooses to unwind at the top of India Gate. It is simply impossible to get away from the eyes of the security guards and climb to the top of this monument.
Arjun and Shraddha are both mediocre in the film. In his previous films viz. Ishaqzaade, Gunday, 2 States, Finding Fanny, Tevar, Ki and Ka etc. he could bring many elements into his characters which made his screen presence very much noticeable and he did gather many positive feedbacks. But in this film, Arjun has not come out completely. It appeared as if he was not excited for this role. Shraddha looked pretty in some outfits and that is all about her. She needs to evolve a lot as far as acting is concerned. Vikrant Massey as Shailesh is good. He did deliver dialogues well. His expressions are also very good. Seema Biswas has very less of screen time and so does not have much to do. Rhea Chakraborty as Anshika (Shailesh’ wife) has a small role, but good.
Half Girlfriend is actually half-cooked, be it its romance, passion, friendship, acting, dialogues, screenplay. The very plot has loopholes, and so is the film. The songs ‘Baarish’, ‘Thodi Der’, ‘Phir bhi Tumko Chaahunga’ are certainly a great relief in the film.
What is the most important aspect of a movie? Hmm...well if you ask me it has to be the script. But that alone doesn't guarantee a good movie unless it is entrusted in the hands of a talented cast & crew. Irrespective of the language, literary works have always proved to be worthy scripts & over the years, many novels have been adapted into movies. Among the various novelists, Chetan Bhagat is one prominent name which pops up as many of his novels has been made into blockbuster movies such as "3 Idiots", "Kai Po Che" etc. His latest novel to have reached the 70mm screen is "Half Girlfriend". But will it be as successful as it's predecessors...hard to say, though to be frank, I dont believe it would.
Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor), the heir to an esteemed lineage from Bihar secures a seat at the prestigious St Stephen's College on the back of a sports scholarship. He gets smitten by his college mate Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor), who was more like a tomboy & flaunted her affluent background. But behind that bold exterior she was actually a lonely girl who longed for love & companionship. Though Madhav was head over heels for her, she preferred to be aloof at times as she wasn't keen on a commitment or in her own words would prefer nothing more than being a "half girlfriend. Their relationship didnt last for long as Riya dropped out of college & was married off to her family friend. As expected, Madhav wasn't able to cope with the heart break & tried to channelize his energy towards the welfare of his villagers.
The New York Times in 2008 cited Bhagat as "the biggest selling English language novelist in India's history". Well he might have sold quite a lot but a significant reason for the blockbusters was because they were in the hands of talented craftsmen like Rajkumar Hirani & Abhishek Kapoor. Mohit Suri does have some huge hits under his belt like "Aashiqui 2", "Murder 2" etc., but I don't quite consider him of the same caliber. Since I haven't read the novel, I can't comment as to how faithful the movie has been to it. But the fact is the plot itself is rather vague & the characters come across as rather shallow that you cant help cringing at times; not to forget that Mohit had chosen a wrong set of lead pairs who doesn't do justice to the requirements of their characters.
If you would look at the track record of Mohit Suri, one positive aspect in almost all of his movies is the music. More often than not, all of them had atleast one chart buster & it's pretty much the same here as well. There are a host of music directors at work here & they have produced a couple of soulful tracks such as "Baarish", "Phir Bhi Tumko" etc. The visuals doesn't deserve special mention & Devendra Murusdeshwar's editing left a lot to be desired. Coming to the performances, neither Arjun nor Shraddha had the capabilities to pull off the characters. The one person who did impress was Vikrant Massey who has done a fine job as Shailesh.
Verdict: There are no two words about it, the film has a lot of pitfalls in the script & it was further handicapped by two lead actors who doesnt have it in them the ability to enact with conviction. To make matters worse, they had zero chemistry between them. Even though not intended to be hilarious, the scene where they superimposed Bill Gates's face on someone else's body just shows how tacky the making has been. In short, better to watch the IPL final rather than give yourself a headache!!!
'Half Girlfriend' can leave a reviewer at a loss for words. It is
regressive, silly and incoherent. There was no chemistry at all between
Shraddha Kapoor & Arjun Kapoor and also adding Arjun's dead
performance. Neither a compelling tearjerker nor an epic contemporary
romance, Half Girlfriend is definitely not the film to celebrate modern
love. The only thing which was a saviour to this misfire is its Songs.
As always, Arijit did a splendid performance with 'Phir Bhi Tumko
Chahunga' and 'Baarish','Tu Thodi der' making it a chartbuster. I would
advise to avoid Half Girlfriend and instead watch Hindi Medium in which
Irrfan gives another brilliant performance
My Rating :2/5