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
A Fraction of Romance. ♦ Grade F
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 is actually half-cooked, be it its romance, passion, friendship, acting, dialogues, screenplay.
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.