Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Half Girlfriend 

Same Old Story

For years and years, it has been a Bollywood formula to have two people from different class backgrounds fall in love. So Mohit Suri’s Half Girlfriend based on Chetan Bhagat’s book is not all that new.

All it does is somewhat modernize the old formula, which still feels strange when a girl who is hanging out, making out and being emotionally dependent on a guy is surprised when he expresses romantic feelings for her. In today’s age, Riya’s (Shraddha Kapoor) simpering seems very out of date.

Her ‘half boyfriend’ is Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor), princeling of a small  Bihari village, who manages to get into an elite Delhi college in the sports quota, but cannot speak English. “Even the grass grows in English here,” he despondently tells his mother (Seema Biswas) on the phone, just before spotting a French-braided basketball player who gives him reason to stay on.

Riya is the poor little rich girl, who deals with the domestic violence situation at home by soaking in the rain (hence, baarish song is a must), drowning out the noise by strumming her guitar and singing the same song, or sneaking up to the top of India Gate.  A girl ideally meant for a few sessions with a shrink, but she prefers the slavish devotion of Madhav, bad English and all. With all the romance (on his part) and friendzoning (on her part) when they find the time to study is never established. College, like in so many other films, is just a location to shoot.

Riya dumps him to marry a man of her own social status, bumps into him again in Patna where he is seeking funds for the village school from the Bill Gates Foundation (he actually makes a poor CGI cameo), picks up the romance-friendzone thread again and this goes on and on, till everybody but Madhav can see that he is unhealthily obsessed, and also cannot take no for an answer.

For those who have read better books and seen better romantic films, Half Girlfriend is quite flat.  It is redeemed somewhat by the stars emoting away earnestly, but a supporting actor, Vikrant Massey, as the loyal friend, gets some of the best lines and walks away with every scene he is in.

Mohit Suri and his writers need a crash course in Delhi snobbery for describing a tiny diamond on a chain as “baroque.”


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