Director: Siddharth P Malhotra
Duration: 120 minutes
When a woman with Tourette’s syndrome is hired to teach ninth standard students from economically backward classes in a school, she is determined to make them shining examples of education, but the rowdy kids and some snooty faculty members, who look down upon her for her neuropsychiatric disorder, only try to pull her down more.
Bollywood has recently started to dabble in films that depict rare disorders that are entirely new to common people. Take for example, Shah Rukh Khan’s Asperger’s Syndrome in ‘My Name Is Khan’, Amitabh Bachchan’s progeria in ‘Paa’, Farhan Akhtar’s schizophrenia in ‘Karthik Calling Karthik’, Darsheel Safary’s dyslexia in ‘Taare Zameen Par’ or for that matter Aamir Khan’s retrograde amnesia in the blockbuster ‘Ghajini’. Filmmakers have successfully tried to show the protagonist’s life-threatening disability, yet their ability to overcome a condition that becomes secondary, while they come up triumphant in life. Add to the list Rani Mukerji’s recent ‘Hichki’, which if not a masterpiece, is an engaging comeback vehicle for the feisty actress post motherhood.
The film begins with a highly qualified Naina Mathur (Rani Mukerji), who is down with Tourette’s syndrome, yet is always looking at the bright side of life. Although her parents (the Pilgaonkars) and her brother (Hussain Dalal) are supportive of her wanting to be a working professional despite her odds, it is the people who she meets outside the realms of her house that don’t let her make peace with her continuous tics.
Naina’s wait is finally over after five long years of trying and she is hired to coach an economically challenged lot of fourteen children in a school, which is ironically named after St. Notker the Stammerer. The ninth graders are a rebellious lot and would do anything to make sure Naina quits more quickly than she is hired. But Naina, having lived a life full of lows, makes sure she is able to bring about a positive change in her students with her out-of-the-box ideas and methods of teaching. What happens towards the climax is anybody’s guess, but that does not take away the director’s credibility in handling a totally new subject.
‘Hichki’, which belongs entirely to Rani Mukerji, is predictable in parts, but that is only a minor hiccup in an otherwise engaging film. Her superb acting and her ability to get into the skin of a character suffering from a rare, new disorder, is worthy of praise. Not only does she not miss a tic while mouthing dialogues, she also makes sure her expressions even during emotional scenes are spot-on. She breathes life into the film and provides a raw freshness to it. As for the other actors, Harsh Mayar (from ‘I Am Kalam’), the Pilgaonkars and Neeraj Kabi stand out in their different roles.
The first half is breezy with some real tear-jerking moments that might want you to pull out your hanky. The actors supporting Rani do their very best to match her acting talent and they do not disappoint. However, the hiccups come in the form of a stretched climax, an overly informative speech on the syndrome and the forced songs, which mar the pace of a tightly-woven script. Also, the utterly utopian depiction of the way things shape up for a differently-abled individual, especially in a country like India, is a bit hard to digest. But overall, the performance from all the actors is what makes the film worth watching.
To put it together, ‘Hichki’ (which might not mint crores for a few hichkis here and there), is a feel-good film that marks Rani’s roaring return to the silver screen.
Eventznu Rating: 3/5