The most notable thing about Angrezi Medium is the array of interesting actors it has managed to get on board. Most of them, however, are either confined to miniscule roles or fall victims to flat, banal writing, one that they themselves can’t salvage despite their consummate performative skills and screen presence. And to think, that the writing credit is shared by four writers. It’s one too many writers that spoils the plot.
Forget flying, the film doesn’t seem to hold together well on the ground despite an interesting premise. Champal Bansal (Irrfan Khan), a sweetshop owner in Udaipur, wants to help his daughter Tarika (Radhika Madan) realise her dream of going to London for further studies. This could have been an interesting and endearing peep into the relationship between a protective-possessive single father and a daughter who wants to sport wings and take off. It could have also pirouetted on the issues of class dynamics and mobility. Far from it.
Instead of any focused progression in the narrative, the film, at best, remains a random collection of disjointed and insanely long sequences and stretched gags. A slapstick but utterly unfunny courtroom battle over the title of a sweet shop, another protracted one of Champak giving speech in broken English at a function in Tarika’s school to bring the spotlight on a corrupt judge. There is more: an outpouring of confessions during a drinking session with brother Gopi (Deepak Dobriyal) and friend (Kiku Sharda), a set piece involving cricket-loving Londoner Babloo (Ranvir Shorey), deportation drama at Heathrow and procuring illegal passport in Dubai from Tony (Pankaj Tripathi). All scenarios that mine broad stereotypes and dish out inane, contrived and infantile humour.
The improbable twists and turns of the plot would have worked, as they do in a lot of mainstream films, if there was an intrinsic panache and inherent ability to handle the silly. Here everything looks laboured to the hilt. The material and the maker clearly don’t belong to each other. There are other basics missing. The Rajasthani accent of the characters seems to come and go at its own sweet will and leisure. Radhika Madan’s way of talking, that prolonged drawl, gets particularly mannered and grating. One misses the crucial spontaneity between her and Khan in their interplay and face-offs. In fact Khan hits it off better with brother Deepak Dobriyal. Angrezi Medium is the film one had been waiting for, to see Khan back in big screen glory. He gets into the groove effortlessly but the film lets him down.
The lesser characters get in to the film and out of it without any notice. Tillotama Shome was gone before I could take two sips of coffee. Strangely the only moments that worked for me were the ones involving a confrontation between the mother-daughter duo that Champak and his brother bump into in London. Dimple Kapadia and Kareena Kapoor, the lengths of their appearance notwithstanding are the actors who light up the screen for a brief time. It’s criminal to have not etched them and their relationship, well.
News Source: The Hindu