Review: ‘Angrezi Medium’ Is Irrfan’s Show All the Way
A spin-off on the much-loved 2017 Hindi Medium, Angrezi Medium makes us realise right at the outset how much we missed seeing Irrfan Khan on screen.
It’s where he shines his brightest. The film was shot at time when Irrfan was bravely recovering from illness. While his health battle continues, the actor is in impeccable form, doing what he does best – effortlessly bringing his character to life on screen.
Here, he plays Champak Bansal, a single father bringing up his daughter. Taarika (Radhika Madan) is an average student, and shares an endearing bond with her dad, with has big dreams of traveling the world.
Champak soon realises that no matter how much he tries and keeps her aspirations in check because of his own fears, she is likely to leave him... but his unconditional love for the daughter eventually gets him to relent. The only problem – he unintentionally commits an act that jeopardises her scholarship to a university in London. So now, if Taarika wants to study at the university she has her heart set on, Champak would have to pay for it out of his own pocket.
There are four writers, Bhavesh Mandalia, Gaurav Shukla, Vinay Chhawall and Sara Bodinar, credited with writing the story, but sadly they end up pulling the film in four different directions.
Angrezi Medium meanders endlessly and makes many unnecessary stops along the way. Director Homi Adajania has the mammoth task of keeping us engaged for almost 145 minutes, but he succeeds only sporadically. We make many stops, sometimes in a courtroom where the family is shown fighting a case, or to follow a shady travel agent who smuggles you into foreign lands. Champak and his younger brother also befriend an angry old lady while trying to steer clear of a London cop. And it’s as frustrating as waiting for an ad to be over before we can watch a YouTube video... except the point of the story never emerges.
There are a lot of interesting threads that are introduced, only to be eventually abandoned. One is the daughter’s obsession with going abroad. It isn’t as much about academic excellence but more about being starry-eyed about a culture and way of life she has little exposure to.
There’s also the element of parents going all out to fulfil their child’s dreams. And then there’s the generational tussle about holding one’s own and fighting for privacy and eventually flying away from the nest. How does the parent deal with empty nest syndrome?
Sadly, Angrezi Medium somehow finds solace in emotional blackmail and guilt tripping the kid into submission. It’s problematic and also deeply unsettling, not just the “submission” to the parent’s wishes, but also how the film chooses to deal with a young girl’s quest to experience life.
Dimple Kapadia as a sour-tempered older woman, Kareena Kapoor as an always angry cop and Ranvir Shorey as the dubious childhood friend Babloo, are amongst the best.
Pankaj Tripathi, in a bit role-playing as a shady Dubai-based agent, is so good that one resents the fact that he has such little screen time.
For the most part, Angrezi Medium belongs to Irrfan and Deepak Dobriyal. The comic timing they conjure up is brilliant. Their scenes together and especially those with Kiku Sharda have a charm of their own – although in the larger scheme of things, it amounts to nothing much as far as taking the story forward is concerned. Radhika Madan as a girl on the cusp of adulthood is fine, but her halting dialogue delivery betrays a slight unease.
However, it’s when the camera rests on Irrfan that everything seems to come together. Here is an actor who conveys so much so effortlessly. A compelling performance as a doting father, and his trademark style of wry humour is as effective as ever. It’s an Irrfan show all the way in a film that suffers from its own overwrought plot twists.
Rating: 2.5 Quints out of 5.