‘Hichki’ - Rani Mukerji’s Teacher Act Has a Few Hiccups
Director: Siddharth Malhotra
Cast: Rani Mukerji, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Asif Basra, Shiv Subramaniam
“Aapki yeh hichkiyan kab band hongi?” asks one of the principals interviewing Naina Mathur aka Rani Mukerji. "Sir, ye Tourette Syndrome hai," she answers carefully spelling out details about her neuropsychiatric disorder due to which she makes some "sounds" while talking.
The film assumes that all of us have seen the trailer, googled "Tourette syndrome" and are well accustomed to seeing Rani Mukerji fidgety as she displays her motor and vocal tics and so it quickly gets on with it. "I’ve never seen a teacher with a speech disorder," said another interviewer, telling her to take up some other profession – but Naina has witty repartees ready for all naysayers.
Based on Brad Cohen's book Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me The Teacher I Never Had, co-authored by Lisa Wysocky, the film is an easy breezy take on inclusivity in schools in particular, and society in general.
Naina tries hard till St Notker's high school offers her a job and a seemingly insurmountable challenge – to teach and control the unruly class of 9 F. These kids are from a nearby basti and have been grudgingly accommodated into the school. Their antics, though, have driven away 8 new teachers in the past 7 months.
Director Siddharth P Malhotra packs in lots of heartwarming scenes about life in a school dealing with projects and extra sheets during exams, some dramatic dialogues about what a teacher should aim to achieve and tugging at our heart strings with the sheer simplicity and innocence of it all.
Also, the battle lines drawn are too simplistic. 9 A - a class of academic toppers and 9 F of hopelessly useless kids. What happened to the sections in between? Also, there appears to be a paucity of teachers. We see a total of just two – one rather unusually harsh and disapproving teacher played by the inimitable, Neeraj Kabi and the inspiring and always smiling Ms Naina. So the end seems like a foregone conclusion!
However, all is not lost. Rani Mukerji is in top form as she gracefully tackles life with her compulsive tics and "hichkis" . Also the young actors playing students being in a lot of honesty to their performance. The ensemble cast of Supriya Pilgaonkar, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Hussain Dalal and Asif Basra provide ample support.
Hichki would have been a much better film, if only its vision was not myopic and limited to a single classroom but inspite of the “hiccups” in the story , Rani's magic keeps the film Buoyant!
3 Quints out of 5!
Producer: Abhishek Ranjan
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Editor: Puneet Bhatia