Half Girlfriend, based on the book by Chetan Bhagat, stars Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor. The Mohit Suri-directed film is the big Bollywood release this week. Here is our Half Girlfriend movie review.
Half Girlfriend, starring Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor and directed by Mohit Suri, is the big Bollywood release today. Here is our Half Girlfriend review.
Given that the film is called Half Girlfriend, from Chetan Bhagat's book of the same name, one would be tempted to write half-reviews of it. But lesser mortals like us need to make do with the entire movie, more than two-hours of mind-numbing torture, and then get out of the theatre to write full reviews of half-films. First things first, Half Girlfriend - Dost Se Zyada Girlfriend Se Kam (that's the full name of the film, yes) the movie does not begin in 'writer Chetan Bhagat's room'. Kudos to director Mohit Suri for that. But chopping out Chetan Bhagat's parts from Half Girlfriend has probably done it more bad than good. Imagine, a thing like that were even possible!
So Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor, trying hard to look like a 17-year-old but failing miserably) 'coming from village area' reaches St. Steven's (sic) College for the interviews. He tries hard to impress the panel with his knowledge of 'samajshastra' (Sociology!). After a half-English-half-Hindi speech, Madhav reaches the basketball court for the trials (he's applied through Sports quota) and spots Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor, learning how to get on your nerves, one film at a time).
He falls in love, at first sight, with next-to-no attention from Riya. He tells her a few basketball moves with which she nails the trials and fist-bumps follow. Madhav and Riya bond over basketball, bad English and worse chemistry. Madhav's roommate Shailesh (Vikrant Massey in an earnest supporting role) is not very happy with this 'Riya naam ki sonchidaiya' who is making him dance to her tunes.
One fine day, Shailesh decides to ask Madhav to test Riya on whether she loves him or not. 'Test?' asks Madhav. The answer is obvious, get her to your room and do the do. When Riya is hit by a bout of headache in the middle of their basketball practice sessions, Madhav takes her to his room, making sure it is visible to his friends and roommate.
The turning point of the novel Half Girlfriend follows, albeit a dilute version of the line 'Deti hai toh de, varna kat le' ('F*ck me, or f*ck off', in Mr Bhagat's words) : 'Rehti hai toh reh, varna kat le'. Good judgment: 1, Masala: 0.
Half Girlfriend then takes the viewer from Delhi to Simraon in Bihar (good job there changing Dumraon to Simraon, Half Girlfriend team... who would risk another case!) to Delhi to New York and back to Simraon. There are several insipid twists on the way that you can guess from half a mile away. There's Bill Gates's face photoshopped on to a random white guy, the face being in competition with Shraddha Kapoor's in a who-can-emote-less contest.
Director Mohit Suri tries hard to save this half-baked story with many wistful songs and rain numbers... the latter would need an entire page to itself. Riya Somani's obsession with walking out in the rain, eyes half-open, is used so many times and in so many places that you want to shift to the Atacama once you're done with the film.
While writing Half Girlfriend, Chetan Bhagat might have known that it would eventually be developed into a Bollywood film, hence there are half-speeches on patriotism and loving your own language, 'Hindi', thrown in into the story. There's a reference to the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' campaign too.
One of the important sequences in the film is Riya helping Madhav to deliver a speech for Bill Gates, in English. So when Madhav recites to her 'We needing', 'we wanting' and what not, and you see Riya nodding - this Steven's alumna whose life is spent breathing in English - you realise that this is the Chetanverse. All English is correct here.
All of these, however, lose their way and land in Madhav's journey to find his half-girlfriend.
The redeeming factors of Half Girlfriend, and there aren't many, are Seema Biswas (who plays Madhav's mother) and Vikrant Massey (always the dependable friend). The film is peppered with absurdities of the kind that would make you want to slash your wrist. Madhav and Riya climb on top of the India Gate to exchange half-relationship glances first, and Riya's wedding card later. There are tracks involving Riya's marriage and the Simraon School which you can't feel for no matter how much you try.
Arjun Kapoor tries his best to step into the shoes of Madhav Jha, but thanks to the story of Half Girlfriend, there's nothing much he can do. His half-girlfriend in Half Girlfriend, Shraddha Kapoor, seems to be excelling at the art of distancing the viewer from her on-screen avatar. So much so by now, that there's nothing that makes you feel for Riya Somani. She might be laughing, crying her heart out, dying, living, and all you can do is yawn.
By the end of the film, you're a confused mess. You don't know if it's got something to do with love, or relationships, or women education and empowerment, or moving on in life, or the English-Hindi divide... you just don't know.
Beware of Half Girlfriend. You'll let go of half your sanity within the theatre.