In India, the idea of an individual, leaving his or her nest to seek out a future, a life of their own is labeled as the biggest horror our traditional familial structures face. But today the era is more about free relationships, where parents are making an attempt to understand that stifling their child’s aspirations just so they never create a life that is independent of theirs goes right against the love they proclaim for their child. And yet, even as Homi Adjania’s Angrezi Medium begins on a note to take a stand for this very revolution-of-sorts, it recedes backs to its stereotypical conservatism, they very thing it was challenging in the first place. The typical Bollywood cliche.
Any Bollywood film that dared to go against a set-in-stone mentality has scampered back to solidifying that very mindset. Like Oh My God challenging God’s existence, only to bring in a CGI-ed Akshay Kumar as God towards the end. Angrezi Medium, too, goes down the same cliched lane as it attempts to call out a flawed traditional structure, only to scurry back to it conservative roots that promise normality.
Angrezi Medium introduces us to a Udaipur sweet shop owner Champak Bansal (Irrfan Khan), a single father who is besotted to provide his daughter Tarika (Radhika Madan) the best education possible. For the first 20 minutes of the film, we get to witness an endearing father-daughter relationship, before Tarika’s obsession with going abroad takes over the plot. She works hard to earn her a scholarship in a prestigious London university, but her father jeopardizes her opportunity, realizing his mistake when her chance had passed. So, now, Tarika studying abroad has to funded by Champak’s small-town income.
Now it is up to him to get over his fear of losing her forever and overcome his financial challenges to fulfill her dreams. While we agree that parents are known to invest their life’s earnings for their child’s future, Tarika’s aspirations have hardly anything to do with any academic curiosity and are more about living her romanticized version of phoren life.
This hardly warrants the obsessive commitment of Champak, who lands up in London with his cousin Gopi (an excellent Deepak Dobriyal) and getting embroiled in a series of misadventures and misunderstandings that seem too ludicrous even for a comedy film, but thanks to Irrfan’s capability to infuse anything with his infectious energy and Doobriyal’s magic we have witnessed in past films, it works, at least in the first half. As we get to the second half, it gets more and more bizarre, what with Irrfan and Dobriyal’s characters being deported from London and then sneaking back in by posing as Pakistani citizens. Logic, it seems, has no place in Angrezi Medium.
Just to induce some drama in the aimless comedy, we get introduced to a bickering mother and daughter- Dimple Kapadia and an always angry Kareena Kapoor Khan. And because we hardly know their story, what happens between them would have depleted even more of our sliding attention, had it not been for Kareena and her capability to steal the show even if it is for a few minutes.
As for Irrfan and Radhika Madan’s chemistry, it is tender and initially manages to project an evolving father-daughter bond before it spirals into a melodrama. We are subjected to Champak calling every child who dreams of building his own life selfish and blames them for using their parents for 18 years. We are, once again, face-to-face with the Indian mentality that “a parent is always right”, that the possibility of a bad parent doesn’t exist. The progressive story arc that Angrezi Medium began on sputters near the end as we see Champak guilt tripping and manipulating his daughter into doing what he thinks is right.