Critics Hated Half Girlfriend, The Audience Love It

The disconnect between critical evaluations and audiences’ tastes has always been a  matter of much debate.

With the sneering contempt that most critics showered on Mohit Suri’s Half Girlfriend one would expect the castigated film’s fortunes to plummet by Saturday. In fact  I had a  worried Mahesh Bhatt(MohitSuri is his nephew)  predicting  a steep drop.

But Half Girlfriend has surprised all by raking in more than 20 croresin the first two days. This is quite an achievement for a film that has received a 1-star rating by some critics.

1 star? Really?? What exactly was being reviewed here? One of big grouses against the  film was Arjun Kapoor’s ‘Bihari’ accent. Firstly there is no language called ‘Bihari’ in Bihar. 3  different dialectsMaithili, Bhojpuri and Magahee are spoken in Bihar. Arjun  plays aMaithil Brahmin.He is a Jha  just like me. And he encounters the same prejudices  in Delhi  that I did at the beginning of  my career in Mumbai.

The number of times that I  was asked where I learnt to speak English and if I had cows in my backyard , was hard to keep track of.One editor, now retired, even suggested that I write my articles in Hindi as my English was not good enough.He was wrong. I was good. That’s why I survived.

After so many  years the prejudices that I fought still exist.I see no exaggeration in the way Arjun portrays  the insecurities  of the Bihariin the metropolis. Sure, his accent  is  a little in-your-face. But so was Alia Bhatt’s  in Udta Punjab. How come that didn’t bother the same critics who are now  busy ripping Arjun’s Bihari act apart as though it’s the worst regional portrayal by a Punjabi  Bollywood actor.

It is not. The worst homage to regionalism that I’ve seen by a mainstream  Bollywood actor was Shah Rukh’s Tamilianpersonality(curly wig, curd and Maggi for lunch)  in Ra.One.

I think Arjun is adequate as a Bihari hero in Half Girlfriend. And the film is certainly not the monstrosity it is made out to be by most critics.  It is a goodlooking well-intentioned adaptation of a ChetanBhagat novel. We all  know what that means. We can’t go to a ChetanBhagat adaptation excepting a 3 Idiots each time.

In 3 Idiots Raj Kumar Hirani had departed substantially from Chetan’s text. In Half Girlfriend director Mohit Suri is blindly devoted to Chetan’s written words. Almost as singlemindedly committed to being faithful as Arjun Kapoor’s character is to Shradha Kapoor.

So the critics found the emotions and inter-relations in Half Girlfriendshallow? Is Baahubali a great film because of its substantial characterizations and  nuanced  actors? Ha ha ha.

Why  is shallowness a  crime in Chetan Bhagat and excusable in other pop-art?


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