Half Girlfriend Movie Review: It Is A  Non-Seasonal Valentine’s Day Tearjerker!

Half Girlfriend

Starring: Arjun  Kapoor &  Shradha Kapoor

Directed by: Mohit Suri

Rating: *** ½(3 and a half stars)

Movie Review: You can  accuse Chetan Bhagat’s novels of  being lots  things from silly to shallow.  But you can never fault them  for their entertainment value.

Director Mohit Suri known to make cinema on compulsive love(Aashiqui 2, Ek Adhuri Kahaani) takes the theme of  self-annihilation in  a romantic association to the extreme, bringing  out his hero , a Bihari non-English medium type in Delhi who falls for a girl much higher than her heels and his social status, as a love-struck wimp obsessed with his object of adoration to the point of complete self-ruination.

This was how Chetan  Bhagat meant his novel to be. The man-woman equation was seen in the light of status and social standing and then judged within the parameters  of  a heart-to-heart  connection.  Director Suri amplifies the theme of love between unequals.The complications are  frail and far-fetched .Rustic BihariMadhav Jha(Arjun Kapoor, uninterrupted in his sincerity) is not only incurably in  love with socialite Riya Somani(Shradha Kapoor, cool in her designer clothes) he will follow her to the  end of the world…or to New York where she shows up in a most unconvincing finale.

But I don’t think Chetan Bhagat and Mohit Suri intended Half Girlfriend  to be real and obtainable look at  life and relationships.In fact I am pretty sure their take on love is as distanced from reality as Mohit Suri is from  Anurag Kashyap.

Half Girlfriend moves in a head-in-the-clouds fog of satiny sensations. It is fetchingly  shot by cinematographer Vishnu Rao who sees the romance through a filtered haze. Arjun Kapoor maintains  a gaze of  steadily fixed state of adoration on Shradha Kapoor .The gaze occasionally lusts over, but no damage done. Arjun Kapoor helps give his character the aura of  an urgent sense of obsessive love that is needed. It’s a capable performance underpinned  by a sense of unspoken anguish that takes the lover-hero through many levels of change and acceptance.

Shradha shines when she has to express the tragic boredom of being over-privileged. So unabashedly affluent is her character that thebackstory  of a troubled childhood almost seems like an afterthought.And when she takes off for New York you know her designer existence, replete  with tragic delusions of a  singing dying songs in  a jazz bar of NY, is complete.

The love story works because the two Kapoors play the adoring and the adored with a hangdog heft and a haughty grandeur , respectively. The rest of the cast gets swathed in  a scriptural haze that  they don’t deserve. I wanted to see more of  Vikrant Massey  and Seema Biswasplaying Madhav’s best friend and mother. And I certainly wanted to see more of the stunning Rhea Chakraborty who shows up at  the end as Madhav’s  blind date.It’s the role of the woman who loses love even before she finds it.

What I didn’t want to see are all those strenuous attempts to build a social conscience and toilets  in rural India,into what is predominantly a  pop-romance . Half Girlfriend is a gorgeous-looking film with no real relevance beyond its Valentinian boundaries, with  plenty of unspoken chemistry between the lead pair. It could have done with less schmaltz and more raw passion, less cuteness and more real emotions.

But here is the thing. It delivers exactly the charming  confection thatChetan Bhagat’s novel attempted to be.

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