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Hichki movie review: It Skirts Greatness Via Rani’s Performance

Hichki
Hichki

Film: Hichki

Starring: Rani Mukerjee, Neeraj Kabi,

Directed by: Sidharth P Malhotra

Rating: ****(4 Stars)

There  is a disarming idealism  at  the heart of this inspirational tale  told without frills of fancy. The flights  of daring that  the protagonist Naina Mathur undertakes never seems irrelevant. On many occasions I found  the plot veering towards a sweeping sentimentality that , given other  circumstances, would be  considered manipulative.

Not here.

Hichki dives deep into the collective consciousness of  a nation inured in  prejudices and comes up with some well-served lessons on humanism tolerance and generosity.  It may not be India’s To Sir With Love.  But by Jove, Rani Mukerjee in what easily ranks  as  her career’s best performances(yes, better than Black) gives Mr Sidney Pottier a  run for his heroic stature.

The  plot derives its creative  juices from a real-life British teacher  who suffered  from the Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder that  causes painful verbal dysfunction  in the sufferer. It’s astonishing how Rani takes over the sufferer’s role without allowing the disease to impede  her  character’s ingrained sunniness of countenance.

 When faced  with a classroom filled with contumacious  students from the slums(played by young actors who frequently  act with representational emphasis) Rani’s Naina  never falters,  and never mind her tongue.  It’s only when she is with her estranged father(Sachin Pilgoankar) that she loses  her cool. Rani’s  Naina’  two dining-table sequences  with her screen-father are marvels  of screenwriting drama, packaged and  performed in pitch-perfect harmony.When the father’s patronizing sympathy gets too  much Rani marches  off to the kitchen to make rotis, venting her need  to exhale in the kneading.

 It is  the slum students  who needed to be a little less soap operatic. In a   film  where the message is emblematized in gloriously lucid episodes  the ragged  bunch of slumkids go too swiftly from rebellious to sweet-natured. Their changeover seems almost pre-ordained.

Also, Read 7 Reasons Why Hichki Can Be Winner For Rani Mukherji!

Not that their abrupt  character transformation takes away from the blithe reformatory  mood and reined-in  vivacity that  shoot across the narrative with splendid  sincerity. Not a  moment in the storytelling is lost in humbug. Every minute counts. And while some of the scenes showing Rani’s flourishing bonding with her students is  keenly melodramatic   the actress sails  above  the stagnant pools  of water  that the plot often  encounters.

 Rani Mukerjee makes her Tourette-informed  character unwavering in her upbeatness and  yet no giddyheaded breathless optimist. The pain comes gushing out in a sequence where she pounds and pummels  her uncontrollable  mouth almost as though she were sparring with her destiny.

The astounding Neeraj Kabi as the cynical  teacher who  thinks  slum  is synonymous with  scum keeps his  character grey without getting into grime.

 What I  liked about Rani’s Naina more than her  textbook-perfect  rapport with her students  is  her  bonding with her mother(SipriyaPilgaonkar) and brother(Husain Dalal). I wish there  was more of them in the film. I wish there were  more Naina Mathurs in this world  who can teach all of us a thing  or two about being human without making humanism a  logo on a teeshirt.

Hichki  is  a work of wondrous lightheartedness. Its absence  of cynicism and  its touching belief  in  the  power  of benevolence and generosity could get  a wee overpowering for  many of us who face brutal betrayals every day. But isn’t life in cinema  all aboutalchemizing the pain  and hurt into art?  Hichki does  that quite  often and quite effectively.

Cinematographer  Avinash Arun fills the frames with hope and sunshine without killing the spirit of struggle that underlines every step of Naina’s journey.

Also Read: Rani Mukherji turns 40, Here are 11 Rarely Known Facts About Her!

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