By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | March 23, 2018
Rating: 2 / 5
The essence: Hichki is ‘all over’; Director Siddharth P Malhotra seems ambushed by Tourette’s Syndrome and in the bargain bombs his audience! Rani Mukerji can only do so much. The script offers her no scope to get into convincing mode. The supporting cast at best are plastic, not knowing where to go, from the limited scope they have been given to perform.
Tourette’s Syndrome is the hero in Hickhi. Throughout the film, the neuropsychiatric disorder is highlighted with ‘screaming delight’ by director Siddharth P Malhotra. Everything else takes a backseat as the disorder (characterized by multiple motor tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic.) takes centre stage. Soon after Rani Mukherjee’s Naina Mathur is introduced to the viewer, you know where the film is headed. The scenes that follow are predictable.
You know H from I and C from H before K can meet I!
The other hero or heroes of the film are the carefully selected cast that make up for the school kids, both from the rich class and the ones coming from the slums, as Right To Education, is something you cannot take away from anyone. For those coming from the slums, because the playground reclaimed by the school belonged to the slums, there is a special division in STD IX—9F. There are around 14 kids here.
Many teachers have left this terrible class that houses difficult children; not disabled, simply children who want to challenge society, who they feel is mocking them, not giving them equal opportunities.
Naina, who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome since childhood has been shuttling from school to school in search of a teaching job, but her disorder, which in no way belittles her intelligence, comes in the way of the faculty who fail to see beyond her hiccups and abrupt annoying motor movements.
St. Nortkers School who have refused her a job earlier hire her as they have no choice: no teacher wants to teach class 9F. Incidentally this is the same school that welcomed Naina after many schools refused her admission as a child because of her disorder. Even the principal of St Nortker (Khan Teacher, played by Vikram Gokhale) shows his concern for her by calling her on stage after a performance which has been interrupted by her constant hiccups!
It is such an inappropriate scene that you wonder what logic got it there!
Anyways, coming back to Naina’s job, she is over the moon as she bags the teaching offer. She has just ignored an offer from a bank, courtesy her dad. Her dad (Sachin Pilgaonkar) you see, had run away from his responsibilities, wanting to live life on his own. He, however, keeps butting into her life with job offers, and sometimes ordering her food when she takes time to let the words out, thus embarrassing her.
Naina takes up the job with the challenging kids and turns a bunch of ruffians into toppers in just under four months! Oru (Sparsh Khanchandani), a student from her class even tops STD IX beating brilliant students from 9 A.
In between there is another teacher Wadia (Neeraj Kabi) with his nose in the air who constantly ridicules the 9F children, a principal who is patient but loses his cool towards the end and a school peon (Asif Basra) who jumps in from the periphery to spice up the script.
A film on a disorder needs tact to tackle. Taaree Zameen Par directed by Aamir Khan was a beauty that highlighted dyslexia by keeping the story at the centre and revolving the characters around it.
Hichki is ‘all over’; Malhotra seems ambushed by Tourette’s Syndrome and in the bargain bombs his audience!
Rani Mukerji can only do so much. The script offers her no scope to get into convincing mode. The supporting cast at best are plastic, not knowing where to go, from the limited scope they have been given to perform.
It is the kids, all of them who are the scene stealers with their stellar performances. They perform without a hiccup (no pun intended) making an otherwise tiresome movie into a watchable fare. Watch out for Jannat Zubair Rahmani who plays Natasha, Shagufta Shaikh who plays Shagufta, Vikrant Soni (Killam), Harsh Mayar (Aatish) and Sparsh Khanchandani (Oru). All of them rock the class without rocking their brief—applause-worthy performance.
If at all you want to watch Hichki, watch it for these talented kids.
Producer: Maneesh Sharma
Director: Siddharth P Malhotra
Star Cast: Rani Mukherjee, Neeraj Kabi, Harsh Mayar, Vikrant Soni, Jannat Zubair Rahmani