Free Press Journal

Half Girlfriend: Half-way romance


Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Seema Biswas, Rhea Chakravarthy, Anisa Bhatt, Vikram Massey

Director: Mohit Suri

Chetan Bhagat’s book ‘Half Girlfriend’ drew a lot of flak from the trolls on social media for it’s ridiculous title while the book itself offered nothing more than a half-baked quasi affair that doesn’t ever come to fruition. This movie by hit filmmaker Mohit Suri follows the same route as far as the narrative is concerned…and of course there are the requisite standard bearing soulful musical numbers to ease your way through.

This is an undercooked story about an impoverished unpolished young Prince, Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) from interior Bihar no less, who falls for the unattainable, delicate, super-rich commoner, Reya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor) the first time he sets eyes on her at the basketball court in St Stephen’s College, Delhi. A year later, after being humiliated by his friends, she cuts off the half-girl-friendship and ups and gets married to an NRI Hotelier Rohan.

And then 3 years later they are back in business. He bumps into her at a Patna hotel where he is pitching to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation for setting up a girls’ school in his village.

Curiously despite 3 years of Sociology in an English medium college, the Prince has been unable to pick up even a smattering of English. Now that he needs to do a good job of it for the pitching session, he ropes in Reya to give him tuitions. And then kaboom.

The story has nowhere to go and you know it right at the start itself. Despite a non-linear attempt (to confuse), you can predict what’s going to happen from way afar. Director Mohit Suri tries his best to smoothen up things and add some weight to the telling but neither the songs nor the add-on hi-jinks can make this one bearable.

Madhav’s obsession with Reya is subversive while Reya’s fascination for slumming it comes across as a lark. For some of their special moments together they even sneak out to the top of India Gate a couple of times and conveniently, there are no cops present when they are around. Both of them love the rain yet when they deliberately walk in it they never get wet and to top it, their basketball skills are better than the star players of the NBA. Madhav is the diffident, self-conscious oaf but it’s Reya who gets all unsure when asked to sing in public. Madhav gets easily wound up by his dorm mates, all from Jharkhand and Bihar, who feel much more strongly about his humiliation than even he does. The characterizations are all wonky and inconsistent.

There are far too many inconsistencies in the plotting and the logical flow in the character arch are missing. Arjun Kapoor speaks Bihari/Bhojpuri fluently but his performance here is pretty much awkward and ungainly.

The way he plays Madhav, he comes across as dumb rather than vulnerable.  His lack of range is a limiting factor here. Shraddha though, manages to perfect the rich girl act with aplomb and even manages to get empathy on her side.

Mohit Suri sets up sequences akin to those in the 60’s and 70’s Bollywood film – like the birthday party scene where the impoverished Prince is introduced to the classy rich rival and there’s a song demand made on the heroine.

The jadedness of the set-up makes it quite an unpalatable watch. There’s one genuine moment in that sorry affair when the Prince suddenly finds himself surrounded by Bihari waiters seeking him out for a selfie with ‘royalty.’

There’s neither excitement nor entertainment in this narration. The camerawork is engaging and the background score, quite lilting – yet there’s nothing much to hold on to here. Chetan Bhagat and Mohit Suri should have realized that half-measures never pay-off!