Good intentions, sweetness, motivations, celebration of the divine Indian guru shishya equation, HICHKI starring Rani Mukerji leaves no heartstrings untouched in this magically inspirational, emotional and essential piece of cinema. An adaptation of the Hollywood television film – FRONT OF CLASS based on the true story of Brad Cohen from the book ‘Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had” written by Brad Cohen and Lisa Wysock. HICHKI is an unusual story in the underdog glory arena that is a must for every student, teacher and human.
The official adaptation of Hollywood’s FRONT OF CLASS is rewritten for big screen by Sidharth P Malhotra, Ankur Chaudhry, Ambar Hadap and Ganesh Pandit. The plot idea is novel and it distinguishes itself from other underdog motivator stories seen on bollywood marquee.
Though the general cliché and predictability of the genre is there, Rani Mukerji’s flawless act as the Tourette Syndrome-afflicted teacher rules and overcomes the cliché flaws in the story of Naina Mathur (Rani Mukerji) an aspiring teacher suffering from Tourette Syndrome. Naina who as a child developed the desire to be a teacher due to a life changing experience with the principal of her school played by veteran Vikram Gokhale, after several rejections gets a job as a teacher in St. Notker elite convent school (Interestingly, the school is named after the Saint who many centuries ago, rose above his speech impairment thanks to the power of his intellect).
Thanks to the right of education, Naina is assigned a class 9F that clearly puts forward the class divide. 9F is a class of 14 slum-dwelling students who reside on the other side of the track and previously went to a municipality school which is now taken over by the elite English school. A simile between Naina and her students is established, they both in a way share a common platform, while Naina’s limitations are physical, the hurdles these 14 teenage students – five girls and nine boys face are socio economical. How Naina transforms these rejected, unwanted and hopeless souls into an adage of hope by making them realize their potential and take up the challenges to bag the school’s prestigious ‘perfect’ student badge forms the crux of the story that is layered with hope, triumph, joy, redemption, sacrifice, hate and class divide as it takes its pride in being overwhelmingly emotional and teary eyed in its respect to teachers which is distinctly rare nowadays.
Writer director Sidharth P Malhotra ups his ante considerably after WE ARE FAMILY and not just delivers a feel good movie of a person suffering from Tourette Syndrome, in fact the defect is just a device to spread its voice on the education system, the respect teachers have nowadays and pride and prejudice of being someone from the ‘affordable’ and the ‘under privilege’ class.
However, HICHKI will notice hiccups from a section who will find the methodology of gaining knowledge outside the syllabus giving them a déjà vu of 3 IDIOTS and a teacher finding the right potential in a child to be a reverse of TAARE ZAMEEN PAR where the teacher is suffering from an unknown disability. Further, HICHKI will be debated for its share of resemblance in shaping the underprivileged children which is similar to the acclaimed 2002 Marathi film DAHAVI FA (Class 10F), that starred Atul Kulkarni.
HICHKI is laced with feel good moments and keeps you engaged throughout. You laugh, cry, feel ecstatic with Naina and her students. The impact is emotionally powerful. The dhruv tara (brightest star) incident during the end is just one example.
Acting wise, HICHKI is arguably Rani Mukerji’s best. Her mannerisms, clever timings and effortless charm rules through the entire duration. If a debate on Rani’s best gets triggered between BLACK and HICHKI, it won’t be a surprise. Rani is ‘perfect’ over here.
Neeraj Kabi as the teacher of the posh 9A is brilliant. Sachin Pilgaonkar and Supriya Pilgaonkar as Rani’s parents are fine. Other supporting actors chip in with valuable support where Shivkumar Subramaniam as the principal is very good, Asif Basra is wonderful. Hussain Dalal adds good support. The kids are superb where Harsh Mayar as Aatish excels.
Technicalities are fantastic with first rate production values, casting director Shanno Sharma deserves special mention especially for casting the students.
In spite of having all the hiccups of predictability of its genre, HICHKI still is an unusual story of triumph that motivates and instigates the will to fight against your shortcomings and excel. It’s a story of how a teacher can change your life, it’s a story that how life is the biggest teacher and what it makes to be the best teacher and a best student. HICHKI is a must for every student, every teacher and every human.