HALF GIRLFRIEND

Balaji Motion Pictures Ltd., Mohit Suri and Chetan Bhagat Entertain ment Pvt. Ltd.’s Half Girlfriend (UA) is the love story of a young boy and a young girl, who belong to different strata of society.
Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) is complexed because he can’t speak correct English. His widowed mother (Seema Biswas) runs a school in a small town near Patna. Madhav is keen to do a lot for educating the children of his town and he, therefore, seeks admission in a coveted English school in the city. Despite his weak English, he gets admission on the strength of his performance in sports. In college, he meets Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor) with whom he in stantly falls in love.
Riya speaks fluent English but this is only one big difference between Madhav and her. She is also very rich whereas Madhav is not rich. Yet, their love for sports draws them close to one another. Even Riya likes Madhav, mainly for his simplicity.
Madhav’s friends in the college hostel keep admiring his luck for hav ing such a rich girlfriend but his room mate, Sailesh (Vikrant Massey), warns him about the class differences bet ween the two of them. Why, Riya her self has told Madhav that she would be his half girlfriend – more than a friend but less than a girlfriend. But Madhav is too smitten by her to con sider this as a deterrent. Then, one day, Sailesh tells Madhav to decide for himself whether this relationship would go any further, by inviting Riya to his room. Riya, broadminded as she is, sees no harm in spending some time alone, behind closed doors, in Madhav’s hostel room but she defini tely doesn’t like the advances he makes towards her in his room. That spells the end of Madhav’s relationship with Riya who walks out, comp letely dejected. Madhav tries to apologise but Riya is in no mood to forgive him.
Soon thereafter, Riya drops out of college because her marriage is fixed with an equally rich NRI boy, Rohan (Vikas Mandalya). Ready to forget the unfortunate incident between her and Madhav, Riya even invites him for her wedding.
Riya gets married and settles down in Paris. Two years pass. Madhav, now in his home town with his mother, is busy with his school.
Quite by chance, Madhav meets Riya after two years in Patna where he has come to seek a grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his school. How is Riya in Patna instead of being in Paris?
Madhav and Riya start meeting again and their friendship grows. For Madhav, her return means the return of his lady love. But Madhav’s mother sees red in the relationship that’s re-developing. What happens thereafter? Does Riya return to Paris? Or does she grow closer to Madhav? Does Madhav get grant for his school? Why does Madhav go to the USA? What happens in the USA?
The film is based on author Chetan Bhagat’s novel of the same name. The story is interesting and engaging. It may not be novel because there have been innumerable love stories about mismatched persons but there are novel turns and twists in this story, and they keep the audience hooked. Tushar Hiranandani’s screenplay is engrossing as there’s a lot happening in the drama. The first half is entertaining and quite light-hearted. There is a dash of emotions too in the pre-interval portion when Madhav justifies why he had touched the feet of Riya’s mother only. The second half has a lot of drama and melodrama, almost equally engaging and engrossing. Yes, it appears a bit stretched but that’s a minor aberration. A couple of twists and turns in the screenplay do remind of a recently released love story (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) but then, one realises that the similarity is not for real. Ishita Moitra Udhwani’s dialogues are appreciable.
Arjun Kapoor plays Madhav Jha with a lot of feeling and makes the audience fall in love with his simplicity and straightforwardness. It is this simplicity and integrity which he brings to the fore to moisten people’s eyes in the scene in which he explains why he had touched the feet of Riya’s mot her. He shows marked improvement in his dialogue delivery and body lan guage. Shraddha Kapoor acts with a lot of feeling and gives her cent per cent to Riya’s character. If she is effective in light, dramatic and serious scenes, she is also excellent in emo tional ones. She gets plenty of scope to showcase her talent and she does so with a lot of conviction. She looks pretty. Vikrant Massey is lovely as Madhav’s best friend, Sailesh. His Hindi diction is commendable. Seema Biswas puts in a dignified performan ce as Madhav’s no-nonsense mother. Rhea Chakraborty makes her pres ence amply felt in the role of Anshika. Sushant Sharma (as Ashu) and Akash Makhija (as Raman) are good. Dalip Sondhi (in the role of Riya’s father) and Sujata Saigal (as Riya’s mother) lend adequate support. Vikas Mandalya is alright as Rohan. Anisa Butt has her moments in the role of Rutvi. Kalol Banerjee, Bugs Bhargava and Deepak Kriplani (as the three professors who interview Madhav) are appropriate. Jiten Lalwani (as the coach), Mehar Daar (as Rohan’s mot her), Pravin Sisodiya (as MLA Ojha) and Paula McGlynn (as Samantha Brown) do what is required of them.
Mohit Suri’s direction is very good. He adopts an easy style of narration but shows his sensitivity in several scenes. To his credit, it must be said that he has extracted very good work from out of his key actors and has not let the drama lose its grip on the view ers. His song picturisations are exem plary; the songs almost always further the drama. Music is very good. ‘Main phir bhi tum ko chahoonga’ (compo sed by Mithoon) and ‘Baarish’ (by Tanishk Bagchi) are already hit songs and they gladden the heart when they come on screen. Other songs (by Rishi Rich, Farhan Saeed, Ami Mishra and Rahul Mishra) are also appealing. Lyrics (Manoj Muntashir, Kumaar, Kunaal Verma, Arafat Mehmood, Tanishk Bagchi, Laado Suwalka, R. Rekhi, Anushka Shahaney, Veronica Mehta, Yash Anand, Yash Narvekar and Ishita Moitra Udhwani) are weighty and meaningful. Song picturisations (by Raju Khan; ‘Mere dil mein’ is by Tushar Kalia) are eye-filling. Raju Singh’s background music is in synch with the drama. Vishnu Rao’s cinema tography is lovely. Javed-Aejaz’s action scenes are decent. Priya Suhas’ pro duction designing is of a good stand ard. Devendra Murdeshwar’s editing is neat and suitably sharp.
On the whole, Half Girlfriend is an entertaining commercial fare which will keep its audience and its investors happy.
Released on 19-5-’17 at Regal (daily 2 shows), New Excelsior Mukta A2 (daily 4 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by NHStudioz thru August Entertainment. Publicity: very good. Opening: good. …….Also released all over. Opening was good in multiplexes and so-so in single-screen cinemas.

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