The last Irrfan movie to come out was Karwaan. I loved the film. I watched it three times in the cinema. I watched it further on Prime Video. I felt he was at his best in that film. Sadly, things took an ugly turn for his health personally. But being an Irrfan fan, who I think is the finest and most effortless actor, I was very keen on watching Angrezi Medium on the big screen. I had been preparing for it for a long time. The film was supposed to release on Friday, 13th March 2020. On Thursday, 12th March 2020, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a ban on gatherings including multiplexes and cinema halls, and there was no option. This turned to lockdown, which prolonged so much that the producers released the film on Hotstar, where I bought the subscription the day the film came.
I had written the above paragraph as an introduction to my review. I did not know about the upcoming future, and the regret of not having seen him on the screen for the last time will remain. A small phone is not enough to do justice to his personality. I hope this, and many other films, find a big-screen release.
Coming to the film, it is not related to Hindi Medium. It is a franchise that is of unrelated stories. Hindi Medium was a surprise hit. The two of the cast – Irrfan and Deepak Dobriyal have been retained. In fact, the writer-director Homi Adajania said that the film wouldn’t have been made without Irrfan. And we can see why.
Angrezi Medium is a story of a father and a daughter, a love story that comes full circle by the end of the film. Champak Bansal, (widower) (Irrfan) and Gopi Bansal (Deepak Dobriyal) are two brothers fighting ugly for the ‘Ghasiteram Sweets’ – a family tradition. Outside of it, they are a united family. Champak Bansal’s daughter Tarika Bansal (Radhika Madan) wants to study in London. Champak doesn’t want his daughter to go away but he concedes. When her scholarship is canceled due to a mistake of Champak; Champak, Gopi, and their cousin Gajju (Kiku Sharda) do everything in their powers to get Tarika’s admission in the London’s Truford University.
The film is a joyride, though run by pure emotions. It isn’t a realistic cinema we expect from Irrfan or Deepak Dobriyal. It is from the world of Hindi Medium, but even madder. Yet, the true emotions lend this story credibility. The story deals with issues without being preachy. Alright, it did get preachy at a couple of moments, but the actors did not make it appear so.
Irrfan is fantastic. Now, I can appreciate the film, even more, knowing what he must have been going through while shooting the film. He doesn’t look like someone who has just recovered from cancer and is going to succumb to other health issues. He looks like Champak. Deepak Dobriyal practically nails every expression. He overtakes Irrfan in a few scenes. Irrfan trusts more on his timing, lesser dialog (as per character), and those wonderfully expressive eyes. Deepak, though, turns the character into a realistic caricature and just goes through with it without missing a beat. The scenes with Irrfan and Deepak are probably the best (sorry Radhika). Add Kiku Sharda to the mix, and you are in for humor beyond imagination. Radhika Madan is extraordinary, and her moments with Irrfan, especially in the second half, are an emotional roller-coaster ride. She is a breath of fresh air, one to look out for, in the present and future.
The supporting cast is one of the best. This film offers us one of the best ensemble casts in the history of films. Kareena Kapoor Khan is in an extended cameo and is surprisingly effective. There are times when she simply kills it, no other words to describe it, especially with the kick-ass attitude. Ranvir Shorey is a mess and a beautiful mess at that. Here’s one actor who has always over-delivered, within his boundaries. Dimple Kapadia is charming, although I keep wishing she gets more than just a lonely old woman (been going on from Dil Chahta Hai). Tillotoma Shome surprises every single time she is on screen. Meghna Malik and Zakir Hussain are apt. Not to forget, the man, Pankaj Tripathi. He gets one scene, a 5-minute scene I guess. And he barely needs a few seconds to make an impact.
Music of the film is beautiful, without ever going overboard. Laadki is magical. Rekha Bharadwaj’s version, used in song video, is out of the world. Lyrics by Priya Saraiya are magical. They go like this:
“Dori yeh khinchi dori
Palne ki tune mori
Mere sapno ko jhulaya sari raat
Bhale bagiya teri chhodi
Bhale nindiyan teri chori
Bass itti si yaad tu rakhiyo meri baat
Teri laadki main
Teri laadki main
Teri laadki main chhodungi na tera haath.”
The music by Sachin-Jigar (and also their vocals) is just apt. The other collaboration of Sachin-Jigar and Priya Saraiya comes in ‘Kudi du nachne de’, a song of women empowerment, which had Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt, Janhvi Kapoor, Ananya Pandey, Kriti Sanon, and Kiara Advani, dancing without any disdain, is a YouTube loop-worthy song. Vishal Dadlani kills this peppy number with an attitude only he could conjure. ‘Ek Zindagi’ is a beautiful background song (lyrics by Jigar), and ‘Nachan Nu Jee Karda’ is a surprisingly good song written and composed by Tanishk Bagchi (around the same time as Masakali 2.0), sung by Romy and Nikita Gandhi.
The film’s cinematography and editing are apt. That is the best compliment one can ever give to these skills. You only talk about them when they go wrong. They didn’t. Writing is quirky, between caricature-ish and realism, and direction is apt most of the time. The film is carried by the cast, and sadly, it will be remembered for being Irrfan’s last film, although it showed that he was in a rhythm where he could have contributed so much more to the world of films.