Reader Rating (Rate Here): [Total: 3 Average: 3.3/5]
Directed By: Sidharth P Malhotra
Cast: Rani Mukerji, Neeraj Kabi, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Hussain Dalal, Harsh Mayar, Supriya Pilgaonkar
Hichki (meaning hiccup) is a story of a teacher’s struggle as she helps a bunch of students realize their true potential. Hichki is an adaptation of the film Front of the Class, which itself is an adaptation of the book Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had by Brad Cohen. It marks the comeback of Rani Mukerji after a hiatus of 4 years and she is as talented as ever.
Naina Mathur (Rani Mukerji) suffers from Tourette syndrome since childhood, which is a neurological condition which causes her to make involuntary sounds/noises and tics which come across as weird and irritating to those around her. There are flashbacks from Naina’s life which explain that Tourette has been her constant companion and that she has been ridiculed at all times and more importantly why she wants to pursue teaching as a profession. After numerous failed attempts (she gets rejected on account of Tourette), she finally lands her dream job in a prestigious school. But she is selected to teach a special group of students belonging to the nearby slum, who attend the school as per the Right to Education act. The group consists of a motley group of kids- car mechanic, cycle mechanic, gambler, rapper etc- all having poverty as common background. They are unruly and make her life a living hell. Other teachers and students don’t care about them and see them only as a waste of time.
Hichki consists of two parts or rather two themes and like a hiccup the entire movie oscillates between them- neither here nor there. One part chronicles Naina’s struggles with Tourette Syndrome. Because of this handicap nobody believes in her and pities her, including her father (Sachin Pilgaonkar). Her aim is to become a teacher, the reason being that she could contribute to the world, things which were denied to her. Through her Tourette syndrome she witnessed the lack of empathy in her teachers and also the impact one teacher’s taking a kind and helpful stand had on her. Naina believes that she could also make a similar difference. Hichki is good and entertaining and more importantly moving when the movie is carried by Naina.
The second theme is a class struggle between the slum dwellers and the privileged. The biased teachers giving opportunities according to social strata and not giving a chance or even making any effort to teach these kids. The kids’s angst to be counted as equals and being denied a level playing field to showcase their talents is real and moving but the movie looses the plot here as there is too much drama. One after the other tropes are used which are predictable and unnecessary. This was missing in Front of the class and this is the main reason I prefer the original more. It was simpler and to the point and showcased only Brad Cohen’s struggle and determination to overcome Tourette and become a teacher.
The casting is good: Rani Mukerji is ably opposed by Neeraj Kabi as a fellow senior teacher Wadiya. Neeraj Kabi is a wonderful actor and is steadily growing after his negative role in Detective Byomkesh Bakshi. I like his role here but again it meets a predictable end just like many student- teacher movies before where the teacher takes the blame for the students’ mistakes like Dead Poets Society, Mohabbatein. Harsh Mayar of I am Kalam fame has done a tremendous job as a bully revolting against Naina and testing her patience.
Hichki has many individual scenes which could move you but as a whole I felt Rani Mukerji was let down by the story line which tried to do too much when it wasn’t required. Watch it because Rani is brilliant as the ebullient and ever optimistic Naina.