She is chic. He is not.
She is polished. He is rough round the edges.
She knows her English. And boy! She knows her spellings… And she knows that he does not know the spelling.
But both share one common all-consuming sentiment: their daughter should have the best education possible – and that translates to getting her admission in a private English medium school.
Looking at that as the necessary springboard for success for her daughter, the mother (Saba Qamar) launches into a downward spiral of ‘what-ifs’ should the daughter not get into the desired school! That’s enough to convince the husband to do anything! And that itself is a story. Whether it is hiring an expensive, chip-on-the-shoulder consultant, who advises on everything from admission procedures to dressing ‘rich’, to managing the ‘poor’ charade – even working in a factory to get the right roughness of the hands, these parents will stop at nothing.
Does it bear fruit? I’ll not reveal the spoiler!
The dialogues reveal some home truths – English-speaking skills are equivalent to a social class. Admission to an elite (not eelight, mind you) school is tantamount to badge value and having children in a top-end school makes the parents walk an inch taller. Then there is this divide between the culturally rich and the nouveau riche and of course there’s the poor! Poor for generations – khandaani gareeb!
The characters are real. The dialogues quite credible. But the principal of the school stands neither here nor there. For a woman who is supposed to be firm, determined and clearly intimidating, she seems to have no substantial standpoint. And that’s what gets the film, in my opinion, tumbling down like a house of cards at the end
Of course, the cast is stellar. One would think no one can match Irrfan Khan in his acting skills but Deepak Dobriyal puts in a convincing performance as the ‘khandaani gareeb’ and rubs shoulders with Irrfan Khan as pretty much an equal. Saba Qamar is a refreshing face to see and Amrita Singh is a good enough principal – and once again, I wish her character was better thought through.
But what a refreshing topic to cover! All the angst of school admissions – with consultants, classes and catty mothers thrown in. And yet… somewhere it gets wishy-washy without a statement to make. This is decidedly a wicked problem. Most vernacular medium children get sidestepped in the final game of higher education, college and finally jobs and promotion. That leaves them where they started with a step backward for their own children.
Get them in to a ‘fancy schmancy’ school and they are unlikely to adjust with the children of clearly a different social milieu, leaving them feeling marginalized and inferior. Back to square one?
While the film covers it in a lighthearted manner, it leaves the problem hastily solved! I think it would have been better not solved at all.
It is surely a one-time watch – more importantly we must think of the solution to this many, many times.
Er, what medium school are you from, by the way?