Hiccup for a change
‘Hichki’ – Synopsis
After several interviews and numerous rejections, a woman who has Tourette’s syndrome lands a job as a teacher at an elite school. She soon tries to do whatever she can to make her rebellious and troublemaking students realize their full potential.
Based on: ‘Front of the Class’ – Brad Cohen – from Amazon India | UK | USA
Native and/or alternative titles: हिचकी
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Director: Siddharth Malhotra
Writer: Ankur Chaudhry
Cast: Rani Mukerji, Neeraj Kabi, Shivkumar Subramaniam, Supriya Pilagaonkar, Sachin Pilagaonkar, Hussain Dalal. Harsh Mayar, Sparsh Khanchandani, Benjamin Yangal, Kalaivanan Kannan, Rohit Suresh Saraf, Vikram Gokhale, Asif Basra, Suprio Bose
‘Hichki’ – Review
I have always enjoyed Rani Mukherjee’s acting because of her authentic and realistic acting. This is also one of the main reasons I wanted to watch this movie. Even though because of a heap of assignments and mid-term submissions I couldn’t catch the movie on the big screen, I recently enjoyed it during the television premiere. Even though I loved the concept, the acting and the message… I do have some mixed reviews about it.
The crux of the story
The movie is about a woman who dreams of becoming a teacher and has all the qualifications and qualities for the job but has been turned down 18 times over the past 5 years because she suffers from Tourette’s syndrome due to which she has some uncontrollable tics due to which she makes certain sounds and hand gestures. She finally gets her dream job at her old school she used to attend but only because the school has a class of ‘misfits’ whom no other teacher has been able to control. Thus, she begins her journey as a teacher and along the way helps bring a change of heart amongst her students and colleagues from labelling and categorizing to accepting and including them.
Personally, even though the main emphasis of the movie in on Tourette syndrome, I feel that they did not talk about or bring much awareness about the disease itself. I feel that the movie dived into too many causes and couldn’t do justice to any one of the issues. Therefore, if you do not know what Tourette’s is or are interested in getting to know more about it then you can check out this.
Here is another video of kids with Tourette’s talking about the disease and their experience with it. I found this really inspirational and touching. But a warning, after 6.30 minutes or so of the video, it is blank for the remainder of it. Don’t know if it is a glitch or some other issue. But do watch this video:
Here is a video of Rani Mukherjee explaining Tourette’s as part of the film’s promotional activities which really shows the distressing situation regarding awareness about Tourette’s in India:
And finally, this is a speech by Brad Cohen based on whose life story/movie/book this movie, Hichki, is based on:
Likes and Dislikes
I really loved the acting of all the characters in the movie. Especially Rani Mukherjee as Naina Mathur was fabulous. She really embodied her character and did not overplay it. She was very natural and true to her character and she really executed the tics flawlessly. I feel that she is a very versatile actor and really does biopics really well. I fondly remember her role in the movie Black because of her (and Amitabh Bachchan’s) perfect acting.
On top of that, the kids in the movie were also brilliant. It didn’t seem like they were even acting, it all felt very real and was very touching. The other supporting actors were also spot-on in my opinion. Even though it was a minor role, Naina’s family members were also so good. I really enjoyed the chemistry between all of them.
Another thing that I liked about the film was that it focused on the social message and not on other commercial hullabaloo and what not. Even the drama was kept to very realistic levels, even though there were several moments where they could have increased the drama level. Also, the music and background score was quite beautiful and really matched the emotions of the scenes well and enhanced their impact.
However, I do have certain problems with the movie:
Overreach: I personally feel that the movie really overreached by taking on too many issues and not doing complete justice to any one of them. So for me, I was difficult to grasp exactly what this movie was trying to portray to which issue it wanted to tackle.
- Ideally, I would have preferred that it focused on the difficulties that Naina faced in overcoming the obstacles which came with Tourette’ The movie just shows brief flashes of Naina suffering in her childhood and facing mockery from not only her classmates but also her teachers. Finally, a brief scene shows how a Principal stood-up for Naina and changed her life. But, all this goes by too fast and I feel the message of Tourette Syndrome and its challenges is highly underplayed. Even the problems Naina faces with her own family, especially her father, is a mere side story so this movie, in a manner of speaking, fails in my eyes in spreading awareness about Tourette Syndrome and the challenges that come with Tourette’s faces. I have not actually seen the movie about Brad Cohen so I don’t know how different or similar the movie is from the original either. So I won’t comment on that.
- The second overreach was a depiction of the poor educational structure in India where there is a Right To Education Act which most of the people from the more disadvantaged section of society don’t have the means to pursue because they are too busy trying to earn a daily living. The movie shows the scenes where Naina goes to the slum area to meet the parents of her students and comes across the shady and low standard of living. However, it is a very vague glimpse of the conditions and seems to be shot form a more elitist point-of-view and with an outsider’s perspective which does not really help the rest of the people understand the real problems. I would have preferred if they would have shown an insider’s viewpoint about the problems with the broken education system in India and how they (the kids and parents) perceive it.
- The third issue this movie brings up is the problems with the educators and their behaviour or approach towards teaching itself. I felt that the movie tried to bring a more ‘3 Idiots’ sort of intervention to the film by focusing on more innovation and understanding based learning through self-experimentation and questioning rather than relying on the traditional methods of rote-leaning and endless problem solving without actually understanding the basic underlying principles. Here too the movie could only bring a bare minimum to the plate about the issue. Though I do give kudos for even bringing this flaw in our education system to light. Then there is the issue with the educators themselves who very easily box and label these kids and kick them to the curb without even trying to uncover their true potential. The movie managed to talk the most about this issue yet it wasn’t as impactful as it could have been.
Dialogue delivery: Even though the movie was lovely with an amazing message and great acting. I really felt that there were flaws in the dialogue delivery and screenplay. At points, it all just seemed too OOC (Out-of-Character) and I really wanted to skip over certain scenes. Even though the movie was quite well-paced thorough-out, it seemed to jump scenes and change was not a smooth transition.
And…the verdict is *drumroll*
Watch it! Definitely watch. I believe that movies with a social message MUST be seen by everybody and this is a really good one. Despite the flaws that I mentioned, which are really a food for thought than an actual criticism, the movie is really great for a one-time watch and it might even leave many of you reaching out for some tissues.
I strongly support that message in the movie that ‘there are no bad students, only bad teachers’ because students will learn what they are taught. They enter this world with practically a blank slate and it is the teachers who fill this slate with knowledge, wisdom, life skills, moral values and everything else. The definition of teachers here is not limited to the school-teachers in my vocabulary and parents or relatives also are some of the most important teachers.
But it is in a school where a student, no matter their background or circumstances gets to be treated with equity and learns how to live in a society. A school allows a student from unequal situations to have an equal start in a safe environment where they can experiment, follow their curiosity and question life and its aspects. If a school so easily gives up on a child then who will ever give that child an opportunity? I really do feel that a school and the teacher should never give up on any student, especially those who at least come to school when there are so many kids who don’t even bother coming. If the school even gives up on these students, then what will happen to the future of our country which rests on the shoulders of such youths.
Actually, the moment when the principal had decided to expel these ‘misfit’ students, I immediately remembered an incident from my school days. There was a boy in our class who was very mischievous, constantly irritated us and was even caught stealing our notes and other stuff a lot of times. Our class was entirely fed up with his shenanigans and we went to complain to the Principal to do something about this boy. I clearly remember that we emphasized on him getting counselling from the school counsellor and his parents being called to help out in the process. I for one, even then, was strongly against expelling him. But, our principal was a sort of strict authoritarian type of person and called in a deal with the parents that the school will pass him in the final exams (as it was end of the year and he was failing miserably) so that parents would ‘willingly’ withdraw their child to transfer him to another school. I don’t think there was any counselling involved and the parents weren’t aware enough or had the financial resources to spring for private counselling and silently, without any fight, took the offer.
Ever since that incident, I have always felt guilty about the incident. Even though I know I couldn’t have done anything and I wasn’t really to blame as we never asked for such an outcome in the first place. But my belief in the educational system actually broke after that point. I still think of that boy, my classmate; my friend, whose future might have been potentially ruined because the educational institution, which is supposed to nurture and look after the students, turned its back on him. I wonder how he turned out. With a little help and effort, he could be leading a normal life as any other upright citizen.
When I see young kids caught committing crimes or even adults who have gone down the wrong path I wonder if it was because the teachers and schools turned their backs on them. Who is to look after the kids who come from a background where their parents can’t give them enough attention or look after them properly? How many people could have been saved if someone was there on their side, fighting for them?
I don’t know if by some sheer chance if that classmate is reading this article but none-the-less I want to apologize to that friend for everything that happened and hope that he is living a good life.
This is why I feel that this movie is a really important step in addressing these problems because a strong education system is a foundation to a prosperous nation and people need to understand these facts.
I hope that this movie makes people think and question what goes on around you. If you have a child then I hope you teach him to be a good human being who is understanding and accepting along with being good in studies.
If you are a teacher then I hope that you realize how much power you yield over a child’s mind and shoulder the responsibilities which come with the power.
If you are neither of these then I hope that you try to look within yourself to simply introspect about whether you want to blindly chase after knowledge, power or money or aim to be a little bit better person every day and do your share to make this world a better place for everyone to live in?
If you read the entire article then I really want to thank you for keeping up with my incessant blabbering and unnecessary drama that I brought into a simple movie review and I really do hope that you watch this movie~
Do you think that a teacher with a speech impairment can become a teacher? Do you think kids from the slum can go from failures to toppers?