It might be a little late to discuss the message in this movie but why not?
Recently, my internship heads and I were having a healthy discussion about a new tech start up that is going to introduce robots in high private schools, using artificial intelligent and machine learning technology. While trying to analyze if it’s going to be successful or not, I said that our education system is an already well running ‘business’ and schools are less likely to spend huge sums of money to buy high tech gadgets. At this, one of my heads laughed and said he agreed.
This was before I watched Hindi Medium and I found my idea quite right once I was done with the movie. Coming from Bollywood where most movies now revolve around pointless romance, here is a movie that highlights a few shallow truths about our society, all mixed with a tinge of humor. Without doubt, today, our education system is more of a business than a teaching methodology. There lies a dark truth behind the fancy admission prospectuses and formal selection interviews.
The story line revolves around Mita and Raj, a couple from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk grappling for their daughter’s admission into an English medium upper-class school. Just like almost every parent, Mita and Raj too had big dreams for their daughter and they are obviously not the only ones who go through this struggle.
Although the movie is set in India, the lesson it teaches implies to Pakistan as well. Of course, the credit also goes to Saba Qamar’s and Irrfan Khan’s mind boggling performances. We as a nation have become status conscious people, running behind branded handbags, foreign tours, fancy cars or swish parties. Our happiness revolves around proving our “status” to those around us instead of personal inner satisfaction. We spend our days focusing on how we present ourselves to others.“Showing off” is real and we all know it. This is exactly what happens in Hindi Medium, reflecting a shallow face of our society and teaching us all a crucial lesson.In the movie, sadly, a family wastes a lot of time and almost forgets its own worth during the struggle of trying to fit in a hi-fi society and mingle with people they actually had zero match with.
Another issue that the movie highlights is how we have allowed English language to influence us greatly. “English is class” the movie says, and I can’t help but say that it is true and we have all experienced it. Even I, as a student have noticed the difference in treatment you receive when you call someone or visit an office and talk in English instead of Urdu. You want to impress someone in the first meeting? Start the conversation with fluent English and your job is almost done. Similarly, in the movie, Raj and Mita, the hoi polli of Delhi are trying to fit in amongst the elitist snobs of the city and the most essential element of this whole process of fitting in is “angrezifying” their whole lifestyle.
I have people around me who literally use thesauruses for their daily English Facebook statuses, trying to present themselves as “cool” linguistics professionalsor I don’t even know what. It reminded me of the time when a school circulated a notice asking parents to restrict their children from using Punjabi language. The circular might have been a mistake of wordplay but it aptly represents how well we embrace our culture, especially when it comes to languages.
We consider the English speaking individuals intellectual while those who conserve in Urdu or have poor English are often looked down upon and considered lowbrow. I’m using the word we because I am guilty of this too. It’s not like I have never made fun of people pronouncing words wrong. We all make fun of Meera Jee, no?