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Hitchki  : Sensitive Without Hiccups
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Friday, March 23, 2018
Drama
Siddharth Malhotra
Rani Mukherji, Harsh Mayar, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Neeraj Kabi, Ivan Rodrigues, Sachin Pilgaonkar

It’s a first for sure. Writer-director Siddharth Malhotra introduces Tourette Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder, to Hindi cinema for the first time. He makes his point about a complex problem effectively by keeping his narrative simple.

 

Apart from sensitising the audience to a disease that few know about, he also sets it in a school where children from the other side of the track so to say, are treated differently from the privileged ones.So, along with Tourette Syndrome, he tackles the class divide as well. And merges the two with straightforward storytelling.

 

Being rejected as teacher for the 15th time is not a new experience for Naina Mathur who suffers from Tourette Syndrome and is inured to her condition right from her school days. With a father who was embarrassed by his daughter’s medical problem to classmates and teachers insensitive to the child, Naina has seen it all.

 

It is to Siddharth’s credit that he doesn’t let the story of Naina or her underprivileged students sink into depression. Naina takes it in her stride, she’s cheerful and has a brother and mother who treat her normally.

 

There’s a reference to Right To Education which is heartening when it’s implemented as students from a defunct municipal school have to be accommodated in the elite school of the area. But they’re bunched together in Class 9F, classified failures by the staff and handed to Naina who also doesn’t fit in with the rest.

 

There are no bad students, only bad teachers, says Naina, as she turns learning into a happy experience and prods each one’s latent talents to surface.

 

It’s tough when the rest of the school treats them like pariahs, especially Mr Wadia the snob who teaches the socially better off Class 9A.

 

The scenes of Naina as a little girl are moving and the victory of the underdog when prefect’s badges are given out is sensitively done.Forget some of the clichés, it climaxes with inclusiveness on the basketball field which is upbeat and feel-good. And it’s all wrapped up in under two hours.

 

Rani Mukerji is the queen of the show, drawing you into her world with a cheer, no tears. There’s fine support from Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar as her parents, Hussain Dalal as her brother, Asif Basra as the school peon and Neeraj Kabi as stiff Mr Wadia.

 

For a film that’s sensitive to social issues and celebrates the triumph over social awkwardness, Hichki gets a thumbs up with a 3* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author

 

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