When a quintessential Bihari boy enters the esteemed St Stephens college in
Delhi, amongst many things like language and class differences, he battles with
a new-age issue.
A new, unexplored relationship status that he finds himself in the middle of.
So what is this 'Half Girlfriend'? A space somewhere in between?
Half-way there? Almost there, but not quite. Deep- but not deep enough... what
does Riya really mean when she states she's his 'half girlfriend'?! What is
this new relationship status?
'Half Girlfriend': A non-seasonal
Valentine's Day tearjerker (Film Review By Subhash K Jha ; Rating: *** 1/2)
You can accuse Chetan Bhagat's novels of being lots of things from
silly to shallow. But you can never fault themA for their entertainment
Director Mohit Suri known to make cinema on compulsive love ("Aashiqui
2", "Ek Adhuri Kahaani") takes the theme of self-annihilation in a
romantic association to the extreme, bringing out his hero, a Bihari
non-English medium type in Delhi who falls for a girl much higher than
her heels and his social status, as a love-struck wimp obsessed with
his object of adoration to the point of complete self-ruination.
This was how Chetan Bhagat meant his novel to be. The man-woman
equation was seen in the light of status and social standing and then
judged within the parameters of a heart-to-heart connection. Director
Suri amplifies the theme of love between unequals.The complications are
frail and far-fetched.
Rustic Bihari Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor, uninterrupted in his sincerity)
is not only incurably in love with socialite Riya Somani(Shradha
Kapoor, cool in her designer clothes), he will follow her to the end of
the world or to New York where she shows up in a most unconvincing
But I don't think Chetan Bhagat and Mohit Suri intended "Half
Girlfriend" to be a real and obtainable look at life and relationships.
In fact I am pretty sure their take on love is as distanced from
reality as Mohit Suri is from Anurag Kashyap.
"Half Girlfriend" moves in a head-in-the-clouds fog of satiny
sensations. It is fetchingly shot by cinematographer Vishnu Rao who
sees the romance through a filtered haze. Arjun maintains a gaze of
steadily fixed state of adoration on Shradha. The gaze occasionally
lusts over, but no damage done.
Arjun Kapoor helps give his character the aura of an urgent sense of
obsessive love that is needed. It's a capable performance underpinned
by a sense of unspoken anguish that takes the lover-hero through many
levels of change and acceptance.
Shradha shines when she has to express the tragic boredom of being
over-privileged. So unabashedly affluent is her character that the
backstory of a troubled childhood almost seems like an afterthought.
And when she takes off for New York you know her designer existence,
replete with tragic delusions of singing dying songs in a jazz bar of
NY, is complete.
The love story works because the two Kapoors play the adoring and the
adored with a hangdog heft and a haughty grandeur, respectively. The
rest of the cast gets swathed in a scriptural haze thatA they don't
deserve. I wanted to see more of Vikrant MasseyA and Seema Biswas
playing Madhav's best friend and mother. And I certainly wanted to see
more of the stunning Rhea Chakraborty who shows up at the end as
Madhav's blind date. It's the role of the woman who loses love even
before she finds it.
What I didn't want to see are all those strenuous attempts to build a
social conscience and toilets in rural India,into what is predominantly
a pop-romance. "Half Girlfriend" is a gorgeous-looking film with no
real relevance beyond its Valentinian boundaries, with plenty of
unspoken chemistry between the lead pair. It could have done with less
schmaltz and more raw passion, less cuteness and more real emotions.
But here is the thing. It delivers exactly the charming confection that
Chetan Bhagat's novel attempted to be.
Girlfriend': Performances save this half-baked mush (Review
By Troy Ribeiro; Rating:
from Chetan Bhagat's novel by the same name, director Mohit Suri's film
"Half Girlfriend" is a half-baked and clichéd romance pot-boiler that
does not raise the bar.
Narrated in a non-linear and formulaic manner, the only endearing point
in the film is the messages it passes on, ‘face your difficulties and
defeat your obstacles,' or in other words which simply translates to,
tenacity always triumphs.
Unfortunately, the film lacks depth and passion in terms of its
mounting. While the performances are noteworthy, it is the direction
and the script department that fails to impress. The plot seems
perfunctory and formulaic.
In this case, the tale pivots around Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) the
Prince of Simrao, Bihar. He goes to Delhi to study at St. Stephen's
College, an elite college, on a sports quota as he plays basketball.
The issue here is, he cannot speak a single sentence in flawless
English and finds it difficult to cultivate friends as apart from his
English, his speech is soaked with heavy Bihari lingo.
A telephonic conversation with his mother reminds him that to stay
anywhere, you need a reason and you need to find it yourself. Just then
Madhav by happenstance sees a beautiful girl, Riya Somani (Shraddha
Kapoor) playing basketball. This becomes his motive and raison d'etre
for staying back in Delhi. What further ignites his keenness to
befriend Riya is her faultless and fluent English.
How he woos her to the very end forms the crux of the tale.
While on the face of it, the scenes seem to be astutely crafted, it is
the lack of maturity in handling emotions that surface blatantly,
especially in the scene when Riya's parents are fighting in the
background and she sings the song, "Stay a little longer with me baby,
won't you stay a little longer."
Also, the characters are poorly etched making them one dimensional
objects which makes it difficult to relate to them. Also the dubbing is
an issue especially in the scenes between Madhav and his Bihari
There are some straight faced guffaws by Madhav that make the film
light and digestible.
The casting isn't perfect, yet, Arjun Kapoor is brilliant as the
slightly dim-witted, good hearted Bihari who speaks with an
inconsistent accent. Shraddha Kapoor as his lady love delivers an
equally spirited performance. But together their chemistry lacks
intensity. This is evident in the smooching scene and the scenes that
Apart from the duo, it is Vikrant Massey as Madhav's roommate and
well-wisher who makes his presence felt with a brilliant, razor-sharp
performance. Seema Biswas as Madhav's mother adds gravitas to her
character but, it is Rhea Chakraborty and Anisa Butt who enhance the
The songs in the film are hummable and the film, as expected, with
excellent production values is all gloss and fluff but low on substance.