Half Girlfriend movie review: Arjun, Shraddha’s film is confused, cliched and disappointing

Half Girlfriend, based on author Chetan Bhagat’s book by the same name, starring Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor, fails to rise to the film’s pre-release buzz. Here’s the movie review.
Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor on a poster of Half Girlfriend.
Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor on a poster of Half Girlfriend.
Updated on Jul 21, 2017 06:46 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Half Girlfriend
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor
Director: Mohit Suri
Rating: 2/5

Both big Bollywood releases this week, Hindi Medium and Half Girlfriend, have a common theme: How English is not just a language, but a matter of privilege.

While Hindi Medium director Saket Chaudhary deals with it in a humorous way, Mohit Suri gives the non-English speaking community the Chetan Bhagat brand of sympathy in Half Girlfriend. Not anger, but self pity.

Let me first introduce you to the film’s base: Bhagat’s best-selling novel of the same name.

Simrao, a village near Bihar’s capital Patna, has high hopes from Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor), their landlord of sorts. In the book, he is the scion of the now-fading ‘zamindaar’. Yes, I have read the book (one of my guilty pleasures in life).

Our guy is waiting to be called for the National Basketball team, and manages to secure admission in Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College. He meets and falls for Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor), a rich, but lonely girl. Somani agrees to become Jha’s half girlfriend—‘friend se thoda zyada, girlfriend se kaafi kam’—a term that they keep repeating throughout the film. It’s a complicated situation which can break the poor Jha boy for ever.

Mohit Suri knows how to throw melodious music to hook audiences and he does that to stretch a thin plot for almost two-and-a-half hours.

Suri isn’t the only one guilty here. Even if you ignore Shraddha Kapoor’s “rich people have severe domestic issues” expressions, you can’t do the same with Arjun Kapoor, who seems to be sleep-walking through the film.

Whenever he is not playing the ideal son or one-hell-of-a-dedicated-lover, he is either being scolded by his hostel mate Shailesh Pandey (Vikrant Massey) or is delivering lectures on Bihar’s rich past. He also loves his drinks, but that part is probably unintentional.

Oh yes, his love for Hindi is actually worth noticing. Maata-peeta, bhery, sentiyana, etc. form his lingo. Such university students are difficult to find.

Those who have read Half Girlfriend would remember that a dialogue from the book had made the social media go crazy: Deti hai toh de, warna kat le. It has been changed to ‘rehti hai toh reh, warna kat le’ in applause-worthy surprise.

Half Girlfriend is fast-paced but is not that good to make us miss the absurdities of the screenplay. Characters forget how they were talking in the previous scene.

There is an absolute lack of intensity between the lead actors and everything is so clichéd. India’s dominating, high society father to Bharat’s strong and silent mother, you have seen it all.

And then, there is an escapist Riya Somani whose logic sounds as funny as Jha’s Hindi. Brand placements and advertisements of ‘beti bachao, beti padhao’ make Half Girlfriend even more discreet.

In the end, it remains the story of a friend-zoned Arjun Kapoor who doesn’t know how to wriggle out of a destructive relationship. I can ignore his accent, but how can I not see his unwillingness to do justice to his role?

Half Girlfriend is confused, forced and takes the audience for granted. In one word: disappointing.

Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha


    Rohit Vats is a film journalist who loves to read in between the lines. He can spend hours watching films and cricket matches. Also a script consultant.

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