Yash Raj Films’ Hichki is about a young lady who wants to be a teacher despite suffering from Tourette Syndrome. It is based on the book, Front Of The Class, written by Brad Cohen and Lisa Wysocky.
Naina Mathur (Rani Mukerji) lives with her mother, Sudha (Supriya Pilgaonkar), and brother, Vinay (Hussain Dalal). Her father (Sachin Pilgaonkar) has left the family but occasionally calls on them. Since childhood, Naina has a neuropsychiatric disorder – Tourette Syndrome – which prompts her to stammer and to make weird sounds whenever she is nervous, confused or tense. Her father is embarrassed by her condition but her mother and brother have accepted her the way she is.
Naina wants to be a school teacher but faces rejection in every school she applies to. Every school thinks that her speech defect and her peculiar condition will not allow her to ably carry out her duties as a teacher. Then, one day, a school offers her a job because a teacher has left mid-term.
The school principal (Shiv Subrahmanyam) is willing to give Naina a chance because he has faith in her, but one teacher, Waida (Neeraj Kabi), is particularly skeptical. Naina is asked to teach a class of 14 students of Std. IX F. Nobody in the school thinks much about the 14 students because they are slum dwellers and rowdy and are least interested in studies. But Naina accepts the challenge and rises to the occasion. Her first difficult job is to make herself acceptable to the rowdy students. After that, she has to make them realise the importance of studying and being serious in life. Along the way, she asks the school management why a student of IX F can’t be a prefect because her 14 students resent their marginalisation. When the school authorities tell her that anybody can become a prefect if s/he scores well in the examinations, Naina works harder still on her students.
Does Naina succeed in her mission? What all does Naina do to educate the students of Std. IX F? Is the going smooth for her? Do the students obey her? Does the principal continue to support Naina or does he also lose faith in her, like Wadia teacher?
Anckur Chaudhry, Siddharth P. Malhotra, Ambar Hadap and Ganesh Pandit have penned an interesting story which is based on the aforementioned novel. Because one has never seen a film in which a character has Tourette Syndrome, the story becomes fresh and novel for the audience. The screenplay, penned by the four, with additional screenplay by Raaj Mehta, has wonderfully heartwarming moments and emotional scenes. No doubt, the screenplay is often predictable but it still appeals because the moments are wonderful. Scenes which stand out are: the one in which Naina takes the blame for her students’ wrong-doing upon herself, the scene in which Naina waits from 9 a.m. to 9.10 a.m. for her students to arrive, after which she is to hand over her resignation letter, the scene in which Naina makes the school authorities agree to select a prefect from Std. IX F if the student is deserving, the scene in which all the students, one by one, admit to having committed a major mistake, the scene in which the students reach out to Naina teacher to apologise, the examination paper leak sequence, the speech of Wadia teacher on the last day, the scene in which Naina’s father places the order on her behalf in the restaurant, the scene in which Naina is asked by the principal to leave and she can’t control her emotions, etc. All in all, the screenplay has such phenomenal moments and such heart-touching emotions that the audiences would often find tears rolling down their cheeks. Anckur Chaudhry’s dialogues are wonderful and appeal as much to the ears as to the heart!
Rani Mukerji delivers a memorable performance as the teacher with Tourette Syndrome. Her acting is supremely consistent despite the fact that it is not easy to stammer and make sounds with the same intensity and in the same style always. Indeed, this performance should win Rani Mukerji awards and appreciation galore! Neeraj Kabi shines as Wadia teacher who has no faith in Naina’s capabilities. His acting is phenomenal and he uses his body language and expressions very effectively to convey his emotions. Shiv Subrahmanyam leaves a fine mark as the school principal. Sachin Pilgaonkar is first-rate as Naina’s father. His acting is fantastic. Supriya Pilgaonkar does a lovely job as Naina’s mother. Hussain Dalal is endearing as Naina’s brother, Vinay. Asif Basra has his moments as the school peon. Vikram Gokhale leaves a mark as Khan teacher. Harsh Mayar is splendid as student Aatish. Riya Shukla (as Tara), Sparsh Khanchandani (as Oru), Poorti Jai Agarwal (as Tamanna) and Shagufta Shaikh (as Shagufta) lend tremendous support as the students of Std. IX F. Vikrant Soni (as Killam), Jayesh Kardak (as Pankaj), Benjamin Yangal (as rapper Ashwin), Kalaivanan Kannan (as Kalai), Swaraj Kumar (as gambler Ravinder) and Siddhesh Pardhi (as Omnish) are terrific as the male students of Std. IX F. Rohit Suresh Saraf (as Akshay of Std. IX A) and Jannat Zubair Rahmani (as Natasha of Std. IX A) leave their mark. Baby Naisha Khanna (as young Naina) and master Vir Bhanushali (as young Vinay) are cute. Teena Kumar, Kabeer Khan and Sahil Vitthal Chorge (as the other students of Std. IX F) are quite nice. Others provide good support.
Siddharth P. Malhotra has handled the subject with the sensitivity it deserves. His direction is very good. Jasleen Royal’s music is functional but a couple of hit songs could’ve made a big difference. Lyrics (by Jaideep Sahni, Raj Shekhar, Neeraj Rajawat and Aditya Sharma) are meaningful. Hitesh Sonik’s background music is very effective. Avinash Arun’s cinematography is lovely. Meenal Agarwal’s production designing is appropriate. Shweta Venkat Mathew’s editing is sharp.
On the whole, Hichki will have no hiccups at the box-office and will prove to be a hit.