The idea of love has become quite complicated in today’s times. It is fairly common to come across couples who are not officially in a relationship but behave like they are in one. Is some cases, this happens when the couple realizes that though they are attracted to each other, they shouldn’t go ahead since there’s no future to their bond. Half Girlfriend throws one light on one such couple and what they go through over the years. Based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel of the same name, the film is not a page-by-page adaptation which is understandable. However, what comes across on screen is unconvincing and too quick at places to make an impact.
The story of the movie: Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) is from Simrao, Bihar who gets admission in the prestigious St Steven’s College in Delhi under sports quota. There he meets Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor) who comes from a rich family. Both are basketball players and that helps them get introduced and later bond with each other. Madhav falls for Riya the moment he sees her and naturally wants Riya to be his girlfriend. Riya realizes it’s not possible although she’s attracted to him. She then finds a unique solution – she proposes that she can be Madhav’s half girlfriend.
Half Girlfriend starts off very well at a crucial point. The flashback portions also commence nicely and there are no complaints as such in the first 30-40 minutes. One wonderful addition to the plot is the protagonists sneaking into India Gate, taking the stairwell that leads all the way to the dome. The other changes however are not as exciting. One significant track in the film is that of Madhav’s school, run by his mother (Seema Biswas). The manner in which Madhav easily manages to convince Bill Gates Foundation team to the get Gates himself to his school is too hard to digest. Moreover, the Bill Gates sequence makes almost no impact as his face is morphed and it’s badly done, unlike M S Dhoni – The Untold Story. After a point, one realizes that even the chemistry between the lead pair is thanda. Madhav seems to be crazily in love but the same can’t be said about Riya. But apparently we are made to believe that she is. However, it doesn’t come across well on screen. The New York episode thankfully has its moments and the film ends on a nice note.
Talking of performances, Arjun Kapoor seems a bit awkward at places in the sense that he doesn’t really look like a true blue Bihari. But overall, he does a fine job. He has worked hard on his Bihari accent and he shines in the emotional scenes. Shraddha Kapoor delivers a fine performance. She too gives everything but sadly, due to faulty writing, her character doesn’t make the desired impact. She performs very well in the singing scenes though. Also, both actors deserve kudos as they really look like authentic basketball players. Vikrant Massey (Shailesh) is an actor to watch out for. He gets to essay a great character and he ensures he leaves a deep mark! Seema Biswas (Madhav’s mother) is decent. Rhea Chakraborty (Anshika) looks stunning and makes an impact despite having limited screen time. It is great to see her on screen after hiatus and hope she gets more and better roles! Others are fine.
Music is melodious though some songs sound too similar. Surprisingly, it’s not Phir Bhi Tumko Chaahunga but Stay A Little Longer that emerges as the best track in the film. Baarish is also well composed and presented. Raju Singh’s background score gels well with the narrative. Priya Suhass’ sets are bit unrealistic. Whether it’s the boy’s hostel or the derelict school in Simrao, everything looks slightly appealing which shouldn’t be the case. Ishita Moitra Udhwani’s dialogues are simple, don’t go overboard and yet impress. Chetan Bhagat’s story is great without doubt. But Tushar Hiranandani’s screenplay leaves a lot to be desired. In the process of writing a script and perhaps even shortening the duration, Tushar makes a mess at places. Mohit Suri’s direction too doesn’t do much to repair the mess. Few scenes are exceptionally directed but that’s not enough.
On the whole, Half Girlfriend the film is nowhere close to the novel. Few situations are modified and shortened, which is understandable since it’s a film. But in the process, the impact gets diluted and also affects the principle love story. In fact, the romance between the lead pair is quite thanda. What works are the performances, few touching moments and the finale. While the book makes full impact, the movie makes only HALF the impact!
My rating – ** ½ out of 5!