Hichki is a nice, harmless film which doesn’t offend anyone in any way but it doesn’t really affect anyone in a major way either. Rani Mukerji makes a sparkling ‘comeback’ (just how many times has that word been used for her?) as Naina Mathur, the strong, calm and intelligent woman who suffers from the Tourette Syndrome. Naina has a lot of patience. She has the patience to deal with her absent father, patience with the school staff (especially Neeraj Kabi as the uptight Mr. Wadia) and patience to deal with the notorious students of 9 F. Termed as “municipality garbage”, these students are outcasts in the extremely preppy St Notker’s school. The film traces the conflicts between the kids of 9F, who come from a low socio-economic background and the kids of 9A and the perfect prefects, who come from extremely privileged backgrounds. Basically, the dynamics resemble the case of what would happen if students from Rajput College and Model College from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander were forced to study in the same building.
Naina, with her tics and the trauma that comes along with it, is the teacher we all wanted back in school. She takes the blame for the borderline dangerous pranks played by the ragtag group of students. She visits their homes to understand the kind of poverty they come from. She makes them study on open grounds with basketballs and eggs (not together thankfully). Her condition is used as a metaphor for the kids to not blame their circumstances for their failures and predictably and the underdogs (the students and their teacher) eventually win. Rani is a delight to watch after such a long gap and the screen lights up whenever she’s in the frame, which is most of the times. The children too are perfectly cast, with Riya Shukla and Harsh Mayar standing out in a talented ensemble. The screenplay by Ankur Chaudhry, Ambar Hadap and Ganesh Pandit is tight, till the last 15 minutes. After keeping the pace even for so long, they suddenly falter and make the climax rather preachy and boring. Sidharth P Malhotra has done a decent job as a director, but Hichki is too simplistic and one-note to be taken as seriously as maybe a Taare Zameen Par or Stanley Ka Dabba. But nonetheless, it’s an earnest film that definitely deserves a watch. If the success of this movie is detrimental to the number of movies Rani does, then it surely needs to be seen.