Hichki

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Hichki
Hichki poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySiddharth P. Malhotra
Screenplay by
  • Ankur Chaudhry
  • Siddharth P. Malhotra
  • Ganesh Pandit
  • Raaj Mehta
  • Ambar Hadap
Based onFront of the Class
by Brad Cohen
Produced by
StarringRani Mukerji
CinematographyAvinash Arun
Edited byShweta Venkat Matthew
Music bySongs:
Jasleen Royal
Score:
Hitesh Sonik
Production
company
Release date
  • 23 March 2018 (2018-03-23)
Running time
116 minutes[1]
CountryIndia
LanguageHindi
Budget200 million[2]
Box office2.2 billion[3]

Hichki (Hindi pronunciation: [ɦɪtʃʰkɪ]; transl.Hiccup) is a 2018 Indian Hindi-language comedy-drama film co-written and directed by Siddharth P. Malhotra. Based on the American motivational speaker Brad Cohen's 2005 autobiography Front of the Class, it revolves on Naina Mathur (Rani Mukerji), an aspiring teacher who was continuously rejected by many schools because of her Tourette syndrome until she is accepted at the St. Notker's School. She is assigned to teach students from a nearby slum in the class 9F, which was created by the Government of India to fill quota for the underprivileged.

Malhotra faced struggle to find a production house who wanted to produce Hichki, because the film—whose screenplay's writing started in 2013 after he acquiring the rights of Front of the Class—was felt to have not a potential to make itself emerged as a success at the box office. Aditya Chopra and Maneesh Sharma, with the latter's Yash Raj Films, later served as producers for the film. Principal photography was handled by Avinash Arun and took place in Mumbai between April and June 2017, with Meenal Agarwal as the art director and Vaibhavi Merchant provided the choreography. After the filming ended, the film was edited by Shweta Venkat Matthew. Jasleen Royal and Hitesh Sonik composed the soundtrack and background score, respectively.

Hichki was released on 23 March 2018. Made on a production cost of 200 million (US$2.8 million), the film went on to become a commercial success and had a total gross of 2.1 billion (US$29 million), most of the revenues came from China. It received mixed-to-positive critical reviews, with the praise mostly directed towards Mukerji's performance. She received nominations for Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards, International Indian Film Academy Awards, Screen Awards, and Zee Cine Awards as well as winning an award of the same category at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, where it was screened. The film was also shown at the International Film Festival of India, the Shanghai International Film Festival, and the Giffoni Film Festival.

Plot[edit]

Naina Mathur, a Bachelor of Education and Master of Science, wants to be teacher but always got rejected due to her Tourette syndrome which causes uncontrollable sounds likened to hiccups. Despite failing for five years, she is supported by her mother Sudha and her younger brother Vinay, while her father Prabhakar sees teaching would give her low payment and wants her to take a job in a bank. Naina eventually receives an offer at the St. Notker's School and is assigned to teach 9F. The school was desperate as all other teachers had failed to control the class, however, Naina finds the students are unruly, misbehaved, and visibly different. Shyamlal, the school's peon, discloses to her that the 9F students come from a nearby slum and were admitted to fill the government-prescribed quota for the underprivileged.

On the first day, Naina's students imitate and mock her. She decides to teach them interactively, determined to show resilience. The students prank her with liquid nitrogen which explodes, shattering the windows. Naina prevents a mass expulsion by saying that the prank required planning, and if that can be guided, the class has potential. Wadia, the teacher of 9A, dislikes 9F students. He tells her that his class comprises academically excellent prefects, but she asserts that her students will earn prefect badges as well. The school's annual Science Fair project is assigned to 9A. Meanwhile, Naina teaches her students to be brave in pursuing knowledge and to realise their individual strengths. Aatish, one of her students who remains indifferent, sabotages 9A's project. This is discovered by Wadia, and the principal decides to expel 9F. Again, Naina prevents it by promising that they will pass their exams, but is unable to prevent their suspension from attending school until then. Dejected, she tells them they have shattered her attempt to help them.

All of the 9F students study diligently. Shyamlal supplies Aatish copies of the wrong question paper that was previously given by Akshay, a 9A student, so they would fail. When he presents them to his classmates, they refuse and he gives up on the idea as well. After the exam days, they pass but are accused of cheating as Shyamlal confesses about the plan and the principal decides to expel them during the prefect-pinning ceremony. Akshay reveals to Wadia that it was his idea, and the latter subsequently realises that 9F did not cheat. When the ceremony occurs, Wadia announces that he wrongfully tried to fail the students and applauds Naina's teaching, asking her to pin the prefect badges to her students who ranked first. The film ends with Naina's last day at the school after serving for 25 years, retiring as the school principal.

Cast[edit]

Credits adapted from Bollywood Hungama:[4]

Production[edit]

The film marked Rani Mukerji's first film since the release of Mardaani (2014)

In 2013, Siddharth P. Malhotra acquired the rights of Brad Cohen's 2005 autobiography Front of the Class and started writing the screenplay along with Ambar Hadap and Ganesh Pandit, with Ankur Chaudhry and Raaj Mehta joining them later.[4][5] The film was titled Hichki, which Malhotra felt was a suitable word for describing prejudice and social stigma against Tourette disorder.[6] His second directorial venture after We Are Family (2010), Malhotra had several failed attempts to find a production house who wanted to produce it for over four years. According to him, they believed that the film lacked of commercial viability and told him, "Who would watch the story of a teacher suffering from Tourette syndrome?", asking him to choose another story. His wife, Sapna, later suggested Yash Raj Films to him although he was initially reluctant as he had faced many rejection. He met the company's owner Aditya Chopra to narrated the screenplay and the latter liked it. Chopra, however, was busy with his project Befikre (2016) and asked Maneesh Sharma, who would co-produced Hichki with him, to listen to the rest.[5]

While Malhotra conceiving the film as a male-centric film since he writing the screenplay, Sharma suggested to cast an actress as the lead.[5] Rani Mukerji was chosen later, marking her comeback to acting since Mardaani in 2014. She revealed that the she accepted the film because she found her role as Naina to be more difficult and challenging than those in her previous films.[7] Furthermore, Mukerji has said that it was Chopra who conceived her to portray the part as he saw Mukerji has become obsessive with their daughter, Adira, and that she has fans who are still waiting for her to comeback.[8] She waited until Adira was four months old before accepting the role.[9] In preparation, she interacted with Cohen (who was happy knowing that the film would address the subject of Tourette and the character is based on him) through the social media Skype, asking him for training to make her character's motor and vocal tics appear spontaneously and not rehearsed.[8][10] Shanoo Sharma completed the casting.[4]

Hichki was made on a budget of 200 million (US$2.8 million).[2] Principal photography started in Mumbai on 4 April 2017 and Avinash Arun worked as the cinematographer,[11][12] with Vaibhavi Merchant doing the choreography and Meenal Agarwal finishing the production design. Shilpa Makhija dan Varsha Chandanani designed the costumes.[4] Becoming the first on-screen project post her daughter's birth, Mukerji confessed that he was worried leaving Adira for the first time since the latter was born in 2015. Mukerji added, "... she had not spent even one day without me. Also, I was wondering whether I would be able to act or not as I was facing the camera after two years. I wondered if I still have it in me."[13] The shooting was done on 6 June 2017, and the film later edited by Shweta Venkat Matthew at Mehboob Studio.[14] Hitesh Sonik composed the background score, and Pritam Das served as the sound designer along with Ganesh Gangadharan.[4]

Soundtrack[edit]

Hichki
Soundtrack album by
Released19 February 2018
GenreFeature-film soundtrack
Length20:31
LanguageHindi
LabelYRF Music
Jasleen Royal chronology
Fukrey Returns
(2017)
Hichki
(2018)
Veere Di Wedding
(2018)

The soundtrack to Hichki was composed by Jasleen Royal and the lyrics were written by Raj Shekhar, Jaideep Sahni, Neeraj Rajawat, Aditya Sharma, and David Klyton.[15][16] Abhishek Kurme, Arijit Singh, Benny Dayal, David Klyton, Harshdeep Kaur, Jasleen Royal, Naina Kundu, Nigel Rajaratnam, Rhiya Jauhari, Shilpa Rao, Siddesh Jammi, and Yogesh Kurme performed the vocals. The album was released by Yash Raj Films' subsidiary YRF Music on 19 February 2018.[15]

The soundtrack album received a mixed reception. Devansh Sharma from Firstpost wrote that Royal has delivered a well performance by composing it with "due care and translates into seamless fun by the time it reaches the audience".[17] Debarati S. Sen of The Times of India concluded that the album is "a fun, light and breezy album, that sounds promising and is worth a hear".[18] In a review published by Scroll.in, Devarsi Ghosh felt that the album was mediocre, likening it with a hot mug of coffee with milk and sugar in it that is "never too bland or too out-there".[19] Joginder Tuteja of Bollywood Hungama was ambivalent of the album, with rating it two stars, and said that he expected Hichki to be a songless film.[20] The Indian Express' Suanshu Khurana believed many of its bits are repetitive.[21]

Hichki (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[15]
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Oye Hichki"Harshdeep Kaur2:34
2."Madamji Go Easy"Abhishek Kurme, Benny Dayal, David Klyton, Naina Kundu, Nigel Rajaratnam, Rhiya Jauhari Siddesh Jammi, Yogesh Kurme2:47
3."Khol De Par"Arijit Singh3:13
4."Teri Dastaan"Jasleen Royal3:43
5."Phir Kya Hai Gham"Shilpa Rao2:59
6."Soul of Hichki"Harshdeep Kaur2:00
7."Naina's Theme" (Instrumental) 3:15
Total length:20:31

Release and reception[edit]

Marketing and release[edit]

Hichki was one of the most anticipated films of 2018 as the film marked the acting comeback of Mukerji after four years.[22][23] She promoted it on televisions in five local languages: Bengali, Bhojpuri, Hindi, Marathi, and Punjabi. According to her, the film has inspired her by its moral message and relevancy, saying that she wanted more people in the country to hear it as well.[24] The trailer was released on 19 December 2017.[22] The first poster of the film was released by the critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh on his Twitter account on 27 December, with featuring 23 February 2018 as the release date, and Ritika Handoo from Zee News thought that Mukerji's pose on it was impressive.[25] However, another poster came out on 1 February 2018 and the release date was postponed to 23 March.[26] Sharma said that it was because Indian student exams were started around the first date.[27]

The promotion of Hichki started on 14 January 2018, during the celebration of Makar Sankranti.[28][29] Mukerji went to Ahmedabad to interact with school students and her fans, and later to eight other cities.[28] She also did promotion at several television shows' sets, including Bigg Boss 11,[30] Dance India Dance,[31] and Dadagiri Unlimited.[32] Mukerji continued it by interacting with the spiritual teacher Ravi Shankar at the inaugural session of the International Women's Conference.[33] She spoke of her experience, "It will be amazing to be part of this session and hear him speak. Hichki is all about harnessing your positivity and inner peace to bring out the best in you and I'm going to speak about this in his presence. I look forward to this interactive session."[34] In October, Mukerji visited five cities of China (Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai dan Shenzhen) to promote the film in the country.[35]

Hichki premiered on 23 March 2018 and promoted the tagline, "What is life without a few hiccups".[36] It was released on DVD in the NTSC widescreen format on 8 May,[37] and its television premiere happened on 26 May.[38] The film was also screened at the Shanghai International Film Festival on 15 June,[39] the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne on 11 August,[40] the International Film Festival of India in November,[41] and the Giffoni Film Festival in July 2019.[42] Malhotra told the Press Trust of India that the festive screenings was a honour for him as well as describing it as an opportunity to boost his film career.[43] The film was later released in the theatres of China on 12 October with the title of Teacher with Hiccup.[44] It was released in Taiwan as My Teacher with Hiccups on 2 November.[45] Hichki is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+.[46]

Critical response[edit]

The film was met with mixed-to-positive reviews from critics;[23] most of the praise is given to Mukerji, but they condemned the weakness on its plot.[47][48] It received a rating of 50 percent on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes based on twelve reviews, with an average rating of 5.4 out of 10.[46] The entertainment portal Bollywood Hungama said that Mukerji had delivered an effervescent performance and made Hichki a well film, believing she would make the audience empathised with her character and that the actress portrayed it zestfully.[49] In her two-and-a-half-star review, Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com panned the melodramatic screenplay, but appreciated Mukerji and described the film as an "out-and-out" show of her.[50] Mayank Shekhar, writing for a review for Mid-Day, was critical of the film's predictability and called it the desi version of the American coming-of-age drama Dead Poets Society (1989).[51] Filmfare's critic Devesh Sharma thought Mukerji's screen presence made her look as if she never took a sabbatical from full-time acting before, lauding her dramatic confrontational scenes with Neeraj Kabi in the film, and Bhawana Somaaya expressed approval of her for playing against type.[52][53]

Reviewing for The Times of India, Rachit Gupta said that she hoped the film not only set in a classroom and focuses on the character Naina's struggle but also on her personal life, especially her conflict with her father. She also commended the performances of Mukerji and the actors who played her students, particularly that from Harsh Mayar. Gupta ended his review by concluding that the film has plenty of freshness, insights, and emotional intelligence, and gave it three-and-a-half stars.[54] Rajeev Masand of CNN-News18 found Hichki to be inconsistent, unoriginal, and predictable, however, singled-out the film's moral message for praise.[55] In the words of NDTV's Saibal Chatterjee, "Rani Mukerji's energetic, engaging performance apart, Hichki is a huff-and-puff show marked by too much mush and fuss. But it has just enough to keep tearjerker junkies interested."[56] From the Hindustan Times, Rohit Vats rated the film two-and-a-half stars, complimenting Mukerji's straightforward, confident performance and saw that hers is supported by those of Kabi and the student actors. However, Vats was disappointed of the film because it only revolves on the relationship between a teacher and students.[57]

An Indo-Asian News Service critic opined that the film is full with dramatic yet inspiring scenes and took note of its simple writing.[58] Udita Jhunjhunwala of Scroll.in appreciated Malhotra for making its narrative focuses on Naina only without getting disturbed by any subplots,[59] and Samrudhi Ghosh of India Today observed of him, "[The] Hichki director had a tough task at hand—to stay away from emotional manipulation, even in the dramatic moments. He succeeds, for the most part; although some portions of the film, such as the climax, feel a little contrived."[60] Another review in CNN-News18, written by Kriti Tulsiani, commented that the film is a remake of Peter Werner's 2008 film Front of the Class, which was based on the same book as Hichki, and criticised it for the inability to provide an original story and undramatic ending.[61] In the Deccan Chronicle, Rohit Bhatnagar, who gave the film three out of five stars wrote that Mukerji drives the film with her effortless performance despite a predictable story; although the latter aspect make the film mediocre, he added that Hichki is as good as Malhotra's previous film We Are Family (2010).[62] From the Daily News and Analysis, Chaya Unnikrishnan termed to Hichki as an slice-of-life film that has inspiring themes and was impressed by Mukerji's ability to play her part brilliantly.[63]

Namrata Joshi of The Hindu called her the film's greatest performer, explaining that her tics are used in the right measure and time, but noted the actors who are cast as her parents (Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar) did not get enough scope to perform their respective roles.[64] Raja Sen, who gave the same views as those of Aditya Shrikrishna from The New Indian Express inscribed that Mukerji was successful to make her tics look like they appeared naturally and were not forced,[65][66] and Anna M. M. Vetticad described the actress as one of the "biggest strengths" of Hichki, adding that its uplifting theme and the assertive performance of Mukerji make the film watchable.[67] Billing it as a comeback vehicle for Mukerji, The Indian Express' Shalini Langer acclaimed Malhotra for not fulfilling the film with any romantic songs or sequences.[68] The Tamil newspaper Ananda Vikatan named it as the best example of what teachers should teach to their students,[69] with Anupama Chopra summarising, "[It] is a genuinely earnest film made with heart. But it doesn't take enough risks and consequently doesn't touch a raw nerve in the way that Taare Zameen Par [(2007)] did. But it's always nice to see a talented actress with all guns blazing."[70] A Swetha Ramakrishnan-written review carried by Firstpost claimed that Hichki would be not complete if Kabi did not feature in it.[71]

Box office[edit]

The film emerged as a commercial success in India and abroad, with the trade analyst Girish Johar telling The Indian Express that its business largely relied on the audience's word-of-mouth. However, he added that the issue of Tourette syndrome that is addressed in it would may not attract an enough audience.[72] Released in 975 theatres, the film had a strong opening when debuted in India, grossing 33 million (US$460,000).[48][73] After earning 200 million (US$2.8 million) in only five days at the country's box office, Sharma expressed his enjoyment by saying that he was motivated to produce more films with "universally-appealing" themes.[74] Hichki collected 591.3 million (US$8.3 million) following its theatrical run in India.[75] Globally, the film collected 2.15 billion (US$30 million) with most of which came from Chinese markets, where it grossed ¥120 million.[3][76] According to Firstpost, Hichki became India's highest-grossing female-led film of the year and the sixth film to gross more than 1 billion (US$14 million) in China.[77][78]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award/Organization Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Filmfare Awards Best Actress Rani Mukerji Nominated [79]
Giffoni Film Festival Best Film Aditya Chopra, Maneesh Sharma Won [80]
Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Best Film Aditya Chopra, Maneesh Sharma Nominated [80]
[81]
Best Director Siddharth P. Malhotra Nominated
Best Actress Rani Mukerji Won
Excellence in Cinema Rani Mukerji Won
Indywood Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Neeraj Kabi Won [80]
Best Editing Shweta Venkat Matthew Won
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Actress Rani Mukerji Nominated [82]
Screen Awards Best Actress Rani Mukerji Nominated [83]
Zee Cine Awards Best Actor – Female (Critics) Rani Mukerji Nominated [84]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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