Whether or not a film lives up to the title depends not only on the content but also the title itself. In the case of Mohit Suri’s Half Girlfriend, it does live up to the name, which is not good news. Or maybe, it’s half good news. But it certainly means that the film doesn’t provide full satisfaction, although it had the potential to rise at least till the three-fourth level.
Half Girlfriend is a romantic drama between Madhav Jha (Arjun) and Riya Somani (Shraddha). Madhav hails from a poor family in Bihar. He lives with his mother, who struggles to run a boys’ school. Madhav and his mother’s aim is to open the school for girls too, but they don't have adequate support from the authorities. Riya belongs to a family of super-rich businessmen in Delhi. In other words, Madhav and Riya’s worlds are poles apart.
The two of them enter each other's lives in a college in Delhi after Madhav somehow secures admission. Madhav and Riya start bonding over basketball. The guy is always intimidated by the fact that the girl belongs to a class way higher than his. But Riya has no such qualms. As time passes, they become more than friends. However, their relationship is limited to she being his 'half girlfriend'. Whatever that means.
Is there any future for the two? Will she ever be Madhav’s full girlfriend?
If you have seen the promos of Half Girlfriend, you can pretty much guess the film’s storyline. But even if you haven’t, it is still easy to predict the entire film if you know how these typical Bollywood-ish love stories travel. But despite such a high degree of predictability, you don’t give up on the film, not for 60% of its duration at least.
The fast narrative and some decent humour keeps you interested even if the romance is not entirely convincing. Madhav’s character, his bad English and his noble mission for his village moves you. Director Suri’s films generally manage to rise in the music department and this is the case here too. ‘Main Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga’ is a truly moving number. ‘Tu Thodi Der Aur Thehar Ja’ is impressive too.
But Half Girlfriend loses the plot in the last 40 minutes or so, which are vital. A couple of characters start behaving weird all of a sudden. For example, the character of a woman suddenly becoming patriarchal doesn’t gel well with her originally progressive traits. But what really kills the film is the final twist, which can be best described as senseless. If this is their idea of providing a surprise element, it would have been better to end the film in a cliched, tried-and-tested manner.
There is an unintentionally hilarious moment too when Bill Gates enters the scene. It is an example of bad CGI. It makes Sushant Singh Rajput’s not-so-convincing morphed image on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s body in M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016) look good.
There is nothing extraordinary in Arjun and Shraddha’s performances, but they sail through as Madhav and Riya. While Shraddha is getting repetitive, thankfully she doesn’t irritate this time. Arjun is the better of the two. Although he is not flawless, his character is at least believable.
The supporting cast doesn’t get enough screen time. Veteran artist Seema Biswas lives up to her name. Vikrant Massey too shines as Madhav’s best friend. But later on, his switch from the modern to the typical Bihari accent seems unnatural. Rhea Chakraborty is passable in a cameo.
Overall, Half Girlfriend is a tried-and-tested romantic saga that falters when it matters the most.
Reviewed by Keyur Seta