You have seen it all before, you know what’s going to happen next, yet you refuse to give up on it.
Half Girlfriend, the romantic drama featuring Shraddha Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor, evokes those sentiments.
Arjun plays the Hindi-speaking Madhav who falls in love with Riya, a privileged popular girl from his anglophone-dominated college, played by Shraddha. She’s out of his league. He knows it, she knows it but that doesn’t stop them from forging ahead.
Just like any solid Bollywood potboiler, it is love at first sight for the hero who is convinced that he has met the woman of his dreams in a snap. The vision of her playing basket ball is enough for him to take that giant leap of faith.
But Riya isn’t as impulsive as the love-struck Madhav. She is the quintessential elitist who has a poignant backstory. She’s troubled, but isn’t such a train-wreck that she would try and self-destruct.
Based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel, this film explores the world of love, heartaches and passion in an engaging manner.
Shraddha shines in her role as Riya. And that isn’t an easy job, because she’s the one with economic advantages here and her conflict can seem trivial. Imagine, she’s rich enough to carry Chanel bags to college and is known to host lavish birthday brunches at her white palatial mansion, so making the viewer empathetic to her personal troubles isn’t an easy job. But Shraddha carries off her role with immense grace.
Arjun has a firm grip on Madhav, that underdog who speaks English with a heavy Indian vernacular accent, in the first half.
He sheds his urbane real-life persona and digs deep into the world of Madhav who considers himself a misfit among the posh Delhi crowd. He plays that goofy, gentle-giant guy to perfection.
The chemistry between these two is crackling. They seem like a natural fit together and though you have seen similar rich girl-meets-regular boy love stories before, the actors breathe life into a jaded story. Kapoor’s simpleton act doesn’t grate either.
It’s the second half that gets a tad dramatic. Madhav’s borderline obsessive behaviour to get Riya back into his life isn’t always a pleasant watch.
The scenes, set in New York, in which he is on this mad quest to pin down the elusive Riya is exhausting to watch. At some point, you wonder why he doesn’t step back and analyse his own chaotic existence. The climax too is a bit of a downer, too.
The supporting cast does a splendid job of adding some meat to the story. Seema Biswas, as Madhav’s strong, but bizarrely conservative mother, is a treat to watch. Her schizophrenic attitude towards clutching on to her traditional beliefs and seemingly progressive attitude towards girl education should have been culled out better. However, the focus of this film is on the tempestuous love story between Riya and Madhav. Despite that, Madhav’s mates from college are a hoot and perform well in their limited screen time.
Watch this film if you are in the mood for a romance punctuated by a generous dose of drama, tears and heartache.You may not become any wiser in love with this film, but you are not going to die of boredom either.
Time: 130 mins