The ‘Half-Spirited’ Half Girlfriend

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(I did not read the book, so there will be no comparisons between the book and the movie in this post.)

A college love story. A guy desperate for love and following the girl everywhere like a puppy, with sad puppy eyes and puppy fat. It seems like they will never get together. He has to struggle, and pine, and pine some more, and hope for a miracle.

Does all of this sound familiar?

I will not beat around the bush for this one. Half Girlfriend is a sadder, blander version of Chetan Bhagat’s 2 States. 2 States was an enjoyable film, lighter in mood, and spiced by comparisons of North and South culture, and a watchable chemistry between the leads. Half Girlfriend is a “half-spirited” version of the former.

The story is very similar, but somehow, it doesn’t work. From the first moment until the last, it feels superficial and unconvincing. Actually, if the chemistry and acting had been better, it might have worked. I mean, objectively speaking, every hit film doesn’t have an excellent story. Much of the time, it’s the chemistry and convincing acting that carries the film through and achieves its aim. For example — the classic Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (even Karan Johar admits it), and the overrated Aashiqui 2 (yes, really). Unfortunately, these were missing in this film. It felt like the leads themselves weren’t convinced about their characters or the story, you could see that they did not fully invest in the portrayal.

Also I’m starting to see a trend in the writing of Chetan Bhagat with 2 States and Half Girlfriend, a kind of inferiority complex in the boy. In both stories, the boy feels unworthy of the girl. He doesn’t believe he is good enough for her, and yet still wants her? A “Phir Bhi Tumko Chaunga” phenomenon? Shall we ask psychologists to add a new term to the medical dictionary? Jokes apart, why is the male character so under-confident and why does he constantly feel sorry for himself? It’s kind of difficult to get the audience to root for you if you don’t have the sensibility to root for yourself.

The music is very nice, especially Baarish and Tu Hi Hai. Tu Hi Hai is delightful. In fact, I’d rather consider the film a 2 hour and 15 minute music video. After all that’s said, do I even need to tell you not to watch this film?

On a totally different side note, throughout Half Girlfriend, I kept wishing that it was Neha Sharma on screen instead of Shraddha Kapoor. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Shraddha. I enjoyed her performances in Haider and Ek Villain. I admit she has potential but she doesn’t deliver consistently. Either she doesn’t try hard enough, or maybe requires certain criteria, like a feeling of connection with the character or excellent direction, to encourage the artist inside her. Sadly, in many of her films, all that’s present is an innocent pretty face.

2 States Review

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2 States is the adaptation of the book 2 states written by Chetan Bhagat. It’s a romantic film starring Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. The story of the film is simple. It’s about the love of a Punjabi boy, Krish (Arjun) and a Tamilian girl, Ananya (Alia) and the struggles they go through to convince their parents and get married.

A lot has been said about the film since it released. There were very different reviews. Some called it the next best thing since sliced bread while others were less than impressed. I had low expectations from the film because I heard that it was about North Indian and South Indian stereotypes, which put me off a little bit.

I think 2 States might *just* be the next best thing since sliced bread. The film does not contain as many stereotypes and cliches about Punjabis and Tamilians as some critics claim. It’s actually a very beautiful story and I’m quite impressed, with the film and with the performances.

I have not read the book, so I cannot make any comparisons between the book and the film. I can only review the film which I think is both realistic and also very heartfelt and touching. I’m not saying it’s perfect. I have an issue with the hypocrisy of the characters that is portrayed as so normal and acceptable in the film. I’m talking about the whole “let’s do everything in secret and act all proper in front of our parents” hypocrisy. I mean these are two young adults who have a very serious relationship for more than two years, which also involves regularly having sex. But when they’re in front of their parents, they act like complete strangers. They call each other “friend” or “good friend.” And what if their parents hadn’t agreed? They would have gone on with their lives like nothing happened. I have a hard time digesting this. I actually find it sickening but I realize that the film doesn’t intend to give this message, so I’m trying not to get stuck on this part of the film. But I do wish that the film didn’t have intimate scenes. Then, it would have been an all out clean family film that families could watch together.

I’m very impressed with Alia. I saw her first film, SOTY. I did not see Highway because I’m not in the mood for depressive films, but I know that her acting in Highway was raved by many. I think that Alia is a very talented girl who is improving her acting skills very quickly. A few of her gestures and expressions remind me of Kareena Kapoor. But Kareena couldn’t even dream of acting so well in her third film. I think, actually I know that Alia has a very bright future as an actress. She is a complete delight to watch on screen.

Arjun was okay. I was a bit distracted by his droopy eyes and the fixed frown that he seems to be born with. He is not a bad actor but I think he can improve his dialogue delivery a little bit, perhaps speak a bit more loudly? This is the first film of his I have seen, so I can’t comment on how he has done in this film compared to his other films. I do feel that Alia performed better than him in this film however.

There isn’t much else to say about the film aside from that a beautiful story is delivered in a very underrated way, which makes the film even better. The way Krish spent time at Ananya’s home to impress her parents reminded me of DDLJ. I was actually upset about why the boy always has to impress the parents and not the girl, but that thought was put to rest in the second part of the film. Overall, it’s a nice film about what issues a modern Indian couple from two different states and cultures have to face to be together.

I highly recommend 2 States. It’s entertaining and emotional and certainly worth your time.