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.

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Aashiqui 2

poster featuring a couple hugging each other

I have mixed feelings about this movie. The intentions were good and I think the film was a blockbuster, but things didn’t quite play out right in the story. It just didn’t make sense. This film is supposed to be an epic love story, a film that makes us believe in love all over again. It’s supposed to show that unconditional love still exists. I’m not sure from which angle of the film we’re supposed to get all these messages. Yes, there is unconditional love. Aarohi has unconditional love for Rahul and Rahul has unconditional love for alcohol. He loves alcohol so much that he’d rather live without his girlfriend or die than to quit drinking. Rahul (Aditya) is an alcoholic singer on downfall. He used to have a lot of fame but decided to ruin his career and life by taking up drinking and ignoring his career committments. On one drunken day, he comes across Aarohi (Shraddha) at a beer bar. She is singing his song. Rahul is very touched by Aarohi and decides that he will make a superstar, a famous singer. As Rahul helps her reach fame, the two fall in love. But Rahul’s fame and money quickly diminishes because of his alcohol habit and laziness. He feels that he can never leave drinking and that his drinking will get in the way of Aarohi’s success. He tries to distance himself from her and this is what makes up most of the film. The film seemed promising in the beginning. Aditya’s intense looks and Shraddha’s innocence were attractive. Aditya and Shraddha make a gorgeous on-screen couple. And they had their moments of intense love. Like in the studio scene when Rahul tells Aarohi that he loves her. But as the scenes progress, it becomes more and more confusing why Rahul doesn’t stop drinking and why Aarohi doesn’t do more to help him than just giving him hugs. Why does Rahul have to drink so much? What is his excuse? That he’s bored of fame and yet can’t handle not being famous anymore? What kind of contradiction is that? Aarohi does seem to truly love him, they both clearly love each other. But why doesn’t Aarohi get him some real help or encourage him to sing and make a career again? He trained her to be a better singer, she could do the same for him. Why don’t they make a duet or something? As the questions multiplied in my mind towards the end of the film, things got too unrealistic or should I say outright stupid for me. If only they had given us some solid reason as to why Rahul is tormenting himself and causing his own destruction. Perhaps a mental disorder? A past incident, a grievance? It would have explained his impending doom and added reality and intensity to their love. I mean who becomes an alcoholic because fame came too easy? And every time he tries to pull his act together, he falls back to alcohol because he heard some random people saying stupid stuff? The stuff they’re saying isn’t even true. And yet Rahul gets so affected by what these people say that he tries to ease his pain by drowning in alcohol.  Why?!   I also couldn’t help but feel that this film was inspired by too many things. Shraddha’s character was all too reminiscent of Shreya Goshal. Yes, it’s her voice singing but at times, Shraddha even looked like her. And the drunken, out-of-control behavior of Rahul was all too reminiscent of Ranbir’s recent performance in Rockstar. The best thing about this movie was definitely Aditya and Shraddha, Aditya especially. I knew he had potential from the beginning and he fulfilled my expectations. This was his best performance yet. And he looked so handsome. He has an intense romantic look that can make any girl faint. This was the first time I watched Shraddha on screen. She was a bit stiff at times, but mostly acted very well and was very expressive. She’s also very cute.

As for the music, music is a very important part of this film. I listened to a few of the songs before I watched the movie and they seemed a bit too slow and boring for me. But after seeing the songs picturized, I have grown more fond of them. Of the songs, I enjoyed Sunn Raha Hai and Milne Hai Mujhse the most. Milne Hai Mujse wasn’t included in the film, they did shoot a video for it and include it in the DVD though.