Half Girlfriend Review: A Little Better Than Bad, Much Less Than Good

Half Girlfriend Arjun Kapoor Shraddha Kapoor

Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) is a small time royal from Simrao, Bihar who comes to Delhi for admission to the prestigious St Stephen’s College. During his interview, he describes himself as a good and sincere young man. It helps that his basketball skills earn him a berth even though his command of the English language is minimal.

On day one of college Madhav gets besotted by the upscale Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor). Riya’s first language is English and she’s not half bad on the basketball court. Based on the Chetan Bhagat novel, this is basically an old-fashioned love story about two people from different sides of the language divide. The one thing they have in common is that they are both low on ambition: Riya wants to sing in bars in New York City and Madhav just wants to understand his relationship status with Riya. What in the world does half girlfriend mean? What are the boundaries? And what will it take to attain full status?

In an effort to figure this out, one day Madhav makes a move on Riya in his hostel room. It doesn’t end well. He gets aggressive with her, and she snaps. Half girlfriend and Madhav fully break up to the extent that, at just 19 years of age, she drops out of college to have an arranged marriage.

Like the book, Madhav narrates the story hence his view of Riya is rather biased. To the audience though, neither Madhav nor Riya are particularly anything – not lovable, not even very likeable. A little grown up and now working people, Madhav and Riya reconnect some years later and re-establish a friendship even though he’s still hopelessly in love with her. Madhav needs to make a presentation in English and Riya agrees to help him out. And once the assignment is complete – she disappears, leaving behind a letter. Those who have read the book would know what the twist is; for those who have no spoilers here.

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Suffice to say, Madhav now moves to New York, ostensibly for an internship but also in pursuit of Riya, because basically, he does not know how to take no for an answer. There he reconnects with his old college roommate, fellow Bihari Sailesh (Vikrant Massey) who has now gentrified and lives in a Manhattan penthouse. Even though Sailesh and his wife try to help Madhav move on, he’s just pining for Riya. It’s rather tiresome actually such that you don’t give half a hoot whether Madhav finds Riya and whether they finally shift their relationship status from it’s complicated to heart emojis!

Director Mohit Suri has largely made a loyal adaptation of the novel and hence the film should appeal to Bhagat’s vast fan following. A film headlining Shraddha and Arjun Kapoor immediately defines its audience – the millennials. Acting is hardly a quality to this film, which is more about style and ironing out a wafer-thin plot that didn’t really deserve a film adaptation.

Rating: **

Watch Video Half Girlfriend Full Interview With Mohit Suri And Chetan Bhagat!

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Tara Agrawal

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