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Movie Review: Half Girlfriend (bollywood)

The recent Bollywood movie ‘Half Girlfriend’ is elusive in its title. The title and even the trailer made me expect a cheap thrill or at best a moderately well-done drama, given the odd chance of an exceptionally well written movie. The trailer gives nothing away of the message of the movie.

On the one hand it walks us through a shift the female identity is experiencing in India; pushing against the weight of traditional social norms and values. On the other hand it presents how two people can care about each other so much they can empower each other to disrupt these norms.

The girl who comes from a wealthy dysfunctional family meets a boy from a poor closely-knit home from a village in Bihar. Their encounter takes place at university where he gravitates towards her owing to her prestige and beauty and she to him due to the care he offers and the genuine earnest with which he offers it.

A severe rift unfortunately comes between them and she decides to leave. Heart-broken she marries a man her family prescribes for her. As circumstance would have it her rebound marriage turns out to be with a man who is abusive and she chooses a divorce.

As the movie progresses the lead characters cross paths to find each other again. At one point the following dialogue takes place between the girl and the boy’s mother:

Mother: “Why did you leave your husband?”

Girl: “I chose to leave because I did not feel alive.”

Mother: “Darrarun (cracks/faults) kae sath zinda rehnae ko he zindagi kehtae hein.”

Later, when the boy offers her an apology she discloses that her decision to run away from a life of suffering was driven by the pain she saw her mother experience at the hands of her abusive father.

Afraid of another divorce and unable to see how a woman ready to stand her ground could survive the tribulations of married life the boy’s mother asks her to leave. She leaves but let’s him know why; in a letter she admits that she had staged an act. After her divorce she had returned to the city hoping to meet him. She lets him know of her conversation with his mother and also that she has been diagnosed with final stage cancer. She acknowledges her mother’s request and prays that he is able to build a happy future for himself. She also tells him that she has three months to live.

On the verge of breaking for a second time and unable to accept his circumstance the boy revolts and sets out to find her. Seeing him tearing inside his mother begs him and asks him to move on. His friends advise him not to throw his life away. Six months go by as he continues in his pursuit of her shadow. But as fate would have it she is still alive. He finds her at a bar in New York living out her life singing for a living; a dream she had once shared with him at university.

As they get married the movie ends with a lesson of hope for everyone rejected by society for not following its norms and values.


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