Gippi makes you happy!
Director: Sonam Nair
Actors: Riya Vij, Divya Dutta
By Mayank Shekhar
Like a hard-nosed dentist, I suppose, if you sat through a script reading session of Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year, determined to fill up all the cavities in that film’s plot, adding a layer of logic, warmth and realism into it, wiping off most of the polish at the same time, you could end up with a movie closely similar to this. I could be saying this because both films, produced and released by Johar within a span of few months, are essentially intra-school dramas, set among kids at a particularly insecure phase in their lives when one’s self-worth almost entirely comes from validation from peers, and in that light they seem headed towards a head-to-head competition of sorts – head-boy/head-girl here – to finally settle a score.
This film is close to Student Of The Year in its genre and content in about the same way that Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Golmaal is to Rohit Shetty’s Bol Bachchan – which should be pretty close I guess, since they’re both comedies, even their story-lines are roughly the same. And yet discussing both movies simultaneously would be irrelevant, only because their intentions are so different that they pretty much negate each other.
Gippy is short for Gurpreet. Her friend should be called Grumpy. Both don’t seem to interact with people independently, preferring the comfort of one another in public or private, often sitting in a corner, sharing their observations, giggling, mildly bitching. This appears to me in life as the first sign of someone’s under-confidence. It can afflict the best of us.
Gippy is fairly bright, emotionally intelligent, effervescent, charming even – much like the film named after her. She is fat. This isn’t likely to attract the best looking boys. She hardly excels in studies or sports, and therefore in self-perception that is mainly based on school report cards or others’ perception of you at this stage, she might consider herself average, if not call herself a loser, as she once does in a moment of rage. Her school looks like one of those you’ve been to. Her classmates make her pine for older boys. She can barely tolerate the stupidity of male kids her age. This is so often true for girls in their early teens.
This is a fairly intimate story (smartly written and directed by Sonam Nair) made so real by an unselfconscious performance by the lead actor (Riya Vij) who couldn’t herself be over 14 or 15 years old while the camera stays on her almost throughout, enlarging her face to 20 times its size as she remains restraint, rarely missing a note. Contrast this with her theatrical dad’s cameo and you might be able to notice the difference. Some are just born screen talents, some are not. Divya Dutta plays the gentle mom. Rarely do you come across an audience applauding at the end of a film at a press show. I did here. This is because this film nails it in the end. Very few do.
Gippy could grow up to be a hippy. But she’s just a pre-pubescent at this stage, learning about sex from Jackie Collins novels and about friendship from Dale Carnegie’s bestseller. I don’t know what she or kids her age watch on TV. I would look at the Wonder Years or Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander for a comforting mirror. She probably checks out cosmetics ads after dumb reality shows after films about a watertight “youth” with dainty figures, impossibly rich daddies, driving their beemer to a la-la land. Student Of The Year? Maybe! I’m just glad the best anti-dote to a “Karan Johar” film is a film produced by Karan Johar himself. This is just as it should be!