By Poulomi Das May. 20, 2017
In Half-Girlfriend, Chetan Bhagat and Mohit Suri come together to provide an educational PSA for Romeos looking for their One Indian Girl.
Back in 2014, India’s shrewdest troll Chetan Bhagat pulled a Shashi Tharoor when he sent the whole country scurrying for Google after dropping a new word in the lexicon of Indian bros just starting to come to terms with their horniness. Turning the concept of love, and dating on its head, Bhagat struck down “friendzone”, and devised the term “Half-Girlfriend” for testosterone-fuelled Romeos. With it, Bhagat defined the menace of girls wanting to be “dost se thoda zyaada aur girlfriend se kaafi kam”.
Three years later, Bhagat’s seminal piece of literature has been adapted on celluloid by Mohit Suri as Half-Girlfriend. Starring Arjun Kapoor as Madhav Jha, aka the most nationalistic Bihari prince ever, and Shraddha Kapoor as Riya Somani, aka the most basketball player ever, it is an incisive, eye-opening account highlighting the unfortunate reality facing innocent, emotionally vulnerable “non-English” types populating small towns in India, looking for somebody to love. Half-Girlfriend also drops a truthbomb like no other: Boys wearing their heart on their sleeves are the real victims in 2017. After all, they’re the ones getting mistreated and being left heartbroken by girls who have only recently been bestowed with the power of saying no.
The film, which is also the debut of Chetan Bhagat as co-producer (seriously, is there anything this man cannot spoil?) and Bill Gates as a photoshopped character actor, is thus a guide for all the brave Romeos navigating the cruel witchery of half-girlfriends without giving up hope, misogyny, and an uncontrollable fondness for disguising stalking as undying love. In doing so, it seeks to answer a pertinent question: How do you find out if you deserve a Half-Girlfriend? Let Madhav Jha, state-level basketball player and the prince of Simrao village in Bihar, he whose English is as bad as the state of India’s democracy, help you in deciding whether you should attempt to add the other half in a half-girlfriend.
First, you kick off proceedings by being transfixed by the sight of a sports bra on a girl playing basketball despite being dressed up looking like she’s about to rap a verse out. It’ll be love at first sight for you, as it is for “Myself Madhav Jha, coming from village area” whose obsession for South Delhi’s budget Blair Waldorf is heightened by her obsession with getting wet in rains and her magical superpower of being able to converse with him in Hindi. You will realise that this Kevin Durant-loving Rain Girl is The One Indian Girl you were waiting for. This will no doubt be followed by the two of you scoring baskets from half-courts forging a friendship based on fistbump-foreplay and using the terrace of India Gate as your own private half-terrace. A high-security, nearly unbreachable monument in the heart of the capital is no doubt the site of revelation. It is here that you will learn that the love of your life has nursed life-long Indian Idol dreams: She’d like to sing live at New York bars. All will be good until on a drunken night-out, Singer Girl surprises you with a kiss and activates your hormones, thus giving weight to the conspiracy theory that nothing good happens in Hauz Khas Village on weekends.
Of course, now the pressure is on you. Best to confront Singing Sensation in a private spot, such as her birthday party; ask her the most Romeo question of all time, “lagte kya hum tumhare?” Put on the spot for committing one drunk mistake, Kisser Singer might inform you that she can’t be your girlfriend for reasons unknown. But she can definitely meet you halfway and be your half-girlfriend. Upon hearing these dreaded words, you must channel your Bihari Prince genes, and take a solemn oath to go to any lengths to convert your Half-Girlfriend into a Full-Girlfriend.
It is essential to follow this up with a three-year brooding vacation spread across Simrao and Delhi. During this period, you will suddenly discover you have a conscience and awaken to the joys of social work.
To start with, like Boney Ka Launda, you must disregard the Half-Girlfriend’s consent and participate in a Roadies-level task titled, “Usko room mein bula aur naam roshan kar”. When she figures out your motives, turn into the quintessential Chetan Bhagat Hero, hold her uncomfortably close, and utter a sanitised version of “Deti hai toh de, warna kat le”. Also, throw her against a chair, resulting in Half-Girlfriend leaving the room, college, and the country after getting married to her London-based family friend. Fear not. This might not look like it’s going according to plan, but it is.
It is essential to follow this up with a three-year brooding vacation spread across Simrao and Delhi. During this period, you will suddenly discover you have a conscience and awaken to the joys of social work. This phase of the guide, is titled “I have a dream” (of building toilets so that girls can go to school.) God, and sometimes Bill Gates himself, helps those who help others. Proving that serendipity is real, Billy dearest will visit your village to fund your mission, but to prove your mettle, you have to deliver a heartfelt speech in English. This is the moment your Hindi-Medium arse has been waiting for, because at this point, you will run into Now-Divorced Former Half-Girlfriend. Because women have infinite reserves of empathy and patience with abusive douchebags, she’ll use her spare time to start an exclusive Half-Girlfriend English Coaching Classes for you.
But your work is not done yet. On the day of the speech, show Former Half-Girlfriend who wears the pants in your Half-Relationship by giving the speech in Hindi instead and charm the richest CGI man in the world, because magic is real. It will not only land you a grant, but a sick internship with the United Nations. Sorry, no water or logic breaks allowed in this guide. Former Half-Girlfriend won’t be able to stand your overachiever ass any longer, and will decide to fake cancer to go live her life at a New York bar. Then comes the the part where you turn into an alcoholic-stalker UN intern in NY. Here, you can invoke the higher spirit of Ace Surgical Striker Narendra Modi and give a speech at the United Nations praising the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” initiative.
Next, prepare for the most difficult part where you have to become a Half-Boyfriend to a Broken-Hearted Indian Girl, who will fall fully in love with you faster than Usain Bolt completes races. This Broken-Hearted Deux Ex Machina will show you the path to your Very Much Alive Terminally-Ill Former Girlfriend. Of course, she loves you! She’s loved you all along and that’s why she put you through the paces by faking an illness. She’s also psychotic, but if you haven’t figured that out by now, you both totally deserve each other. Here, you get to complete your long-delayed Roadies task of sleeping with No-Longer Half-Girlfriend.
And this brings us to the end of this test. If you thought this was tough, try reading the Chetan Bhagat original.
When not obsessing over TV shows, planning unaffordable vacations, or stuffing her face with french fries, Poulomi likes believing that some day her sense of humour will be darker than her under-eye circles.