Hichki is the story of Naina Mathur, a teacher who struggles with Tourette Syndrome and yet turns a bunch of naughty, weak in studies students into successful people. “School ke baahar jab zindagi imtehaan leti hai, to subject-wise nahin leti” is what Naina Ma’am believes in and wants make everyone understand, including teachers and students. A review by 12-year-old Anshula.
Hichki is about a lady named Naina Mathur who has a neurological condition called Tourette Syndrome, which forces her to make unwanted sounds. In her childhood, she was thrown out of 12 schools because of making unwanted sounds or ‘hichkis’. The 13th school was St.Notker’s.
One day when a function was going on, Naina’s Tourette Syndrome disturbed everyone. The Principal Mr. Khan called her to the stage and asked her to stop the sounds. Little Naina replied, “I can’t, Sir.” He asked, “Why not?” She said that she had Tourette Syndrome and explained that it was something she could not control.
Mr. Khan said, “This is a school. Yahan sabhi seekhne aate hain par aaj tumne hum sab ko kuchh sikhaya hai. On behalf of all the teachers, I promise you that you will be treated as other students.” This helps Naina to finish her education and makes her determined to become a teacher despite her problem.
Although she has the qualifications, she is rejected by 18 schools for a teacher’s job. When she is invited to a job interview by the principal of St.Notker’s, she tells them about how Mr Khan had helped her. The Principal says, Mr Khan was an inspiration for all of us and Naina says, to me he still is.
But Mr Wadia, the senior Science teacher, does not feel she is suitable for the job with her Tourette Syndrome problem. He asks, “Will you be able to manage with this? Well, I have never seen a teacher with a speech defect.” Naina replies that the defect is in my speech Sir, not in my work.
When the Principal shows her the class, she is surprised at the new ‘9 F’ division, which was not there earlier. He explains, “Thanks to Right to Education ab hai, sirf 14 bachchon ki.” Surprised Naina asks, why only 14 and why is the class empty? The Principal says that the teacher has gone on permanent leave and he is willing to take the risk with her only because they desperately need a teacher. Naina takes up the challenge.
On the first day of the school, she meets the school peon Shyamlal, who asks her, “Madam, aap 9F ko padhane aayi hain?” She says, “Haan. Kyun?” He gets a little frightened and says, “Nahin, badiya hai.” The suspense about 9F builds up. Anyone else in Naina’s place would have become nervous. But not Naina. This shows us that how much Naina is determined about her work and her goal to become a teacher.
We soon come to know what 9F is. The 14 children belong to the lower middle class and come from the basti nearby. They are a bunch of pranksters. On the first day they break Naina’s chair, make posters and stick them on the walls of the school with advertisements like, ”Feeling lonely? Call Naina Mathur for happiness!”
Anyone else would have quit the job but Naina meets Shyamlal and asks him why these children are behaving like this. Shyamlal tells her their whole story and how the school and its teachers have never accepted them. Hearing this, Naina becomes more determined to make them equal with all the students in the whole school, especially the toppers in 9A.
The children keep playing pranks putting Naina in greater difficulty. Naina realizes that teaching them in the class will not help and so she starts taking her classes outside in the open. And she starts applying science in real life situations which are part of the daily life. By throwing boiled eggs at the students and making them catch and eat them, she teaches them the theory of Parabola.
When no parent turns up at the PTM, Naina goes into the slums to meet them. She finds Ravinder gambling, and Tara going to fetch water as her mom had gone to sell fish. Oroo’s mother is also waiting in the queue for water while Aatish and Killam work in a garage. Tamanna’s mother tells her, “Ma’am, aap is basti ki bahar ki duniyaan se hamaare liye ek umeed ban kar aye ho. Hum bas yahi chahte hain ki humaare bachhe woh kar sakein jo hum nahin kar sake.”
Naina realizes that to teach this class of students who have to struggle at every step of life, she has to apply real life experiences. And that is why she takes them to the environment to study. They now find studies interesting and easy to understand and start preparing for the final exams.
Seeing them having fun Natasha (the topper and Prefect of 9A) and her friend wish that they could also have a class like this!
One day when Natasha invites them to see the science model 9A students are making for the National Science Fair, Wadia Sir insults them badly and throws them out of the lab. Aatish gets so angry at this humiliation that he destroys the model badly. For this, the entire class gets suspended. The interesting thing to notice is that the children take the blame together although they were not aware of Aatish and Killam’s intention to destroy the model. Oroo and all her other friends are very angry at Aatish but they face the punishment together.
Thanks to Naina Ma’am’s pleas, the students are at least given the chance to appear for the exams. Realizing their mistake, Aatish and Killam beg forgiveness from Naina Ma’am. Now their real struggle starts. They do all they can to study hard and pass the exams because they feel if anyone in the class would fail, 9F and Naina Ma’am would be ashamed in front of the whole school and become a matter of joke for everyone. And Wadia Sir will be proven right that these kids are not equal to the rest.
Their efforts are rewarded when Oroo tops the exam results and everyone passes, including Killam, but still in the end, they are on the verge of being expelled!
As students, the most important lesson we draw from Hichki, is that, we should never give up. Oroo and her friends realise that the opportunity that Naina Ma’am is giving them to shine will not come again.
The other very important lesson we draw is from Wadia Sir. He takes the blame for paper leakage, for which he was not responsible. But he does so because he realises that he had been teaching and encouraging inequality between the students. He feels guilty and has the courage to admit his mistake. Very few people in this world have this quality.
The most inspiring characters in Hichki, I feel, are Natasha and Wadia Sir. Natasha for her nature which never believes in class stereotypes and prejudices. Everyone is equal in front of her. And Wadia Sir for admitting his mistake in front of the school by taking a blame for something he did not know. Thus, he changes his student Akshay’s negative nature towards the positive, forever.
Of course, Naina Ma’am’s determination to overcome her problem and achieve her goal is something we must adapt in our lives.
Hichki has some nice songs and I love Teri daastan as it shows that all the students of 9F have now become successful in life and come to wish their Naina Ma’am at her Farewell.
The scene I loved was when Naina Ma’am asks them to write their fears and things they hate in a piece of paper and make paper planes out of them. When they throw the planes in the air, they tell their fears that now you are my strength, not my weakness!
One thing I did not like was Aatish’s constant hatred towards Akshay, as if Akshay is responsible for Aatish’s situation. He keeps picking fights with him and that makes them hate each other more.
(All pictures are courtesy Yash Raj Films and Movie Stills available on the Internet)
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