Saba Qamar wins over critics with a strong performance in debut Bollywood film, Hindi Medium.
Whether or not you enjoyed Saba Qamar’s performance in Wajahat Rauf’s Lahore Se Aagey is beside the point. As luck would have it, Qamar (along with her co-star, the always dependable Irrfan Khan) is being lauded by critics for giving a strong performance in Saket Chaudhary’s Hindi Medium, a Bollywood film that marks the actor’s cross-border debut.
In a review for The Hindustan Times, Rohit Vats, while reflecting on the lead pair’s performance, noted: “Irrfan as the lover of soap opera Naagin is subtle and precise. His backstory serves the film in more than one way. It helps Qamar’s character flourish. As an understanding and deeply in love husband, Khan is a treat to watch in Hindi Medium. Qamar is equally effective and funny as a wife who keeps saying ‘stand ho jao’ and ‘lonely and depressed’.”
He also noted how the film is a much-needed comment “on the private school system and how it has become so important in our lives. It’s also a lesson for the concerned officials, who turn a blind eye to government schools that have millions of potential winners.”
India Today notes that though the film has some flaws, it is rescued by the humour and performances, particularly from its lead pair. “If you look at performances, Hindi Medium is a winner. Irrfan, usually seen as a serious actor, shows that there is nothing he cannot do justice to. He effortlessly makes you laugh as the tailor’s-assistant-turned-mega-tycoon trying to fit in with the old money crowd. Saba Qamar is Pakistan’s finest export so far, and excels as the Chandni Chowk girl with social climbing aspirations.”
Udita Jhunjhunwala, in a review for Live Mint, notes that while “the film is no topper” it is backed by solid performances. “Irrfan and Qamar are well-paired—he bringing a natural charm, she suiting the character of the dolled-up yummy mummy.”
Shubhra Gupta’s review in Indian Express echoes the same. “The film opens well, and both Irrfan and Pakistani actress Saba, make you feel the anxiety and the anguish of parents in search of that very elusive holy grail: an English-medium school that will take their children to the pinnacle of success.”
Firstpost, while not very impressed with the film, did note in its review that Khan and Qamar “have nice chemistry between them”. Reiterating the view further, it was stated, “Between her and Fawad Khan, they might convince Hindi film audiences that Pakistan has cornered a majority share of the world’s hotness. Though her character is often hyper, her acting never is – that is a fine line to tread, and she pulls it off.”
It looks like Qamar’s acting chops have put her in a league of her own. As NDTV pointed out, “If Hindi Medium remains watchable all the same, it is only because it is difficult not to marvel at the spark that Irrfan adds to the film. He receives rock-solid support not just from Saba Qamar - far and away the most poised of all the Pakistani actresses who’ve been in Hindi films in recent years.”