Hichki (transl. Hiccup) is a 2018 Indian Hindi drama film, directed by Sidharth P. Malhotra and produced by Maneesh Sharma under the banner Yash Raj Films. The movie is an Indian adaptation of Brad Cohen’s 2005 autobiography Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had, which Yash Raj Films acquired the rights to, with Cohen himself also giving advice during the film’s production.
Hichki stars Rani Mukerji in the lead role of an aspiring teacher having Tourette syndrome, who must prove herself by educating a group of underprivileged students. The film’s trailer was launched on December 19, 2017, and Rani Mukerji received her ninth Nomination for Filmfare Award for Best Actress at 64th Filmfare Awards. It was theatrically released on 23 March 2018 to generally positive reviews from critics. Hichki was also screened at the Shanghai International Film Festival on June 16, 2018.
Hichki is Mukerji’s first film released after a four-year hiatus, and emerged as a “Blockbuster” at the box office. Produced on a limited budget of ₹12 crore (US$1.7 million), the film grossed ₹239 crore (US$34 million) worldwide, the majority of which came from China. Hichki became one of the top seven highest-grossing Bollywood films of 2018, as well as the third all-time highest-grossing Indian film led by a female protagonist. The film was also the eighth highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2018.
Naina Mathur (Rani Mukerji) is an aspiring teacher with a BEd and MSc who is unable to attain her dream job of becoming a teacher as she suffers from Tourette syndrome. Her condition causes her to make uncontrollable sounds likened to hiccups. Although she has been unsuccessful for the past 5 years in landing a teaching job, she is supported in her ambitions by her mother (Supriya Pilgaonkar) and her younger brother (Hussain Dalal). It is revealed that her father (Sachin Pilgaonkar) divorced her mother several years earlier, which is why Naina’s relationship with him is strained. It is also portrayed that her father detests her attempts of becoming a teacher as he sees this profession as gaining lesser money, and thus he keeps trying to get her to accept her weakness and land another job that she is able to cope with even with her “miserable condition”.
One day, Naina receives an offer to teach at the prestigious St. Notker’s School, a job which she had applied to 5 times before. When asked why she was so persistent for the particular school, Naina explains that she herself graduated from St. Notker’s and was inspired by Mr. Khan (Vikram Gokhale), a former principal. He had believed in her and announced that she would never be expelled for being different. Naina’s unwavering confidence impresses the current school committee and they assign her to 9F, a new class section. It is revealed that the school was desperate to hire her as all other teachers had failed to get the class to cooperate. Naina notices that the students are unruly, misbehaved and are visibly different. Shyamlal, the school’s peon (Asif Basra), discloses to her that the 9F students belong to families from a nearby slum and that they were given admission to fill the government-prescribed quota for the underprivileged.
On the first day of class, Naina’s students imitate her sounds and mock her. She decides to teach them in an interactive way, determined to show resilience when dealing with the class. The students prank her with liquid nitrogen and this causes a mild explosion that shatters the classroom windows. Naina prevents the class from being expelled by saying that the prank required much thought and planning, and if that thought and planning can be guided in the right direction, the class’s potential will be limitless. Mr. Wadia (Neeraj Kabi), the teacher of class 9A, strongly dislikes the 9F students. His class is composed of student prefects, who are academically excellent. Naina challenges Mr. Wadia that students from 9F will earn prefect badges as well.
The school’s annual Science Fair project is assigned to 9A, who are prevented from mingling with 9F by Mr. Wadia. They yearn to experience the interactive experiments that 9F gets to partake in but Mr. Wadia dismisses them as inferior to textbook learning. Meanwhile, 9F warms up to Naina and begin wholeheartedly participating in class; she teaches them to be brave in their pursuit of knowledge and helps them realize their individual strengths. Aatish (Harsh Mayar), the sole student who remains cold towards Naina, secretly sabotages 9A’s project in his vengeance. This is discovered by Mr. Wadia and the Principal (Shivkumar Subramaniam) decides to expel 9F. Once again, Naina prevents this by promising that the class will pass their final exams, but she is unable to prevent their suspension from attending school till the exams. Dejected, she tells her students that they have shattered her attempt to help them. Aatish’s classmates help him realize his mistake and he publicly expresses regret.
All of 9F studies diligently for their exams. Shyamlal supplies Aatish copies of the wrong question paper so they would fail, but when he presents them to his classmates, they refuse to cheat and he gives up on the idea as well. Exam results prove Naina’s promise as the 9F students pass successfully. However, the class is accused of cheating as Shyamlal confesses to supplying question papers, and the Principal decides to publicly expel them during the prefect pinning ceremony. Prior to the event, Akshay (Rohit Suresh Saraf), one of Mr. Wadia’s students reveals that he bribed Shyamlal into supplying the wrong question papers, and he realizes that 9F did not cheat. Mr. Wadia takes to the stage and announces the he, himself, wrongfully tried to fail the students. He then applauds Naina’s transformative teaching and asks her to pin the prefect badge to her students who ranked first. She later tells him that she doubts that he bribed Shyamlal. Mr. Wadia smiles and says that he doubts she caused a liquid nitrogen explosion. With the combined efforts of 9A and 9F, the Science Fair project is rebuilt and wins the competition.
The film shows Naina’s last day at St. Notker’s where she has served for 25 years and has been Principal. As she walks out of the school, the school’s students bid farewell. The last to happily bid her adieu are the students of 9F who are now successful adults.
Rani Mukerji as Ms. Naina Mathur
Naisha Khanna as Young Naina Mathur
Shiv Kumar Subramaniam as Principal
Neeraj Kabi as Mr. Wadia
Supriya Pilgaonkar as Sudha Mathur, Naina’s mother
Sachin Pilgaonkar as Prabhakar Mathur, Naina’s father
Hussain Dalal as Vinay Mathur, Naina’s brother
Harsh Mayar as Aatish
Sparsh Khanchandani as Oru
Ivan Sylvester Rodrigues as School Principal
Benjamin Yangal as Ashwin
Kalaivanan Kannan as Raghu
Vikrant Mitun soni as Killam
Rohit Suresh Saraf as Akshay
Vikram Gokhale as Mr Khan
Asif Basra as Shyamlal
Riddhi Arora as Sunidhi
Suprio Bose as Mr. Pereira
Jannat Zubair Rahmani as Natasha
Kkunal Shinde as Senior Pankaj
Aman Gandotra in a cameo