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Gippi review: Refreshing treat!

Sonam Nair
Riya Vij, Taaha Shah, Divya Dutta, Jayati Modi
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She's the teen version of Bridget Jones. Clumsy, overweight and made fun of by skinny girls with salon-perfect hair. The film is unique in that it speaks to and about adolescents, a sorely ignored audience group.

Growing up isn't easy, and the film empathises ever so gently.

It's the first day of school and Gippi (Riya Vij) is now in Class Nine. It's a rough day for her and she can't understand why everyone's so thrilled at being back at school. Best friend Anchal (Doorva Tripathi) mirrors her thoughts.

Gippi, short for Gurpreet, lives with her single mother (Divya Dutta) and brother. The family is going through a mini-crisis, as her father has just sent them an invitation card to his second marriage. It's difficult for the kids, and more so for the mother.

And when Gippi tells her mother, "You can talk to me, mom" with hilarious effect, you completely fall for her. Ice-cream is often the solution for tears in this warm, loving house. She's well-meaning you see and has the emotional intelligence of an adult.

Which is why you wonder why she calls herself a loser and how such a bright girl isn't good at studies or sports.

Gippi is an underdog with a difference. Far from moping about Shamira's (Jayati Modi, the Mean Girl of the school) jibes, she makes sure she gives it back that moment, and perhaps shedding a tear about it later. She's strong, but doesn't know it yet. Her strength shines forth in so many ways. She's unwilling to change herself to appease, whether it's taking the neighbourhood aunt's suggestion to wax or giving up milkshakes for green tea.

One wonders if a 14-year-old's life has become this competitive and 'adult'. Do girls of this age walk around in stilettos for a school function? Do they stop having ice-cream to maintain their figure? If that's the truth, it's tragic.

And that's why you love Gippi because she doesn't succumb and refuses to conform. Her message of accepting yourself and that 'it's ok to be you' is important.

The only problem with this characterisation: she confesses she just about manages to pass her exams, sucks at sports, and has zero talent. Now that's nothing to be proud of, and certainly doesn't make for a good role model. It's also incongruous because she's actually pretty smart.

Gippi's room door says, 'Do not disturb. Already disturbed'. She may be disturbed when we meet her, but finds her bearings quickly. And you cannot help but root for her.

The film, through its breezy humour, brings out other adolescent issues like periods, awkward body changes, and boyfriends. It deals with the concerns of a single parent family, of friendships, and the pressures of adolescence.

Debut writer-director Sonam Nair makes a film that's much like Gippi open-minded, intelligent and brave. While the ending is a bit improbable, overall the film is a merry ride.

The foot-tapping music, rich cinematography and production design add to the fun.

Riya Vij sparkles as Gippi and carries the film on her able shoulders. She makes playing Gippi look effortless, when it's a layered and challenging role. Doorva Tripathi is just as awesome.

Divya Dutta is a delight as the loud and loving single parent. Taaha Shah and Mrinal Chawla as the love interests are superb.

Jayati Modi is earnest and fits the part perfectly. Arbaaz Kandwani (Gippi's brother) is impressive, as is the gang that makes up Gippi's school friends.

For loads of smiles, laughs and a few tears, watch Gippi. The perfect refreshing treat this summer.

Rating: 3.5 stars


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