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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Applying to schools and colleges: Here are money lessons one can learn from Irrfan Khan films

Applying to schools and colleges: Here are money lessons one can learn from Irrfan Khan films

Hindi and Angrezi Medium offer valuable lessons to teach us how to navigate the world of education without compromising on our values and expectations.

Money lessons from Irrfan Khan films: Because it’s time for admissions to schools and colleges. (Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash )Premium
Money lessons from Irrfan Khan films: Because it’s time for admissions to schools and colleges. (Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash )

The two films Hindi Medium and Angrezi Medium came to us a little ahead of their time. People appreciated the humour and the sharp social satire, but the reality of the lessons hits you only when you have kids to send to school and/or college.

You’ve heard many people say that education is a business today. And if you have a child who’s ready for play school, you can take lessons offered by the film Hindi Medium (starring the inimitable Irrfan Khan and the beautiful Saba Qamar) that’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

But first, the story: Raj and Meeta Batra want their little girl Pia to get admission in the fancy International school run by Principal Lodha. And they are ready to go to any length to try and make that happen.

Education is business. Do you fit into their ideal parent profile?

Irrfan Khan is Raj Batra, who runs a successful clothing business. He sells sarees, lehengas and more. But his business is located in old Delhi. That’s not posh enough for the school that’s located in South Delhi. His wife as he describes her: My life is Hindi but my wife is English.

Meeta likes branded goods. Raj can provide all that, and he even moves homes, so they can be in the same neighbourhood as the school (for the posh school, a posh address is a must!). He even shells out money for an education consultant who will coach parents for the interview at school. Sounds ridiculous, right? Raj feels the same way. He wonders why he’s wasting money in learning to speak English when it is his child who needs to learn good English because he hasn’t. He says, ‘Ek France banda, German banda speak wrong English, we have no problem. Ek Indian banda say wrong English, banda he bekaar ho jaata hai ji.’

Are you also shelling out your hard earned money on an education consultant who makes ridiculous demands on parents? If you can afford a good education for your child - an education that you may not have been lucky to have had - shouldn’t you be able to explain that to the school principal?

How far will you change your lifestyle to fit in?

Let’s say you have all the money in the world that helps you buy things, just as Raj Batra does, to fit into the profile of the perfect parent. They buy a bungalow, and throw a party for the uppity neighbours who sip champagne and wear pastels. But when your child plays the fun song, won’t you roll up your sleeve and do the massy dance?

When the situation turns, Raj and Meeta even pretend to be poor and shift to a slum to prove to the school that they are economically backward. Of course it backfires, but as Irrfan Khan says, ‘Gareebi mein jeena ek kala hai.’

Life’s ups and downs will keep you on your toes. But if you know how to survive bad days, you would have learnt lessons that will help you better value money.

Make your money work harder. Education will happen, naturally

Your money can buy you things, but don’t lose sight of your values. This is such an important lesson that this film teaches us. Stay true to your values. Irrfan tries to please his wife and attempts to change, but then his sense of right and wrong gets him to argue with the principal. ‘The seat that is meant for an economically backward child, should go to the right kid. My kid should not be getting that seat.’

Principal Lodha (played by Amrita Singh) does have a point when she says that you might be doing that poor child a grave injustice. We may give that kid a seat, but how far will he fit into this fancy school? Will he be able to afford the other expenses? Will he be sidelined by his richer classmates?

Raj and Meeta have a change of heart, and want to sponsor a child at the government school. Their visit to a government school is not just a life lesson, but an eye opener for when you put aside money to do charity work.

Angrezi Medium: The Bansals send their child abroad to study

Consultants who help your child with the paperwork for foreign universities are a great help. But do not trust them blindly. Or you’ll miss out on ridiculous personal essays that read ‘A sudden epiphany pointed me to your esteemed learning institution’…

Irrfan Khan plays Champak bansal in this film, who’s daughter wants nothing more than to study abroad, and as a doting parent he will sell his soul to make that happen. In the film Angrezi Medium, Irrfan Khan teaches us many money lessons that will last you a lifetime.

Does ‘Foreign Education’ matter more than education here?

There is a certain point of view that says graduates from foreign universities earn more. That may be. But you cannot keep a good man down, can they?

Initially, Irrfan Khan does not want his daughter to go abroad to study. She’s too young, the world outside is big and bad, she’s never stayed away from home… he has many excuses to keep her at home. ‘Bharat ko angrezon se azaadi lene mein 200 saal lage the ...Tu 18 tak toh ruk hi sakti hai.’

But the daughter is determined, and he gives in, even though he knows that the kids tend to overdo things the moment they are away from a controlled environment. We do see Radhika Madan, who plays Irrfan Khan’s daughter, get into precarious situations, so his suspicions are valid. It takes a while to get used to the way things work abroad.

When sending children abroad, make sure they are taken care of. Don’t indulge them, but then don’t make them suffer either. Remember, you must calculate the money they would need to survive (check the prices of simple things like groceries etc in the city in which they are going to live).

Remember that your kids who have been brought up with a little bit more privilege than you ever had (Read: they don’t do household chores because you have domestic help), will suddenly go abroad and wash cars or do dishes at a restaurant because you believe you are teaching them survival skills. You are sending kids to study, not to break their spirit.

It’s that time of the year! Good luck with admissions!

Exam results are out. Whether your children have taken the civil services exams or high school ones. Remember that you have to learn kindness first. Maybe you grew up being compared to ‘Sharmaji ka beta’, but there’s no need to subject your child to the same illogic.

Yes, you invested your hard earned money in giving your children the best education that you can afford. But learn to temper your expectations. Become the counsellor that your child needs to take that next step to further education, and not just the wallet who pays the fee. Be the wind beneath their wings!

Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.


Key lessons from 'The Psychology of Money'. 
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Key lessons from 'The Psychology of Money'. 

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Published: 27 May 2023, 12:15 PM IST
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