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The new movie Badhaai Ho wins hearts with its humorous approach towards important issues. It is critical and equally fun at the same time.
We have heard several times, why must all serious things be said with all seriousness? ‘Badhaai Ho,’ twists this on its head, and lets you laugh, cry and think through some many pertinent questions. That is where it wins, albeit with a few slips here and there, that is well, easy enough to ignore.
Amit Sharma’s film is all Delhi. He gets the simplicity, innocence still alive, tucked in corners of this city, with the last generation it will probably end with. Little joys, eccentricities and a whole lot of madness, the film keeps you engaged, with its palpable energy, incredible command over language and the bravado that men here are accustomed to, born with and guard with utmost ferocity. Delhi itself is a character, that is unmissable.
Critical questions like the idea of desire after years of marriage, at an age where we expect to pedestalize our parents just because that’s what they are, the need to look beyond that identity, toxic masculinity, and the possessiveness we feel for them are beautiful key tenets of the film. Ayushmaan Khurana again picks a film where the film itself is bigger than him. The ensemble never misses a note, and you live through a family’s predicament of parents having a baby, while already being parents to young sons, one of them a working adult.
Before I go further, the heroes of the film, are Neena Gupta, Surekha Sikri, Gajraj Rao and the subject itself. Every time they come on screen you realise how grossly under-utilised they are as actors. Surekha Sikri is fantastic as the honest, sharp and no-nonsense dadi, the proverbial authority of the home. Neena Gupta’s balming, soothing, understated turn as an ageing woman who is pregnant is just a plain delight to watch. Her body, mannerisms, walk, eyes, gaze, voice all speak volumes of her grip on the character, and massively under-utilised talent. Never a false note, never a missed emotion. After Mulk, and now Badhaai Ho, I can’t wait to see what she does next, and so grateful to Amit Sharma for casting her.
Gajraj Rao, as the father, is sublime. His affection for his wife, love for his mother and children, a softness that keeps the family together, restraint when he is hurt, and the soft underplay of masculinity are moments that elevate this film like no other. Sheebha Chaddha, the formidable actress that she is, aces this with the right silences, just the right caress in her voice, and the perfect enunciations. Sanya Malhotra is a find. After Dangal, Pataakha and now this, she is proving her mettle again and again. You can imagine no one else in these roles.
Back to the writing. Akshat Ghildial gets the nuances near perfect. Marrying a plot like this to the idiosyncrasies of a typical middle-class household in India, could not have been easy. He gets the travails of each character, their reactions, their own journey with the reality almost perfect. The film doesn’t apologize or seek shortcuts for its choice of subject. The sub-narratives has been woven into the larger storyline with veritable ease and makes the viewer go through the journeys. Mostly to introspect on own set patterns and ideologies, of how we see our own lives and lives of those surrounding us. The film raises these questions without taking itself too seriously. A special shout out for the language in the film. The lehza is perfect, and you do feel you are sitting in the home of this family, with just the right tones of delivery and enunciation.
The film reveals the affection with which it has been made. The set designs, cinematography, car, costumes, casting – each collaborates to set the right mood, and the right context.
As a feminist writer, I can easily say, that it is films like these that matter. They insist on re-examining definitions we live with and normalize the conversation on desire and gender. The humour is disarming, and that’s how it makes it more palatable for the audience to ask these pertinent questions for themselves. I do wish toxic masculinity would’ve seen its closure, and I will refrain from giving away the scene I mean this in the context of. But you’ll see it when you watch the film. The film could’ve well done without this referencing, and nothing would’ve taken from it.
Watch Badhaai Ho, then return and think. Think about how we box people in relationships, stifling them to live. Think about what we teach our men. Think about the last time you had a conversation with your mother, and how healing it felt. And then alter how we behave, one little smile, hug at a time.
Image Source – Stills from the movie
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Saumya Baijal, is a writer in both English and Hindi. Her stories, poems and articles
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