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Badhaai Ho with a love story of a couple in their early fifties is an entertainer with brains and soul. Its humour makes you laugh rather than cringe, unlike the double entrende that usually passes for humour.
A decade and a half ago, a movie named Baghban was released, it went on to become one of the biggest hits of the year. Don’t worry I am not going to talk about the rightful sanskars and the vilification campaign it launched against the present generation, for the lack of the same. But this is about that aspect of the movie over which a good lot of people had chosen to laugh at, during the time of its release – the romance between a couple in their fifties. To me, that is the only beautiful aspect of the movie, after watching it n number of times over the years.
Though the romance was presented in albeit filmy Bollywood style, it was still refreshing to see a couple even after all these years believing in keeping the spark alive in their marriage. It’s an essential and vital element of any marriage. But like many other strange anomalies that our society processes, scorning upon romance in a marriage especially among elderly couples is one of them. The standard response to the beautiful romantic moments on screen between the lead pair in the movie was “Budha-buddhi ka romance, what nonsense.”
Sadly, the perspective hasn’t changed even after all these years, but this lovely movie I watched over the weekend, did instill a ray of hope that there are filmmakers in mainstream Bollywood, ready to question societal perceptions. And at the same time leave you with characters and a narrative which bring a smile on your face.
The movie I am talking about is Badhai Ho. The most refreshing aspect about the movie is its presentation. It’s among those rare Bollywood movies, which doesn’t boast about stars but features actors who are a delight to watch. Be it the actors or the locations featured, they are real and relatable. The story is based in Delhi but those characters could be just anybody, your next-door neighbors or the family’s favorite relative, yet they are unique.
For a change you have the actors looking relatable as well (read like real people). The mother who is in her early fifties looks her age, the true Bollywood style – she has not been made to look prim and perfect. The technical aspects aside, it’s the story which is the actual attraction of this movie. Not a very revolutionary or radical tale, but albeit definitely inducing you to think and calling out society’s hypocrisy. To sum it up in a line, it is a simple tale, with a strong message delivered in its own unique way.
The story is of a middle-aged couple, who are parents to a son in his twenties and another in his teens. They live normal middle-class lives. Everything in their world is usual, till one day they learn of their accidental pregnancy. Their children refuse to accept this news and scorn them, while the matriarch of the family is aghast. They become a laughing stock among their relatives and neighbors. All this because this isn’t the acceptable behavior from an aged couple.
Our society believes after a certain age couples should maintain a distance and just focus on their children and families. But coming to think of it, is our society acceptable of romance in the stage of a marriage? Nothing better can be expected of a society which scorns at couples holding hands in a public place. As the story progresses, it addresses the weird notion of society’s standard of acceptable behaviour in its own quirky way. In a society where still for large sections marriage is just a social obligation, where factors like compatibility and love are frivolous aspects, to accept that intimacy and romance are essential ingredients of a marriage is extremely difficult. In a situation like this humour is aptly used to get the message across.
Renee tells her boyfriend Nakul, who is just not ready to accept that his parents still share a romantic bond “So in case we get married, once we turn 40, will we only be discussing our children’s academics. Ghar main Floyd nahi, sirf Anu Jalota bajega?” This witty sarcasm sums it all up. When a couple gets middle-aged, they are just expected to distance themselves from each other, behave like two individuals living under the same roof. Be the perfect parents, but forget the essential root of their relationship, embrace celibacy and snap of all emotional bonding whether they like it or not. That explains the reason, why we have so many couples who feel lonely and bitter in their retired lives. Because at that age, they just have each other for company and by that time they have successfully managed to distance themselves from each other to abide by societal standards.
The same lady goes on to say, “don’t put your mom on a pedestal and later vilify her for falling below your expected standards, she is a human with her own needs and desires.” So true, in our quest for worshipping women have we not already strangulated the dreams and desires of generations of women. Let’s just treat them as normal humans and let them live. The best part of the movie was the dadi. For all those of us who believed outspoken women where a creation of the modern times, this character comes across as a shocking revelation. She does not care a hoot about expressing her mind. Though in the initial parts of the movie, she comes across as typical mother-in-law who always has a fault to find with her daughter in law, its in the climax that she shocks, with her no words minced retort to support her daughter in law. The one line in her speech stands out “ek saath, ek thaali main khane se bache nahi hote.” We have the dubious distinction of being the second most populous nation in the World, but when it comes to intimacy in a marriage, its either scorned upon or talked about in hushed whispers.
The movie boasts of commendable performances by some brilliant actors including Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao, Surekha Sikri, and Ayushman Khurrana. Saanya Malhotra is a refreshing performer and is definitely a newcomer to watch out for. The songs in this film are not forced in, rather they gel with the narrative. The music is soothing on the ears and not mere noise.
A serious issue, interspersed with everyday humour, keeps you entertained and drives its intended message home effectively. You have a love story of a couple in their early fifties, which looks adorable and relatable sans any filmy clichés. But there was just one aspect of the movie which bothered me. In this age of awareness, would a couple be negligent enough to not consider precautionary measures? Pregnancy at an advanced age has its perils, which by no means is an advisable move. But I guess, this has been addressed by the director in his own unique way, when the mother-in-law tells her son in the last scene “ab tub hi operation karva le.”
A Big Badhai Ho to Amit Ravindranath Sharma, the director, and his whole team for coming up with an entertainer with brains and a soul. A movie which makes you laugh and also introspect. For a change, you have humour which actually makes you laugh and not cringe with double meaning. So, if you are seeking a dose of entertainment which is fun and not insane, then this movie is definitely for you. If you are an Ayushman Khurrana fan, this is definitely not to be missed.
Image Source – Still from the movie Badhaai Ho
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