Synopsis – A man faces embarrassment in the society when he finds out his mother is pregnant
My Take – What a year it has been for Bollywood! With content-driven scripts finally succeeding over star power or nepotism driven campaigns, it’s good to see the Hindi going audience finally waking up. It is also quite welcoming to see how new filmmakers are given opportunities to explore ideas which were once kept under wraps with the fear of immediate rejection at the box office. But with a support of fine actors like Ayushmann Khurrana and Irrfan Khan among others, who unlike bigger A-listed actors are ready to put their value on the line, films with unorthodox concepts are finally being made.
This film from director Amit Ravindernath Sharma (Tevar) is one such film that manages to a part of the change as well as manages to keep its promise to entertain you thoroughly. While most filmmakers believe that a comedy film cannot succeed without the help of vulgar jokes and sexual innuendos, this film mixes both comedy and emotions to keep it all clean and refreshing despite its taboo subject.
The story follows Nakul Kaushik (Ayushmann Khurrana), a regular Delhi-based young man, belonging to a middle class family. Contend with life due to his promising career and marriage on cards with Renee (Sanya Malhotra), his colleague/ girlfriend, Nakul seems to be taking in everything well as it comes. However, his peaceful life goes for toss when his father, Jitendra Kaushik (Gajraj Rao), a close to retirement TT in the Indian Railways, informs him that his mother, Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) is pregnant. Of course, this is shocking news for the other members of his house, including his grandmother (Surekha Sikri) and his younger brother Gular (Shardul Rana), and with no knowledge of how they can cope with relatives and neighbors about this news.
Of course, due to this pregnancy at an older age, the Kaushik Family becomes a joke everywhere. But what’s worse, is that Renee’s rich mother (Sheeba Chadda), who initially had no issue with Nakul belonging to a middle class family, refuses to let her only daughter suffer from this embarrassment and future responsibilities. With each relationship turning towards the uglier side, the family must work to figure out a way to come to terms for the sake of the unborn child.
The film falls in the same genre as Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Hindi Medium, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Tumhari Sullu. Each of these classics, deal with middle class families, with uncommon issues, standing up tall (with strong family support), amidst a cruel, insensitive society. Skillfully written and balanced, the film is centralized around an issue that’s unusual but normal at the same time and goes way beyond the expectations. Here, writers Shantanu Srivastava, Jyoti Kapoor and Akshat Ghildial and director Amit Ravindernath Sharma excellently cover the extent of Indian hypocrisy around sex and how people deal with it by depicts two stories in a small-town love-and-vengeance concoction.
First one is of Nakul’s parents who have landed themselves in big trouble because of Priyamvada’s pregnancy and another one of Nakul and Renee, who are on the verge of splitting up because of the arising situations and related consequences. Each character has been detailed to bits, be it the savage Grandma who doesn’t hesitate in stating the truth or the son who is constantly in a tussle between his family and social life. There’s not a single dull moment in the film. Also the dilemma and the aftermath of the decision to go ahead with pregnancy has been beautifully handled here. The more you gush at the weirdness of the situation, the more you mush at the way how the lovingly charming couple stand by each other, communicate a lot with their eyes and even physically stick to each other, always.
I enjoyed the fact that while the story intended to bring out a social message, it was not in your face. Behind all the entertainment is a subtle portrayal of a repressive society. With small instances where only the woman is being blamed for the pregnancy or people openly share information and gossip about someone’s private life but look down upon the most basic and natural phenomenon. And the script was backed with some brilliant dialogues which takes the film a notch higher. At the heart of it, the film has a strong underlying message that no matter how big a mess you have landed into, if you have a strong family support system, everything will work out well.
The scenes after the baby is born, or when the boys patch up with their parents or the fight back scenes, each speak aloud of the importance of family bonding and you just can’t hold back moist eyes, seeing the family stand together. Everyone loves each other, everyone wants to do the right thing, and everyone is there for each other.
However, I did feel the second half felt a bit short. While the first half was packed with humor whereas the second half takes a little time to pick pace. While we get to see the drama between Nakul, Renee and Renee’s mother unfold, there is could have been a little more life in the wedding drama. I also wanted to see more depth in Nakul and Renee’s relationship to associate with their sudden decision feel sorry for their broken relationship.
Nevertheless, the film earns extra brownies for its performances. Led by Ayushmann Khurrana, who is once again excellent as a very relatable character and nails it with his perfect timing and priceless expressions. Sanya Malhotra also plays her part well and is quite charming. But without a doubt this film is held together by Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta’s earnest performances. Gupta shows the vulnerabilities of her character with so much conviction that it’s hard to take your eyes off her, while Rao only adds polish to their great act. Some of the most hilarious scenes come from Surekha Sikri, while Shardul Rana puts up a sincere act, so does Sheeba Chabbha. On the whole, ‘Badhaai Ho’ is a heartwarming entertainer which manages to keep you engaged with its comical act and progressive message.
Directed – Amit Ravindernath Sharma
Rated – PG15
Run Time – 124 minutes