Bollywood is replete with examples where a novel idea is conceptualised at the start but loses the plot when substance is discarded in lieu of gimmicks or forced comedy. Badrinath ki Dulhania is a prime example of such a well intentioned yet badly executed movie purporting to be a social commentary. I’m sure when the draft was being prepared for the movie, the director’s vision was to replicate a Queen or a Tanu Weds Manu, but as the development took shape, the vision waned a little and what we ended up getting was a half baked comedy drama which never quite reaches the potential it promised to achieve.
Badrinath ki Dulhania talks about the girl child, the dowry system and the ever present patriarchy, specially in small towns. As an audience, we love the build up and expect a modern take on the issues with a final act which will jolt us, but what we get in the end is a drunk squabble and an abrupt closure. Oh, and did we mention the cringeworthy scenes just after the interval where a girl is driven around Singapore inside the bonnet of a car and her reaction after being released is “Kya hua tumhe Badri? (what has happened to you Badri) because of course, it has to be about the fluctuating mood of the hero and not the girl. This is swiftly followed by a conversation where the guy is defending his stalking and outright harassment with statements in the lines of “You had said No so many times, why didn’t you say it one more time!” Ummm…is there an universally acceptable number of Nos that a girl needs to say before the guy gets the hint?? Sequences like these take the sheen out of the movie which otherwise is easy on the eye.
Varun Dhawan is earnest as the eponymous character and shines through the entire movie. But he gets a muddled script with inconsistent sequences to work with. He is particularly likeable in the first half as he does the goofy yet golden hearted small city guy act with a charm which has made him one of the most bankable stars of Bollywood. But the second half starts with a cringe. This isn’t a sequel to the 2014 Humpty Sharma ki Dulhaniya, but the movie takes the similar route and a sense of deja vu pervades throughout. What changes is the intent and a forced turn at making it a social documentary.
Director Shashank Khaitan is culpable for trying to force feed emotions and random complications in his second outing as a director after Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania in 2014. Second installments in Bollywood have this added burden of being grander than the previous one. Honest comedies like Dhamaal, Golmaal etc have been royally ruined by this fetish for the ‘Bigger’. I will not call this a failure, but just an average movie which had immense potential to entertain and educate. And when movies tend to leave us wanting more, the disappointment shows on our faces.
Alia Bhatt plays the small city girl with dreams in her eyes and nails the performance. The audience, along with her, feels irritated when Badri pursues her incessantly despite her clear communication to him. But then again, the director had a movie to make and so, tried to make stalking look cool and intentions look innocent. This is where the script falters big time. The hero of the film behaves as the villain in few of the segments and there, we as an audience lose our respect for the love which is the central theme.
Not a debacle by any means, but a whole lot of ‘I wish!’ moments fill this movie. We just hope Shashank Khaitan will only grow better from here and will steer away from the lure of including too much material in a 2 hour movie.
gobblpoint: First half is decent with few good laughs to be had. You can watch this if Logan is already ticked off from your to-watch list.