Bollywood is going through a paradigm shift when it comes to how they view profit-making content productions. Earlier, a movie set in the hinterlands, with a middle-class family being the focal point would at best be a sleeper success. Not now! We now have movies using the attributes of a city to add relatability to a story. So, the atypical has become the norm and scripts are talking about society in general and not just being formulaic where a check-list needs to be covered as per the producer’s dictum.
And this change has given us the superstar of the masses, the guy next door, champion of progressive cinema, Ayushmann Khurrana. Within half a decade, he has carved a niche so strong that his name on the credit list draws huge weekend crowds. The credit of which lies both with his acting prowess and his sense of judgement about the content. His movies have this earthy, homely feeling which talk about real issues. Badhaai Ho is another such glorious example of a movie which weaves its story around the societal fabric, yet touches upon something which is still almost an anathema, old-age intimacy. And like many other movies which deal with similar ‘taboo’ issues, the director Amit Ravindernath Sharma uses humour to make things light. From Vicky Donor to Shubh Mangal Savdhan and now Badhaai Ho, the stories have worked well with the masses because the narration involved plebeians and the locations are the dusty lanes of northern India and not some swanky school from a Karan Johar movie.
Badhaai Ho is set in New Delhi where a middle class family is suddenly jolted by the news of a pregnancy. This premise is established in the trailer itself but the movie explores the innate shame which the society has taught us to feel for something as ‘odd’ as this and how the family comes to terms with it. Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao as the parents are charming and the movie explores their love and occasional flirting in few short yet sweet sequences. Director Amit Sharma makes it a point to establish the romance between the parents which is generally lost amongst the myriad of responsibilities burdened on parents after having kids. We all acknowledge our parent’s love, but as the movie rightly points out, we place them in such a high pedestal that anything venereal involving them is a strict no. Ayushmann plays their son Nakul who is in a steady relationship with Renee (Sanya Malhotra). He is mostly annoyed in the first half due to the sudden turn of events at his house. Only in the second half do we see the matured, bolder version of Nakul, one who stands up for his family even if his actions might have consequences.
The highlight of the movie is a fantastically traditional yet virtuous Dadi played by Surekha Sikri (Dadisa in Balika Vadhu). She is initially insular, but the second half of the film brings out her righteousness and warm heart, specially in a delightful sequence involving her daughter-in-laws. Sanya is very easy on the eye and after the blockbuster Dangal and the recent Pataakha, has slowly started to make her mark in topical movies. A bevy of girls are taking on relatable roles in Bollywood and carving a niche for themselves. Bhumi Pednekar, Radhika Apte have already become stars in their own rights in such topical cinema.
Badhaai Ho is a lovely entertainer with a message. Ayushmann Khuranna, with his stardom and a keen eye for such topics has made sure that this movie gets the audience it deserves. Go watch it!