After a brief while, the cinemas are officially functioning again after the Omicron scare. Yes, there were films like Zombivali which did release but the new Hindi film Badhaai Do officially kickstarts the cinemas with a string of new releases to follow. And I happened to drop by and watch Badhaai Ho at a theatre near me. It isn’t actually a second in the Badhaai Ho series nor does it seem like a franchise considering that the stories are completely different. After watching its trailer I had low expectations from it considering the fact that this seemed like a formulaic film about the LGBTQ community which has often been misrepresented in a Bollywood film. Either they are portrayed as caricatures or just sex starved beings, both of which aren’t true. No better occasion than Valentine’s Day to say that no matter what the sexual orientation of a person, love doesn’t differentiate and is the same for everyone. That said, is Badhaai Do worth your trip to the theatre, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Badhaai Do follows the story of a homosexual man and woman who decide to get married following some pressure from their respective families who are oblivious to their reality. The story is decent and not entirely novel. But it is the screenplay which is a delightful surprise. Firstly, the marketing team of this film need to be held up for a poorly cut promo that just devalues the film. The promo seemed like another one of those small town comedies veiled in a social issue. But no the situations are so much more real here. There is considerable effort made to keep things real. The soft landing really helps put across the point quite well here. The talks are real and represent the real world. The only thing which I did not appreciate was the comic elements but that was purely from the standpoint of the makers introducing it to lure the masses. The amount of hate which I got for my review of Gehraiyaan was unprecedented. Some people were dismissing the film without even watching it but still ensuring they form opinions about the film. This has made me realise that the Indian audience may not be matured enough to consume content outside their own beliefs. And so the makers have to resort to the comic elements to compensate for the delicate drama at hand. But the brighter spot is that atleast there is a conversation being made!
The film slightly stutters in the middle after a good start but the writers quickly get the script back on track. This includes one of the more effective final acts from films in a similar genre. The usual monologue about how we should be open to everyone in our society is missing. Instead, the entire sequence is presented in such a way that it is less preachy and more reflective for the society. Quite a brilliant final act this!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are filled with comic elements which keep you entertained and invested throughout. The delicate representation of the LGBTQ community along with the issues which they face are well handled through the dialogues. The music is underrated here and it definitely deserves a playlist of its own. Some of the songs are moving and would get the weak hearted emotional. The BGM is good. Director Harshavardhan Kulkarni has done a tremendous job with this sensitive subject. The gentleness with which he handles this subject is pretty heartening and his direction deserves the highest applause.
The performances are incredibly good! Loveleen Mishra and Nitish Pandey are excellent particularly the latter in a moving final act. Seema Pahwa and Sheeba Chadha are two veterans that have the ability to mix with the subject at hand so well. Both of them are astoundingly brilliant. Gulshan Devaiah shines in a heartfelt cameo. Chum Darang as Rhimjhim for me is the find of the series. Not only does she look pretty but she is effortless and almost brought a smile on my face every single time she came onscreen. I really wish to watch more of her in future. Bhumi Pednekar as Suman is astoundingly brilliant and she really is a natural onscreen. But it us Rajkummar Rao as Shardul Thakur(not the cricketer) who is absolutely fantastic here. This was a genre made popular by Ayushmann Khurana but it is Rajkummar Rao and his impeccable craft that has scored here. He adds a layer of sensitivity and emotes so well particularly in the pre-climax. This was truly a performance that stayed with me long after the film had ended!
Badhaai Do is a pleasant and a delightful surprise which may have sadly drowned in the Gehraiyaan wave. Well worth your time and available in a theatre near you.