Junglee Pictures & Chrome Pictures present “Badhaai Ho”
Produced by: Vineet Jain, Aleya Sen, Amit Ravindernath Sharma & Hemant Bhandari
Directed by: Amit Ravindernath Sharma
Written by: Jyoti Kapoor, Shantanu Srivastava & Akshat Ghildial
Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Panjabi MC, Rochak Kohli, Jam 8 (Akash-Guddu-Kaushik) & Sunny Bawra-Inder Bawra
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra, Neena Gupta, Surekha Sikri, Gajraj Rao, Shardul Rana, Rahul Tiwari, Sheeba Chadha, Vimi Mehta & others
Very few films manage to take up a serious issue and tackle it with the perfect mix of humor and emotions. This year, we have had movies like “102 Not out,” “Stree” and a few more in that zone, and the promos of “Badhaai Ho” made us wonder whether the humor-filled film will do justice to the seriousness and social angles of a couple that is expecting a child when they have a working son of marriageable age and another in high school.
However, to our delight, the film works big time in the second matter as well and is not just a comedy. In fact, the chief weapon of “Badhaai Ho” is that it teaches us that an older couple has the right to be physically close and that if such accidents, so to speak, happen, they also have the right to decide whether, emotionally, health-wise and financially, they want to go ahead and taste parenthood again.
Director Sharma also gets his true break here after the ill-conceived “Tevar” (2015), a home production of its hero Arjun Kapoor, who coincidentally stars in the week’s other release, “Namaste England,” which is likely to have a contrasting fate vis-à-vis this delightful comedy. Sharma demonstrates his true talent here; no doubt curtailed for various reasons in his debut. Casting director Jogi must be especially lauded for inspired choices in performers for this wonderful, slice-of-life entertainer that is not a whit preachy, pedantic and, most vitally, boring.
Yes, there are points in the first half in which we feel that the film is going to have a dull progression, and the interval also comes at a non-dramatic point. But the second half becomes so entertaining that I, at one point, did not want it to end for a while! However, the director has chosen to keep the film crisp and concise and make the whole proceedings lively but also lifelike!
Brothers Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) and Gullar Kaushik (Shardul Rana) are respectively working as an exec and studying in high school in Delhi. Their father, Jeetendra Kaushik (Gajraj Rao) recites his newly-published poem excitedly to wife Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) at bedtime one stormy night, and one thing leads to another. When his wife suddenly becomes unwell and fatigued later, a medical opinion confirms pregnancy. Feisty mother-in-law (Surekha Sikri) and the sons react totally adversely. Nakul’s colleague and love interest Renee (Sanya Malhotra) is pretty cool when she hears the news, and in fact, warns Nakul that if he is planning to became unromantic in old age, she would prefer to call it quits now!
However, complications do set in at a social level. The boys, in shame, refuse to attend their cousin’s wedding that is out of town. Their relatives and friends mock the entire family there and in Delhi. What happens next?
And this ‘what happens’ is where the writers and director score highest. How the mother-in-law turns around is easily the best sequence in the film and placed brilliantly. How the two sons also realize that they are being overtly society-conscious is also very realistically done. A lover’s tiff caused indirectly by the pregnancy also leads to a quick and very ‘real’ patch-up. And needless to gurgle, there is a happy ending.
Sharma and the writers, having given superb roles to their artistes, get great performances in reciprocation. Stunning portrayals by Sikri as the blunt old dowager, Gajraj Rao as the oh-so-cutely-lovable father at 50 and Neena Gupta underplaying the pregnant mother, facing all the brickbats, and yet being stoutly rigid about going ahead with her pregnancy, are the true lead artistes of this film.
And if they are all surpassingly brilliant, Khurrana and Rana give them ample and perfect support, Khurrana once again showing his sagacity in choosing perfect assignments. Sanya Malhotra as his ladylove is tops, given her sketchy role. The rest of the cast all do well.
But for the title-track, which is so apt in its cute quotient, the rest of the Punjabi-heavy songs seem out-of-place in a Hindi film, even one based in Delhi. As compensation, the fabulous art direction by Ratheesh UK, the costumes by Kirti Kolwankar and Maria Tharakan (all so lifelike!), Sanu George Verghese’s camerawork and even the easily-understandable Delhi Hindi written by Akshat Ghildial help serve the complete Delhi flavor. Abhishek Arora’s background score, acoustic, with an old-world flavor and very evocatively used, id another highlight in this quasi-masterpiece.
Savor this deliciously tangy, homespun Delhi chat then served with an extra dollop of sweet cinematic chutney.