Banners: Junglee Pictures, Chrome Pictures
Producers: Vineet Jain, Aleya Sen, Hemant Bhandari, Amit Ravindernath Sharma
Director: Amit Ravindernath Sharma
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra, Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta, Surekha Sikri, Shardul Rana, Sheeba Chaddha
Writers: Shantanu Srivastava, Akshat Ghildial (Story), Akshat Ghildial (Screenplay and Dialogues)
Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Rochak Kohli, Kaushik-Akash-Guddu (JAM8), Sunny Bawra-Inder Bawra
Director Amit Ravindernath Sharma’s Badhaai Ho is a like a canvas of simple yet beautiful moments put together. This is one of those rare social dramedies that is bereft of high-octane melodrama and preachy sequences. It is extremely real, rooted and hits home immediately. Although we have seen several slice-of-life films set in the nooks of Delhi in the recent past, Badhaai Ho manages to stand out. This is largely due to the writing and the way the film has been presented.
Sharma begins this gratifying journey by establishing the members of the middle-class Kaushik family, who reside in Delhi’s Lodhi Colony. We meet the middle-aged, frugal patriarch of the family, Jeetendra Kaushik, who is a ticket collector in Northern Railway. He brings a box of mangoes as a gift for his beloved family when he returns home, which his wife and mother happily feast on. This instantly sets the tone of the film.
Kaushik’s elder son, Nakul, works at a corporate firm and is in a relationship with his colleague, Renee, who lives in a plush locality in the city. Nakul’s younger brother, Gular, is accused of being a spoilt brat by his mother and grandmother. Amma, the grandmother, has dedicated her days to satsang and is constantly chanting with beads. Priyamvada, Nakul and Gular’s mother, is a doting homemaker, who shares a bitter-sweet relationship with her mother-in-law.
Things go well for the Kaushik family until, one day, Priyamvada finds out that she is pregnant, thanks to a cozy monsoon night embellished with thunder and lightning. The news spreads like wildfire in the neighbourhood and their extended family, with the result that the couple is mocked. The sons, shocked and embarrassed, begin to distance themselves from their parents. Badhaai Ho explores the stigma attached to old-age pregnancy and tries to crush it by lacing the theme with light-hearted humour.
One of the many reasons the film deserves applause is the core idea around which the narrative is woven. For starters, the idea is fresh and this helps the rest of the film. For a plot-driven film like Badhaai Ho, the characters are very well fleshed out. For a film that is set in a certain milieu, the characters are not reduced to caricatures. Each of them adds substance to the narrative. What works really well is that they are flawed people. The Kaushiks are not Bollywood’s quintessential sugar-coated, always-happy family and they are not apologetic about it.
Also, the film benefits from crisp editing. The narrative does not lose pace, even once. Abhishek Arora’s background score deserves a special mention. The suspenseful music that plays in the background during the scene that sets the film rolling is superb. The songs, however, are forgettable even though Sajan bade senti and Morni banke are gorgeously picturised.
Badhaai Ho is a lot like life. While some scenes will send you into peals of laughter, some of them will make you tearful. In the end, you will be grinning. That is because Sharma’s treatment of the subject is delightful. Akshat Ghildial’s dialogue is rib-tickling. The scenes between Nakul and Gular on the rooftop, and Priyamvada and Amma, tug at the heartstrings. In one scene, the angry and distraught Nakul is seen drinking with Yeh kya hua playing in the background. It renders hilarity to an otherwise solemn scene. This is only one of many such scenes.
Performance-wise, this delightful film is bolstered by top-notch performances by the lead cast and the supporting cast, in particular. Ayushmann Khurrana as Nakul is earnest and effortless. He showcases vulnerability and restraint with incredible ease. His comic timing is impressive. Needless to say, he is one of the most malleable actors in the industry. This is yet another feather in his cap.
Sanya Malhotra, who plays an urban girl for the first time, delivers a scintillating performance. While her Renee has shorter screen time, she holds her own. But the film really belongs to Gajraj Rao, who plays Jeetendra, and Neena Gupta, who essays the role of Priyamvada. They belt out one of their careers’ best performances even as they play the couple-next-door with amazing credibility. They sink into their characters and the dialect with aplomb. In the emotionally heavier scenes, they will melt your heart. They share an endearing chemistry, which is evident in the song, Sajan bade senti.
The actor who takes the cake home is Surekha Sikri. Her Amma is forthright, brutal, hilarious and endearing. In some scenes, she lets her expressions do all the talking. She perfectly grasps the dialect and body language of an elderly lady, from a middle-class Delhi locality. While she appears regressive in the first half, she turns the tables eventually and breezes through the film as a lovable character. The dark horse of Badhaai Ho is Shardul Rana, who plays Gular. As the carefree younger son of the family, he delivers an impressive act. Some of the funniest lines in the film belong to him. Sheeba Chaddha as Renee’s mother is convincing.
Verdict: A sure-shot winner!