Badhaai Ho Director  : Intimacy Among Elderly Couples Was My Issue

Intimacy and  not pregnancy regarding women  beyond a certain age , is what  concerned director  Amit Ravindernath Sharmaenough to make Badhaai Ho, a film about a matriarch in Delhi middleclass  family  with two grownup sons who suddenly discovers she is pregnant. The film has swept the  boxoffice.

Says the  director, “I am amazed at the response. I am getting calls from everywhere. A friend called from London while watching  Badhaai Ho . He said  he  felt he  was watching it in Lucknow. The  response  of  the  audience is  so intense and deep, it almost feels as though  every Indian has adopted the film.”

A debate has opened up on  late pregnancy and  Amit is  quick to clarify, “It isn’t as if I’m  counseling couples  to have  children after  the age  of 50. As  it is, there is a huge population  surplus in our country. Why add  to it? What we wanted to say in Badhaai Ho had more to with intimacy among couples beyond the socially permissible age. Why  do we presume that married  couples with grownup  children  never have sex? Well, the  couple in my film did. And  never mind if they couldn’t use a condom because none  was availablewhen they were attracted. The decision to keep the baby was theirs. It  isn’t meant to be an endorsement  of  late pregnancy.”

It is interesting how Neena Gupta  got  the  role of  the impregnated  mother.

“We had gone to Tabuji for  the role. At that  time we had a different script in mind and we wanted Tabu M’aam and Irrfan Sir. When she  heard  the  script she suggested Neenaji’s  name for  her character.Tabu  felt, perhaps rightly, that she  looked like  a woman who can still have a  child. Ayushmann Khurrana who was already on  board, was a  little wary  of Neenaji’s casting. ‘Woh hot Mummy wali feeling aati hai.’ But I am  glad we went with Neenaji.A friend in  Belgium who saw  my film called to say he  saw  my mother(who passed away  prematurely in a car accident) in Neenaji.And  he said the grandmother SurekhaSikri was exactly  like my grandmother.My grandmother was  bazooka. Once she started firing nothing coulf  stop her.”
Late pregnancies are nothing unfamiliar to  Amit Sharma. “My great grandmother and  grandmother were pregnant at the same  time. And my two wonderful co-writers Akshat and Shantanu had seen  the same happening in their family.In  fact they had written the  story for an ad film in 2012 which never got  made.”

Every actor  in  Badhaai Ho seems pre-destined to  play his  or her character, none more so than  the underused Gajraj Raowho plays Neena  Gupta’s husband.

Says Amit Sharma, “Ayushmaann jokingly suggested he should play both the father and son. It was Ayushmann who suggested Gajraj Rao’s name. I knew  him from the time we worked together for Pradeep Sarkar. When he heard the  script  for Badhaai Ho he advised we get a  bigger star  to play the  role since it was a major part. But I insisted on  him. He  agreed. ‘Tu sambhaal lena’, he requested.

Rationalizing the  huge emotional connection that  the film has found among the audience  the  director says, “After  my first  film Tevar  I  wanted to make  a film that  I felt  strongly about.I wanted to make  film about  a late pregnancy. I shared  the idea with  Preeti Shahane of Junglee films, and coincidentally her writer was also working on the same  idea. We decided to merge  our  projects. And though the writing was done entirely by my co-writers  Akshat and Shantanu, we still decided to credit Jyoti Kapoor, the writer selected by  Junglee Films for their film on late pregnancy.”

Says Amit gratefully, “A film turns out well only when  blessed by all involved.We worked with good vibes. We  regretted the  fact that we couldn’t shoot  in  the real apartment in Delhi. But we made sure that set  representing the Kaushiks’ residence  was  authentic. We wanted to be as  honest as  possible.I think that’s what’s been  appreciated the most.”

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