Badhaai Ho Movie Review: It Is A Rare Precious Dramedy!

Badhaai Ho

Starring  Gajaraj Rao, Neena Gupta, Ayushmaan  Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra, Surekha Sikri

Directed  by Amit Ravindernath Sharma

Rating; **** ½(4 and a half stars)

   Stop right now and  do yourself a  favour. Go see Badhaai Ho. You will come out  smling but also deeply moved by the  artless charm of that great big universe known as  the  Indian Muddle Class, and I  do mean ‘muddle’ where  so many contradictory  cultural,religious and political forces co-exist  uneasily and yet  without friction.

 Some such controlled chaos defines  the  world that  the Kaushik family inhabits with such fluent ownership. We’ve seen  an abundance of commendable comedies on the Delhi’s confounded middleclass such as  Dibakar Bannerjee’s  Khosla Ka Ghoslaand  Habib Faisal’s  Do Dooni Chaar. But none so delectably oblivious of its responsibilities  of pinning down the characters  to their cultural canvas.

 We meet the family….rather we  run into them as  though  their existence  does not depend  on our attention. This  is  the hallmark of  above-ordinary cinema. The characters  must seem to exist from long before the camera was switched on. I don’t think the Kaushik family knows  or cares about Sanu Vargghese’s ruminative  camera work.

Gajraj Rao, an actor of enormous skills I never had the  chance to take so  seriously  until now, plays the  patriarch with a problem. He  has  just impregnated  his wife (Neena  Gupta,  restrained and effective)  at an age when  parents are supposed to  be celibates.  Elder son Nakul(Ayushmann Khurrana ,owning the sexually challenged middleclass space) can’t take the  jibes and  snide remarks from friends and has  a massive showdown with his girlfriend’s  elitist mother(Sheeba Chadha, so  in-control that I forgot she was acting).

 Then there  is  the  family’s grandmother played by the  firebrand Surekha Sikri who  lights up every moment of her  screen-time like a 4-year old who has just discovered  the joys of playing with fire.

This is exactly what director Amit Sharma and  his writers Shantanu Shrivastava, Akshay Gildial and  Jyoti Kapoor seem to be  doing in this  film. The  risk of  turning a  story on belated  pregnancy into a farce or peachy(like B R Ishara  Kaagaz KiNao)  looms large over this exceptionally unconventional comedy.

The director swerves  the  plot  neatly away from all innuendo  to capture with  sullen satire a family coping with an  unexpectedly outrageous  crisis.

Badhaai Ho is  a work of wondrous  writing and  incredible acting. Both aspects  of the film are so unassuming in their  impact that the untrained eye may miss the skills that go into scripting and performing  a  film that questions our collective hypocrisy when we  are scandalized  by  the  thought  of our parents having sex.

In this film the narrative is supremely self-satisfied  though never smug. The  characters  do not mouth lines that they ought to.Rather they say what they have to say when and  if they want to. In  a sequence after sex,  Ayushmann asks his girlfriend (Sanya Malhotra), “Is this something parents should be doing.

He gets his answer sooner rather than  later. By the time Ayushmann’s Nakul  gets the answer , we are completely and  unconditionally immersed  in the goings-on ,  our heart reaching out to the  family as it  comes to terms with the fact that the parents  are not  morally wrong in producing a  child at an age when they should be grandparents.

Badhaai Ho is  treasurehouse of commendable  performances.When  Gajraj Rao bursts into ‘Babu’ English with his son’s girlfriend I chuckled at the  linguistic pretension of all the patriarchs of  the word who equate  the English  language with  upward  mobility. Early on I decided  this film qualified  as a masterpiece for its  solid robust grip over the  workingclass’ anxieties.Towards the  end when Neena Gupta’s  character skips  the baby shower and  goes straight to  labour , I felt  I was  a part of the Kaushik family. When the family younger son Gullar(Shardul Rana) bursts into on seeing his  newly-born baby sister I wanted to comfort him.

To tell him  it’s okay. I understand.

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