All set to battle outrageously hypocritical cultural norms, Badhaai Ho is a peculiar coming-of-age film about how a young man and his not-so-young parents try to hide their embarrassment of an unplanned pregnancy. Starring Ayushmann Khurrana as its male protagonist, the 25-year-old Nakul, the movie sets about, exploring the various layers of the reaction to the news of Nakul’s mother, Priyamvada expecting a child.
Before the news could even leave the confinements of the family, it causes a huge uproar within the small household. The movie then unfolds as the news begins to travel outside, with a lot of felicitations from neighbours, relatives, etc. but not before the passing of a judgemental stare or comment on how ‘it isn’t the age for passion’.
The rest of the movie focuses on Nakul coming to terms with the news and attempting to make amends for his initial behaviour, as the movie challenges the fallacious norms of a conservative society on sex, sexuality and what moderates sexual behaviour. It addresses the stigma around slightly older couples engaging in any form of sexual activity rather impressively, however, it doesn’t divulge accurately, the backlash of an orthodox society to such news.
If anything, Khurrana’s acting served as a sort of saving grace for the film. Sanya Malhotra who played Nakul’s girlfriend, Renee did a stupendous job too, her portrayal of conflicted emotions was simply phenomenal. The rest of the cast also passed off pretty well. My slight disappointment comes from Neena Gupta’s character, Priyamvada. The actor is really efficient, yes, but the character somewhat fell short of my expectations. The movie didn’t really explore her character much and confined it to simply that of a pregnant mother dealing with the consequences of her and her husband’s actions in a very domestic setting when in fact, it could have done a lot more.
The movie also has a slightly problematic undertone in a particular scene, when speaking about a queer character, especially in a time when sensitivity regarding LGBTQ is on the rise. Furthermore, the soundtrack of the movie seems to have gone askew in certain scenes where there was no need of one. There were also quite a few unnecessarily stretched scenes accompanying these songs that were quite frankly, not needed.
To conclude, it’s apparent that the film doesn’t exactly stand up to the expectations laid out by its trailer. Keeping aside the stirring performances of the cast, the storyline was built on quite a lot of Bollywood clichés, which don’t gel well with the theme the director was quite obviously trying to go for. However, it was entertaining to say the least and a very refreshing, light and quirky movie and the acting almost, but not quite, made up for the tolerable plot-line.