How would you react if your parents told you that they’re having another child, a baby brother or sister?
The embarrassing reaction that you may have when you receive such a news is what Badhaai Ho is based on.
I have to say Badhaai Ho is a feel good, full on family entertainer that Bollywood was in desperate need of. We are finally spared of slow-mo walks towards the front door, elders who are holier than thou and long-drawn crying sequences. None of that involved, we still get a slice-of-life film that starts with a hilarious premise and takes us through some common prejudices that the society harbors.
It tells a story of a middle-class family of 5, called Kaushiks living as any other family would. Complete with saas-bahu tiffs, Indian moms’ special blackmailing techniques and a car that almost always has a starting trouble. A typical middle-class dad Jeetender Kaushik (played by Gajraj Rao) with the most dad-like qualities of trying to advise anyone he can find, the EBM (emotional blackmail) specialist/ demure and caring mummy Priyamvada Kaushik (played by Neena Gupta), a mother-in-law aka dadi (played Surekha Sikri) who may look fragile, but has a mouth that puts people to shame. Then there’s, of course, the eldest child of the family, typical Delhi munda Nakul (played by Ayushmann Khurrana) and a younger brother Gullar who simply has the best dialogues in the film after dadi.
As you can imagine, things go out of hand when Jeetender and Priyamvada find out that they’re expecting another child. The scenes where they break the news to their sons and his mother is hilarious. While both their sons react like anyone else would, by going through a face of denial, anger, and embarrassment, the best reaction would have to be dadi‘s. Her character is shown as the typical orthodox mother-in-law from a middle-class family who is waiting to find faults in her daughter-in-law, it is not every day that you get to hear someone of her age lecture her son loudly on what protection is for. The movie touches upon things that family entertainers usually don’t, and that’s where it wins. While marriage and kids are always a priority in a middle-class family, sex and romance is often looked down upon. More so, when you come to aged couples, they’re only supposed to read holy books, watch TV serials and discuss pension, right? The pregnancy that ruffles a few feathers in their normal home also brings out all the faults and the narrow-minded thinking that society usually has. Nosy neighbours, gossiping relatives aside, the one sound-thinking voice in the mix is Nakul’s girlfriend Renee (Played by Sanya Malhotra). Renee’s lifestyle and family provides a stark contrast to that of Nakul’s. Nakul and Renee represent the modern-day couple and their love story runs parallel to that of Priyamvada and Jeetender’s, which allows us to see what might be missing in modern-day love. All in all, writers Shantanu Srivastava and Akshat Ghildial gives us some truly delightful moments when it comes to making us laugh, cry or think.
When it comes to acting, I have to give it to Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta. Ayushmann Khurrana might be the face you recognize easily, but Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta steal the show in this flick. Their romantic moments are plenty and are what makes this movie so freaking cute. Gajrajji is brilliant as a middle-aged husband who is in love with his wife and who still gets starry-eyed looking at her. We finally get to see Neena Gupta in a role like she’s never done before, a demure Delhi housewife. Ayushmann is amazing as their eldest son, who is not able to digest the fact that his parents have an actual love life (read as sex life). So much so that his own relationship with his girlfriend is affected. Kudos to Ayushmann for choosing such different scripts, this movie proves to be a double whammy for him after Andhadhun. Sanya breezes through the role of a modern girl with ease. Surekha ji as the orthodox but surprisingly woke mother-in-law is outstanding even when she doesn’t have dialogues. The actors don’t seem like they’re acting, but rather they’ve breathed life into the characters so easily that you get invested in each of their personal journeys.
Director Amit Ravindernath Sharma has done an amazing job bringing the whole story together into a succinct and engaging film. He has made a film that will appeal to anyone from any economic strata because it is so relatable.
Badhaai Ho has definitely won my heart and will surely win everyone else’s too. It is the perfect pick for a relaxed Friday evening or the upcoming weekend. And of course, you can watch it over and over again.
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra, Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta
Director: Amit Sharma