Bala tells the story of a man from Kanpur called Balmukund named after his luscious hair. The obvious irony is that as he grows older, Bala loses the hair that he used to lovingly flaunt back in school. The story develops around Bala, his plummeting self-esteem and how he tries every trick in the book to make his hair grow back naturally. But it’s not just hair loss that the movie addresses, it is also our obsession with fairness as a country. Honestly, the entire story comes out in the trailer. But that’s okay. Because it’s not the story that wins you over. While there’s been a lot of debate about Bala‘s similarity to Udta Chaman that released a few days ago, what’s different about Bala is the treatment of the subject, it’s believable characters, exceptional dialogue, and taut direction.
The general premise of the movie is quite predictable. But the incredibly funny writing and the supporting cast make the movie supremely entertaining. The movie is well-packaged and the script by Niren Bhatt is so crisp that there’s not a minute that you’d want to look down at your phone. From the leads referencing recent pop culture from Thanos and Gully Boy to TikTok and the #DeepVeer wedding, the movie is probably more up to date than your phone. There comes a point where you question just how much TikTok has spent on this movie but the product placement itself is blended into the story and so apt that the filmmakers are forgiven. One of the best things about the movie is that even with a predictable storyline, it avoids cliches. In fact, the leads address the fact that it is not a Bollywood movie for everything to work out, in the end. The realistic depiction of characters and small-town life is what makes the movie what it is.
‘Tis truly Ayushmann Khurrana‘s season at the movies. Is it me or has Ayushmann found some sort of magic beans that gives him the best of scripts one after the other? Ayushmann is flawless as Bala, he depicts the regressive and patriarchal mentality of men in small towns perfectly. His struggle with hair loss is hilariously accurate and will hit a note with anybody who has been through the same. Apart from all of this, there is just something about the way that Ayushmann depicts Bala that makes you want to root for him. His mimicry of film stars from Shah Rukh Khan to Ranbir Kapoor is on point.
Bhumi Pednekar as the fiesty lawyer acts as the moral compass of the story. She is the one person that questions everything regressive about society starting from our obsession with fair skin to the feeling of shame instilled in people because of the way they look. Bhumi portrays Latika with all her heart and it’s her we’re rooting throughout the movie. Yami Gautam is a breath of fresh air with her portrayal of a small-town TikTok sensation. From the nuanced, Lucknowi accented English to the way her character is obsessed with TikTok, she nails it with her character, Pari. Moreover, the fact that she’s kind of pulling her own leg by being a model for a fairness cream on-screen when she is one in real life. But the single most worthwhile monologue in the whole movie is not delivered by Ayushmann, but by Dheerendra Kumar Gautam who plays Ayushmann’s younger brother, Vihan. Vihan is subjected to helping Bala with all the ridiculous and disgusting hair loss remedies. And the younger brother finally delivers the said monologue when his mother asks him to put a mixture of buffalo dung and bull’s semen on Bala’s head. It gives Kartik Aaryan‘s popular Pyar Ka Punchnama monologue a run for its money. I’d take this monologue over Kartik’s any day. Shout out to Sidharth Shukla, Seema Pahwa, and all the supporting actors are for the sheer brilliance with which they played each of their roles.
Dinesh Vijan, the producer of the movie much like Ayushmann really has a nose for choosing the most entertaining scripts based out of small-towns in India. Amar Kaushik‘s impeccable direction makes the movie a delightful and entertaining watch. But the writing by Niren Bhatt is the true winner.
All in all, it’s a complete family entertainer that deals with a number of taboo topics. Trust me when I say there is never a dull moment throughout the film.
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar, Yami Gautam
Director: Amar Kaushik