On one rainy night, a much-in-love husband is reading out a kavita he wrote to his wife. The two smile, lost in an intimate embrace. The poem is aptly titled “Milan ki Ritu” .
Cut to 19 weeks later when they receive the news of a “chhota mehmaan”. This innocuous khushkhabri (happy news) would set the obvious congratulatory messages rolling, but things are slightly tweaked here. The couple in question are well past their prime and have to break the news of their pregnancy to their adult working son Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana). The son, struggling with issues of his own, has just returned from a meeting with the impossible to impress la di da mother of his girlfriend.
Nakul’s expression upon learning of their parents’ news is priceless.
Their younger son Gullar (Shardul Rana) is blank. The dadi (Surekha Sikri) wants to know time kab mil gaya tujhe (where did you find the time?), and the neighbors smirk - some jealous but mostly plain curious. This “breaking news” leads to so many priceless moments of fun that the first half of Badhaai Ho is a lark!
Textured Narrative, Situational Humour
Thereafter appears the real challenge. Once the initial shock of a middle-aged couple’s very fertile saga settles down, how does one hold the audience’s attention?
Well badhaai ho because director Amit Sharma and screenplay writer Akshat Ghildial handle it masterfully and effortlessly.
The narrative is textured and nuanced, dealing with sensitivity and maturity what could have been a montage of crass jokes about ‘parents having fun in the bedroom’. The humour here is situational.
Set in a humble Delhi colony, the missing vowels from the Punjabi laced Hindi of the Kaushiks, neighbours, and dost-rishtedaar as they try to “support” the couple generate many LOL moments. The expecting parents themselves - Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) and Jatinder (Gajraj Rao) - who aren’t totally oblivious to the scandal they have ‘given birth to’, are hilarious in their moments of confusion.
Stellar Casting Makes Badhaai Ho a Success
Badhaai Ho is a tongue in cheek exposé of the double standards of a society that hyperventilates with normal PDA, and now has to process the news of an older couple’s healthy sex life.
The general perplexity is captured perfectly by their son Nakul who asks, ye koi maa baap ke karne ki cheez hai (is this something parents are supposed to do)? – a thought he can’t get out of his head even in his intimate moments with his girlfriend Renee (Sanya Malhotra). The girlfriend’s mother asks the most relevant questions about the health risk and financial strain that the Kaushiks will have to endure.
The film benefits tremendously from an ensemble cast that gets the tone and nuances spot on. Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta look every bit a couple in love.
Gupta is resplendent throughout the film. She portrays beautifully the fleeting thoughts of what the repercussions of her pregnancy would mean. With her face drawn and eyes downcast, one almost wants to reach out and give her a hug.
Gajraj Rao owns Jitender. His indignation is deftly conveyed as he tries to grapple with the situation alongside managing his mother and wife.
Here is a husband who truly cares, and his tender moments with Priyamvada - the reassuring glances and quiet support - win us over.
It is because of Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta’s heartwarming chemistry that one wishes to have seen more of them in the film. Somewhere along the plot the focus in the narrative shifts from them to Nakul and his girlfriend. This appears a little unnecessary as we crave for a closer look at the senior Kaushiks.
Surekhra Sikri is a dadi par excellence. She has the best lines and is in top form with her biting sarcasm, giving us plenty to cheer about.
Ayushmaan Khurrana, it seems, can do no wrong. From choosing the most hatke scripts to delivering his best each time, Khurrana confidently ventures into the role of an otherwise caring son unable to process “why” and in some hilarious moments “how” his parents did what they did.
Sheeba Chaddha, the grammar Nazi, and a wine-sipping, hard to please girlfriend-ki -maa is as usual a bright spark. Probably the only one with very little to do is Sanya Malhotra. This ‘dangal’ isn’t hers to fight and she mostly does what is expected of her to blend in.
Barring for a few glitches, then, Badhaai Ho is a wholesome entertainer!
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