Badhaai Ho holds a mirror to society that cringes at sex, especially when it is between a middle-aged, sweater-clad couple.
What happens when your parents embarrass you in front of society by showing that they had sex? This is the overarching story of Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Badhaai Ho. The dilemma of dealing with a 50-year-old pregnant woman is at the centre of this humour-sautéed film directed by Amit Sharma.
The Delhi middle class antics are generously distributed throughout the film, starting with the opening scene where we see a post-bhajan kitty party at Nakul’s (Ayushmann) house. The winner of a Tambola contest is gifted a bottle of liquid soap wrapped with a red ribbon.
We are then taken to the fateful night when a happy Gajraj Rao, (Nakul’s father), a ticket checker at the Indian Railways, reads out his published poem on lovemaking to his wife. Nineteen weeks later, a shy and embarrassed Rao stammers to break the news of a ‘naya mehman’ to his two sons.
While Ayushmann, fresh from his Andhadhun success, is surely the big star, but the film runs on the shoulders of Gajraj Rao, Surekha Sikri and Neena Gupta. Gajraj is easily the most lovable character in this film with his confused and innocent act. His effortless display of a range of emotions, from confusion to shock and then realisation, at the neighbourhood Bagga’s Clinic is worth raising a toast to. From never tipping a porter at the railway station to awkwardly switching to broken English when his son’s girlfriend comes over, he is your true hero in salt and pepper hair. Credit goes to Akshat Ghildial’s writing and dialogue for crafting such a character.
His sweet yet relatable chemistry with Neena Gupta leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy, something that on-screen college romances have stopped doing a long time ago. This is a different kind of romance that one can only wish was explored more in Bollywood.
Another pillar of this film is Sikri and her brilliant act of a motormouth mother/mother-in-law/grandmother who says how can her son be a sarkari naukar if he can’t even understand sarkar’s message of ‘hum do, humaare do’ and Nirodh.
Each character reacts to the news of the ‘naya mehman’ differently. They all eventually regret having given any space to the couple. Nakul strikes his brother Ghullan (Shardul Rana), who is preparing for his Board exams, for demanding a separate room and not sleeping between his parents.
Dadi chides her son for not spending enough time with her. Ghullan regrets stealing the condom from under the mattress. The movie could have easily slipped into slapstick with nauseating neighbours breaking into a chuckle while congratulating the couple. But, director keeps them at arm’s length and exposes their hypocrisy.
However, Badhaai Ho is not without its flaws. Renee (Sanya Malhotra) and Nakul’s love story in the second-half feels forced. By this time, we are too amped about the romance between his ageing parents to bother about two young marketing executives getting cozy.
Society cringes at sex, especially when it is between a middle-aged and sweater-clad couple. But Neena and Gajraj’s characters aren’t sorry for it. They are embarrassed, but not regretful. Secretly, they even see getting pregnant as an achievement as is shown by Neena’s repressed smile when her close friends ask how they managed.
Badhaai Ho adds to Khurrana’s long list of playing the cute, middle class boy. Although the film never really delves deep into the issues of middle-aged couple having sex and old-age pregnancy complications, it makes up by offering oodles of laughter.
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