Director: Harshavardhan Kulkarni
Cast: Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar
Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3 stars
In 2018, with Badhaai Ho, makers opened up a gateway to a conversation considered a taboo in our society. With Badhaai Do, one would expect the same. Badhaai Do tries to follow the same formula of lacing a social message with comedy for an impactful result. But does it have the desired effect?
Badhaai Do centres around Shardul (Rajkummar Rao), a sub-inspector who had to compromise on his dream of becoming a wrestler. His journey for compromise, and suppressing his own desires began much earlier though. Identifying himself as gay, Shardul is not as sensitive as you would expect him to be. Suffocating himself within the burden of the patriarchal shackles, he is often seen being mindful of what he says and keep up with the masculine image till he meets Sumi (Bhumi Pednekar), where he finds a confidant and a friend, and later a life partner. Unlike Shardul, Sumi is much more defiant of the societal norms and embraces her sexuality comfortably. Despite being in a closet herself, she is not afraid of being herself. Her biggest dream is to adopt a child but knowing the rules in India, she even gets her passport made.
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As the wheels of time turn, both Shardul and Sumi come together in a convenience shaadi setup and decide to live like roommates and have individual lives going away from family. Until, the family tries to poke their nose into their comfortable setting. In order to hide their reality, Shardul and Sumi then try passing the buck of explanations on each other, further complicating things. It is also during this time their insecurities as individuals come to the foreplay. Shardul is a product of patriarchy, while Sumi is self-reliant and independent. They even consider the option of having sex for a baby, just to avoid any further parental interference. It is a matter of trials and errors for the couple who find themselves in challenging situations in an attempt to hide their sexualities. Why? Because no one will understand.
Lavender wedding (wedding of convenience between homosexuals) is not spoken about much but is a reality. What makes it tougher for them are the rules and laws of the country that doesn’t guarantee them equal rights. Questioning the very basis of the laws is Badhaai Do which aims to be a satire but ends up feeling like a stretched comedy sketch.
Badhaai Do, in true sense, is questioning if it is really worth congratulating someone if the relationship and love is built on the pillar of compromise?
Rajkummar Rao as Shardul is a delight to watch. He is so comfortable and at ease in scenes where he has to deliver an emotional outburst or just switch between seriousness and lightheartedness. Bhumi as Sumi is strong and a voice to reckon with. She constantly challenges the societal norms which is so refreshing. Filmmaker Harshvardhan laces the story with enough intimacy and leave us feeling soft and root for the duo and their individual journeys.
The music, in all honestly, doesn’t stay with me for a long time but nonetheless blends well with the theme of the film.
Badhaai Do makes you feel the struggles, the challenges of Shardul and Bhumi but the inconsistency in screenplay makes it difficult to get invested in the characters till the end. The film felt half an hour long but here’s hoping it moves people to ask the right questions.