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Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan in the featured image for the 2017 Bollywood movie - Badrinath Ki Dulhania

Badrinath Ki Dulhania Tries To Smash Stereotypes, But Falls Short

Tejas Nair | March 12, 2017

Entertainment  Review  

Hindi films about marriages are always fun to watch, if not meaningful. The man who gave us Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania in 2014 is back again, this time with some purpose in his romantic comedy drama story.

Vaidehi (Alia Bhatt) is a student majoring in English language who has rejected a jobless young man named Badrinath’s (Varun Dhawan) marriage proposal. Despite having been brought up in a middle-class non-affluent family, Vaidehi is committed to her career, and thus, does not believe in immediate matrimony or all that comes with it (read dowry and post-marriage suppression). Badrinath, on the other hand, wants to obsessively make Vaidehi taste some patriarchy, sponsored by his dogmatist father. Both dilly-dally for a while until one of them decides to let go…

Set partly in Rajasthan and Singapore, the story is pretty straightforward. Vaidehi is rebellious and does not want to give in to the pressures of society, whereas Badri is a naive person who has never thought about the oppression faced by women after marriage in spite of having an example sitting in his own house. The film starts off by firing shots in an attempt to break stereotypes even before it has introduced these so-called stereotypes. Comparing genders with financial jargon to induce humour, the film basically revolves around few characters who deal with marriages, dowry, societal pressure, women suppression and self-seeking. While it should be lauded for trying to at least address these relevant issues by using romance as a container, there is no running away from the serious cinematic shortcomings.

A movie still from Badrinath Ki Dulhania - A Dharma Productions Film Starring Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan

The first half is a fun-filled adventure with Badrinath trying to woo Vaidehi through typical Rajasthan-style tricks. It is the high dosage of melodrama and mindless sequences in the second half which plays with director Shashank Khaitan’s broth. Cringe-worthy sequences and drama that some of its actors cannot handle – that is essentially what the film gets wrong. Other than a crash course in air hostess studies, there is nothing substantial one can grasp from it, which climaxes with one of the lead characters turning more responsible and being the poster person for the issues addressed previously. And at the end, there is no hint of development or change in the general mindset. Of course, the male character gets the courage to talk back to and question his parents about the ancient system and astrology that they believe in and unabashedly push down on their daughter-in-law, but there is no detailed furnishing of what happens next. A single montage is used to convey what does not live up to all that promise the film makes in the first half.

I’m not even going to talk about the terrible music.

Alia Bhatt is lovely in her character. Her amazing chemistry with Varun Dhawan works yet again. (Special shout out for whoever does her costumes.) She can pull off such “girlfriend” characters effortlessly, and it is she who has 51% stake as the lead character in the film. Varun Dhawan, as usual, crosses the line of overacting, and even takes it a notch or two higher here with his awkward facial expressions. Loved Sahil Vaid as Badrinath’s sidekick, making us wonder whether sidekick actors do more in such films than who they play sidekicks for. Rest of the cast are fine, and portray their characters well. Khaitan directs his cast very well, and is let down only by his lazy writing.

All in all, the film works because of its adequate amounts of humour and romance, with drama filling majority of the cups. Reminiscent of recent Bollywood films like Shaad Ali’s “OK Jaanu” and Amit Roy’s “Runningshaadi.com”, Khaitan’s spiritual sequel to the 2014 film is a welcome gesture in this time of aggressive feminism, but still may not go down well with people, mostly because its two lead characters sometimes act like high school pass-outs.

BOTTOM LINE: Shashank Khaitan’s “Badrinath Ki Dulhania” is an average romantic drama that hopes to move mountains with its intentions of smashing stereotypes about Indian marriages, but ends up just relocating it. A cool afternoon watch at your nearest theater.

Image Credits: Dharma Productions Website

Tejas Nair
Master (1200 PTS)

Tejas Nair

Tejas is a writer with interests in films and books. He blogs at Thoughtcream. Other articles by this author

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