As a rule rom-coms are about romance, sizzling chemistry, some rona dhona and of course, a few laughs. Rare is a love story that packs a message in between. And how often do you hear a heroine in a Hindi film saying, “Love is not enough, neither do I respect him nor does he” as a prime reason for not marrying her ardent suitor.
Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya is one such pyar ki kahani that surely and forcefully says a lot without being didactic and keeping the tone light and frothy. Girls are no less is a message writ large even when it walks in the opposite direction. Indeed, women empowering themes are the flavour of the season and most movies are dittoing this line.
What is refreshing and invigorating, is to make his story work the director places his film in small town Jhansi and gets some of its quaintness and historicity right. Yes indeed, it is the same place famous for its brave queen Rani ki Jhansi. In 21st century India, the place is like most mofussil towns with an archaic mindset that celebrates when sons are born and sees little reason for rejoicing when a daughter comes into this world. Dowry makes sons assets and conversely daughters liabilities.
However, the moment this status quo is reiterated you know just the reverse is in the waiting. In walks firebrand Vaidehi (Alia Bhatt) who floors Badri (Varun Dhawan) and has him looking for cover before he discovers what being a true man entails. Along the inevitable course lie some crisp and pungent dialogues, fine performances and fleshed out characters, not just of the endearing lead pair, but cameos too. Bhayia bhaabi, both set of fathers (reticent Swanand Kirkire and overbearing Rituraj Singh) and the eternal Yeh dosti hum nahi todenge variant friend (Sahil Vaid), casting is fresh yet just right. In the later part, Alia does get a tad too confident for her air hostess part. Nevertheless she, along with Varun, holds the film like a glue with their incredible spontaneity and verve. Varun is both delightful and impressive and even when mouthing the predictable sentimentality, he is convincing.
The film flounders in between especially when being a Karan Johar production it can’t resist the temptation of moving to more exotic locales. Singapore it is this time, necessary for the plot perhaps and certainly for some groovy songs like the new version of Tama Tama. But in the main flow of the film it stands like a sore thumb and for a moment you think you are watching two different films. Yes, in the end all is reconciled and what remains with you is the spin it gives to the age-old girl-boy relationship and why it may not be customary for men to lookout for women all the time and chivalry needn’t be an all male domain. Good thought especially since it comes just two days after International Women’s Day.
Go for it, not only for the film ticks the right boxes on the socially correct parameter. It is an immensely likeable film with its delectable couple, even though our vote is going firm and square to Badri. From a floundering boy riding aimlessly on his father’s money to one who stumbles upon women power, Varun sure is a winner. Both he and Alia make the film winsome as also the fact that this is one is super clean entertainment where CBFC would have had no grouse at all.