In a country like ours, there are several problems that people face every day. Scarce resources, overflowing population, rampant corruption, petrol prices, alarmingly increasing inflation are few of the problems that keep hovering over us. But the biggest issue of them all is that problem, which keeps troubling us throughout our lives. Social Anxiety Disorder is the intense fear and anxiety of being judged by others. As Navjot Singh Siddhu says –

‘Duniya Ka Sab Se Bada Rog… Kya Kahenge Mere Baare Main Log!’

We judge everyone and in return, get judged by others as well. But we conveniently forget that by being judgemental about someone else’s problem, we end up making that person’s life miserable. Director Amit Ravindranath Sharma’s ‘Badhaai Ho!’ talks about a middle-aged couple’s dilemma about accidental pregnancy and so-called societal stigma attached to it. It’s a wonderful satire about how we perceive our elders and their private lives. 

Located in a quaint middle-class neighbourhood of Delhi, the Kaushiks get a bolt out of the blue, when they discover mommy Kaushik to be pregnant. Papa Kaushik, a Railway employee by profession and a closeted poet is horrified with this news, amidst a constantly rebuking ailing mother and two stunned sons, one of them old enough to get married. As it happens in the middle-class households, the news spreads like wildfire, sending the locality into a tizzy, leaving an embarrassed family. How the Kaushiks face this upheaving task, forms the crux of the story.

If we look back and check the facts, about 60-70 years ago, having a baby at a late age was quite normal. Having 7-8 kids at a home was the norm, where often the eldest brother or sister was seen taking care of siblings while the mom was on her way, giving birth to the next baby. Sanjay Gandhi and his move to vasectomise the entire country and to some extent, public awareness about the population made people take cognisance of the situation. People chose ‘Hum Do Hamare Do’ and nucleus families started taking shape. All was good until the famous middle-class sensibilities kicked in. The idea of having a baby at a late age somewhat got linked with the idea of promiscuity, not acting the age and that beast – religion. Old age is often associated with being close to God. The thought of having a baby at that age made it a taboo. In the film, the couple is shown to be the subject of ridicule of the town and their family members. The couple is laughed at, criticised even chastised for their decision to have the baby. The general apathy for the couple makes the viewer ponder about the progressiveness of the society. The film particularly highlights the fact about how the society and even the family members ridicule a middle-aged couple’s late pregnancy.

To say that Ayushmaan Khurrana is on a golden streak would be an understatement to the huge talent he possesses. Impeccable choice of scripts has made him the king of box office. A look at his last few outings, makes one realise how intelligent he has been in choosing his roles. Here, he plays Nakul, the elder son of the Kaushiks’, who finds it difficult to accept the fact about his parents’ pregnancy. He may be a cool dude to his girlfriend but when it comes to being progressive, he’s not. Along with him, the heroes of this film are Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta and Surekha Sikri. As the helpless couple, Gajraj and Neena Gupta are spot on. Neena Gupta is an accomplished actor and it’s evident, how much the camera loves her and how much the audience misses her craft. She owns the film from the beginning. Gajraj Rao, as the father, who finds it difficult to make eye contact with his son, yet silently takes pride in the fact that he’s able to bear a kid at such a late age is fabulous. Surekha Sikri, as the matriarch of the Kaushik family, is fantastic. As a bickering old lady, she is on fire!  Sanya Malhotra is effective as Nakul’s girlfriend. Sheeba Chaddha as her mom who belongs to the elite upper class of Delhi yet has the same perception about the couple’s pregnancy is a delight. 

The film uses comedy as its most potent weapon to pass the message. The predicament of both sons upon receiving the message is clear – the elder son is unable to fathom the fact and the younger one silently blames himself to have been instrumental in removing the protection device which could have prevented this. The father, proud of his virility, finds it hard to explain to his mom. The grandmother who herself is hard of hearing ensures that she goes on the top of her voice to let entire locality know of this news. The Delhi lingo takes the cake as the characters fluently let out the imbibed Delhi-ness in them. 

The comedy is top class but the emotional scenes are even better. Credit goes to director Amit Ravindranath Sharma and writer trio of Akshat Ghidial, Shantanu Srivastava and Jyoti Kapoor. Cinematography by Sanu Verghese captures the essence of the middle-class Delhi. The razor-sharp editing by Dev Rao Jadhav ensures a fine running time of 2 hours and 6 minutes. ‘Morni Banke’ and ‘Badhaaiyan Tenu’ are the pick of the tracks and are immensely hummable.

‘Badhaai Ho’ is a well-made film with the right intentions. Enjoy this madcap ride of the Kaushik family, with your own family.

The Cinemawala Rating: 3.5/5

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