A missed opportunity to make a social-statement
Badrinath Bansal from Jhansi and Vaidehi Trivedi from Kota belong to small towns but have diametrically opposite opinions on everything. This leads to a clash of ideologies, despite both of them recognising the goodness in each other.
Native and/or alternative title: बद्रीनाथ की दुल्हनिया, Badrinath’s Bride
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance
Director: Shashank Khaitan
Writer: Shashank Khaitan
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sahil Vaid, Swanand Kirkire, Ritu Raj Singh
Two words — EPIC……. FAIL! *this review may contain SPOILERS but trust me, it won’t matter!* I did not see Badrinath ki Dulhania when it released in theatres. Frankly, the movie did not appeal to me. However, one fine day, as I was travelling is when I came across this movie. I thought I was destined to watch this movie, after hearing all the relatively positive reviews from my friends, I thought why not? Might as well watch it and believing that my boring journey was finally blessed with some entertainment, I did exactly that.
Now you see we are human beings so it is in our nature to make premature assumptions about practically everything and I did the same with Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya.
What did I expect? A romantic comedy with a good social message because my friends said as much. So, I started the movie with higher expectations than I usually have with this type of Bollywood movie genre.
What I actually got? A typical Bollywood romantic comedy which says it is making a social statement but is actually not. So, I guess you could say it has a pseudo-social message. A has a very clichéd plot. Boy meets girl. Girl rejects boy. Girl and boy become friends. Boy loses hope. Girl realises she loves the boy. Both get married and live happily ever after. To add to the list of clichés, the boy is a man-child slacker with a rich old-fashioned father and the girl is a modern day rebellious feminist-type of person, so basically total opposites. Once the girl realises that she cannot live without the guy, the guy opposes his conservative father and walks away with the girl. Everybody is happy and of course, there was an over-enthusiastic optimist friend through all this.
Yes, I agree that stories like this can also be good but not this one. Badrinath ki Dulhaniya completely lacks imagination and creativity and is directed in a very typical manner. It becomes quite predictable and eventually, the viewer starts to get a ‘been there, done that’ kind of a vibe’. The only thing which I can genuinely appreciate about this film is the attempt at passing along a social message against the prevalent dowry system in India, promoting equality amongst the sexes and urging parents to give their daughters the freedom and support to achieve their own dreams and live their own lives as individuals rather than someone’s daughter or someone’s wife or mother.
However, one scene that gravely disturbed me was a joke made about male rape and molestation. In the scene, a male was getting sexually abused when his friends come along and save him but at the same time make a mockery of the situation by questioning his manliness for getting sexually abused like that. Many might probably shrug it off as just another joke or a gag and wouldn’t bat an eye at the situation. But, I felt it was a grievously mishandled scene and the only reason I noticed I so vividly is because I knew about this scene prior to watching the movie. I felt it was a perplexing paradox where the movie is all about equality and feminism but here they are laughing off the issue of male rape and molestation by reducing it to nothing less than a joke where the manliness of the victim is questioned because he is a male instead of a female. I felt this scene was very wrongly depicted.
So, what is the correct way? I honestly do not know, but this was certainly not it. Spreading awareness about an issue through humour is one thing but simply reducing a rampant social stigma to an offensive joke is a huge mark on this film. If the roles were reversed and it was a woman who was molested and the film simply brushed it off with a joke then it would become a news sensation with its own Twitter hashtag protest at least.
Even if I look at this film from a feminist point of view, it does not score well. The girl flees from her wedding without any explanation and goes back abroad to finish her training. So what does the guy do? Of course, he ends up following her abroad along with his friend. Both the guys violently stuff the girl into a trunk without warning or permission (who would agree to be stuffed in the trunk in the first place?) and the most blatant audacious act was that the guy did not see anything wrong with his actions. Basically, kidnapping a girl for rejecting him was in no way an atrocious act of infringement of basic human rights. The even better outcome was that even the girl did not find anything inappropriate or even illegal in his actions. In fact, the girl concedes that she is the one at fault. After the guy faces repeated trouble with the police, the girl still bails his out and offers them a place to live in her own house. Within minutes of this, probably 30 minutes or under, she confesses her love for him.
I do not understand this mentality of Indian films! Just because an act was committed in love can its illegality and disregard of human dignity and respect be overlooked? Does it make sense that the girl falls in love with the man who abused her, kidnapped her and finds no harm in his action? So can any person get the girl by threatening to kill themselves if they leave? Is this what Bollywood is trying to teach young men and women of India – emotional blackmail is okay, overlooking the girl’s right to choice is perfectly fine, if the guy turns to illegal and abusive measures to win your heart then he is exactly the right person for you! Don’t let go!! After promoting all this we wonder what is wrong with our society and where the young generation is heading. Well! If prominent movie stars who influences millions of youth indulge in the promotion of threats, Stockholm syndrome and emotional blackmail in the name of love, then obviously our youth will be misled. These type of movies make people believe that if a girl says ‘no’ then she actually means ‘yes’ and in the name of love you can do anything to force the girl to love you and get away with the ‘stud’, ‘macho’ or ‘hero’ tag. I think it is the time that Bollywood realises that sometimes when a girl says ‘no’ she means ‘no’.
I know that this is just a film. It does not need to show what is right and what is wrong. Then why am I pointing out these things? Because this is what the movie is trying to be. What it wants to show and what is shows contradict.
The remainder of the film has nothing noteworthy except a couple of good scenes here and there. There are some actual funny moments as well in the first half, while other scenes which claim to be funny are actually cringe-worthy. The songs are mostly out of place and do not match the scenes. Despite all this, all the actors are very good. Especially Alia is an excellent actor and so is Sahil Vaid and Varun.
Despite all the chaos and mess in between, in the end, everything is hunky-dory. Unsurprisingly, the speech by the guy at the end along with the good social message in conveyed successfully.
Overall the subject of the movie had potential to be a brilliant social-awareness inciting film with a good punch but they miserably fail to hit the bull’s eye. In they completely miss the dartboard with the nonsensical storyline. It is unfortunate that a potential story with good intentions was completely wasted.
- Acting/Cast: 7
- Story: 6
- Music/Soundtrack: 5 (Buy ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ soundtrack from Amazon India)
- Overall: 3
Have you seen ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’? If yes, what do you think about this movie? If not, does it sound interesting to you? Comment below!