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Badhaai Do Review: Rajkummar Rao, Bhumi Pednekar shine light on realities

Badhaai Do

Director: Harshavardhan Kulkarni

Cast:; Bhumi Pednekar, Rajkummar Rao, Chum Darang, Sheeba Chaddha

Platform: Theatrical Release

Rating: 3/5

With more and more filmmakers bringing LGBTQIA stories to the big screen, Harshavardhan Kulkarni's Badhaai Do is also embraced by dipping his toes in water. Starring Rajkumar Rao as Shardul Thakur, a gay policeman, and Bhumi Pednekar as Sumi, a lesbian physical education teacher, Badhaai Do follows these two characters and their upcoming story.

Nestled in the tops of the picturesque Dehradun Hills, Badhaai Do begins with family members discussing one of their favorite topics: marriage. Chardol and Sumi's parents are looking for a suitor, oblivious to the fact that they are not straight. While the duo were living their lives, it was Sumi's clever and cunning dating experience that led her to a macho but unassuming and spoiled cop.

Writers Suman Adhikari, Akshat Gildial, and Harshavardhan Kulkarni waste no time creating the characters and their backgrounds. From their first meeting to their comfortable but uncomfortable marriage, it all falls into place easily and quickly. The remainder of the first half of the film explores the honeymoon adventures and seemingly boring solo love stories. Why are songs alone the preferred way to convey the emerging romance in Hindi films?

In a country where the LGBTQIA community is ignored, opposed or simply not inclusive by Indians, Badhaai Do is trying to break that first door and hack. He does, however, with fleeting banter about moral vigilance, body shaming, and not being fair enough to marry. The first half of the movie is filled with some of these embarrassing jokes.

Raajkumar Rao

With Sumi and Chardol in place of Lavender, the couple now have to deal with their own personal world, as well as the world they created together. Director Harshvardhan Kulkarni brings up several minor conflicts in his script, but it never becomes a major point of contention. Disagreements, arguments, and family issues are all resolved very easily, leaving you wondering where the story is headed.

It's the second half of the movie that shines more than the first, all thanks to actress Sheba Chada, who brings the saga of earthly relationships to life. Sheba, who plays Chardol's mother, delivers comedic relief and lends her own charm with her quirky but lovable personality.

Rajkummar and Bhumi deliver a serious performance as expected. The film's cast features in-place actors like Chum Darang, Seema Pahwa and a surprise appearance by Gulshan Devaiah, and the supporting cast maintains the interest and exciting comedic timing.

Set against the backdrop of the Dehradun hills, cinematographers Manoj Shaw and Swapnil Sunawan immerse you in panoramic views whenever they get the chance. Similarly, Rohit Chaturvedi also plays with dark costume colors until the climax of the movie when the colors of the pride flag dominate the screen. However, it is the film's disappointing music that dampens it. The filmmakers also seem to have taken note of the backlash it received and freed the "straightforward pride" flag from the film's climax.

In essence, Badhaai Do is gay and gay tell the story. Kulkarni treats him largely sympathetically, but he also does not shy away from showing the facts and acceptance in the Tier 2 and 3 cities of modern India. Whether living your truth or legalizing LGBTQIA adoption, Badhaai Do strives to start a conversation but highlights the fact that we have a long way to go by being a mirror of society.

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