In the most populous country in the world, when women are having babies at all ages within the child-bearing spectrum and some beyond (with medical advances), a film spends two hours plus going ‘hawww’ because a middle-aged woman is having a baby?
Amit Ravindernath Sharma’s Badhaai Ho is a one-idea film that has some really charming moments, very well-written lines and perfect casting. How often does a film focus on a gentle romance between a couple in their 50s, who are otherwise occupied with looking after a family?
The idea of an older woman finding herself pregnant has been done in a comic way in the popular 1962 Broadway play Never Too Late (also made into a film) and the film Father Of The Bride 2. Sharma and his writer (Akshat Ghildial) have placed their story in a Delhi colony, in the midst of a bustling, tambola-playing neighbourhood.
Railway employee Jitendra ‘Jitu’ Kaushik (Gajraj Rao) is a closet poet (‘Gulzar bane phirte ho’ a colleague mocks) and when reading poetry to his usually harried wife Priyamvada (Neena Gupta), an unguarded moment of intimacy happens; and a few weeks later, she discovers she is pregnant. In small town India, this is no big deal, quite often a woman and her eldest offspring have kids at the same time, but here, it creates a storm.
The Kaushik sons, Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) and Gular (Shardul Rana) are shocked and embarrassed. The grandmother (Surekha Sikri) wants to know when they found the time, adding that even in their time they knew of Nirodh. The circle of neighbours, friends and relatives are amused or appalled and find ways to make fun of the two and tease the sons.
In a dull subplot, Nakul is dating the posh Renee (Sanya Malhotra) and there is a hitch in their relationship due to this development in his family. Her elegant mother (Sheeba Chaddha) quite rightly wonders how Renee (Priyamvada cannot pronounce her name, and Jitu inexplicably bursts into halting English with her!) will fit into that family, and how they will manage the financial and health burdens of a new child. Which just serves to make Nakul suddenly appreciate his family more!
The film is neither a comedy nor high drama, but does succeed in bringing out the best in actors like Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta, who will probably never get another film to shine like this.
The younger actors could learn a trick or two about how to act with such enviable ease.