Badhaai Do Review 2.5/5 & rate rating
BADHAAI DO is the story of a gay couple who enter into a lavender marriage. Shardul Thakur (Rajkummar Rao) is a police officer in Dehradun. He stays with his conservative family. He is a secret gay man and has not disclosed this fact to his family. He is 32 and his family is urging him to get married. Suman Singh (Bhumi Pednekar) is a sports teacher and a secret lesbian. Even her family forces her to settle down. She uses dating apps to find a suitable partner. She comes across Raju’s profile and he expresses a desire to meet her and move things forward. She agrees and they decide to meet at a coffee shop. In the café, she gets the shock of her life when she realizes that Raju is actually a guy pretending to be a girl. This guy, whose real name is Rajeev (Vyom Yadav), finds out where Suman lives and where her father (Nitesh Pandey) has a business. He blackmails her and demands sexual favors or threatens to embarrass her. Suman complains to the police. Shardul notes down her complaint and has Rajeev arrested. Rajeev blurts out to Shardul that she’s not straight. While writing down her complaint, he learns that Suman is of the same caste as himself. So he meets Suman and asks her to marry him. According to his plan, both of them can live as roommates after the wedding and live their lives on their own terms. Suman agrees and so they both get married. A year after the marriage, Shardul’s family begins to pressure the couple to have a baby. Shardul is dating an MBA student, Kabir (Deepak Arora), and their relationship is on the brink. Meanwhile, Suman meets Rimjhim Jongkey (Chum Darang), who works in a pathology lab. Both begin a secret affair and Rimjhim even moves into Shardul and Suman’s marriage. Shardul gets scared of this development as he lives in the police headquarters where his fellow police officers are quite conservative. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
The story of Akshat Ghildial and Suman Adhikary is progressive and the concept of the film is quite bold. The screenplay by Akshat Ghildial, Suman Adhikary and Harshavardhan Kulkarni may be shaky in places, but it’s entertaining and touching at the same time. Both the main characters and those of Shardul’s mother (Sheeba Chaddha) are very well developed. However, the script is stretched in the middle part of the film. Ideally, the script should have been shorter for better impact. Akshat Ghildial’s dialogues are chatty but without punch lines. His dialogues were much better in BADHAAI HO  and the one-liners here should have been similarly funny and clever.
Director Harshavardhan Kulkarni handled certain scenes with panache. It deserves credit as a film with such a subject needs to be treated sensitively. In this regard, Harshavardhan scores with flying colors as there is nothing at all offensive or obnoxious about the LGBTQIA+ community. He also breaks with stereotypes; The gay character is a strong bodybuilder with six pack abs and a police officer, something never before seen in a Bollywood film dealing with a homosexual character. Unfortunately, he keeps the film going on and on. BADHAAI DO is 147 minutes long and ideally should have lasted 2 hours. A few humorous gags fall flat. The director doesn’t explain why Kabir lost interest in Shardul and what went wrong between them. Even Rimjhim’s character disappears in the middle. Luckily the last 30-35 minutes are excellent and very moving.
The beginning of BADHAAI DO is fine. Raju’s track is mesmerizing and inspired by true events. After Shardul Suman proposes marriage, the creators are expected to devote the next 10-15 minutes to the family preparing for marriage. However, the film immediately moves to their wedding part and one expects the film to move like a rocket. However, the film begins to wander aimlessly for a while. Luckily, some scenes stand out like the blood test scene between Suman and Rimjhim where Shardul pretends to be “male” in front of the DSP (Abhay Joshi) and his wife (Durga Sharma) and Shardul’s mother tries to get hard in front of them restrained by Suman, but failed badly. Luckily, things get better in the third act. The film ends on a fine note.
Speaking of performances, Rajkummar Rao, as expected, nails the part. His comic timing is spot on and overall he lives up to the role. Bhumi Pednekar also gives her best and delivers a heartfelt performance. Sheeba Chaddha plays a funny character and provides laughs. In the final act, she communicates beautifully through her facial expression and eyes. Chum Darang is a great discovery and delivers a great performance. Gulshan Devaiah (Devi Narayan) is impressive in a cameo. Nitesh Pandey is lovely and memorable in the pre-climax scene. Deepak Arora, Vyom Yadav, Loveleen Mishra (Suman’s mother), Abhay Joshi, Durga Sharma, Seema Pahwa, Priyanka Charan (Shardul’s sister) and Nidhi Bhati (Naaznin Baig) are doing well.
Music is not memorable and the songs are off-putting. The title tracks “Atak Gaya”, “Hum Thay Seedhe Saadhe”, “Bandi Tot” and “Maange Manzooriyan” do not have a long shelf life. “Hum Rang Hai” is the only track that stands out and comes at a great point. The background music by Hitesh Sonik gives the film a lighthearted touch.
Swapnil S. Sonawane’s cinematography is appropriate. Laxmi Keluskar’s production design is realistic. Rohit Chaturvedi’s costumes are straight out of life. Kirti Nakhwa’s cut could have been tighter. The film should have been mercilessly cut by at least 30 minutes.
On the whole, BADHAAI DO talks about an important topic in a sensitive way and is embellished with some nice performances. However, the lengthy length, poor writing, lack of enthusiasm, and niche appeal will prove detrimental to box office performance. It would only work in a handful of cities and urban multiplexes.