Shashank Khaitan

Movie Review
Badrinath Ki Dulhania (ANOTHER TAKE):Evolution of Shashank Khaitan

'Badrinath Bansal urf Badri'. With such an innocent narcissistic grin on his face after he takes his name with pride and looks at the camera, right there you know this character. He thinks he is the most handsome guy in the whole state of UP, not just Jhansi (where he lives). Although he is too self-centred, his innocence overpowers his inflated ego. He has studied till 10th standard and he doesn’t know the full form of IIT or the formula of simple interest (which he later learns), and he doesn’t even care. In that sense, he is not a snobbish. He is honest with himself and it is this honesty which makes him realize the hypocrisy of his family, the patriarchal predominance and the pseudo masculinity which he has subconsciously inherited, unfortunately.

Badrinath Ki Dulhania is a story of this guy from Jhansi who goes through an arc of change when his Dulhania betrays him for her career (not a spoiler, trust me!). He is a guy who is adamant to bring back her in his life by not making her his dulhaniya but becoming her dulha (metaphorically, two different things).

Shashank Khaitan manages to pull off the emotional trigger quite smartly without making it preachy (okay, a little, in the end). Although having a similar sounding name, his new film is entirely different from his directorial debut Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. The major difference between the two is in the treatment of the plot, or in the plot itself. Humpty Sharma had a misogynist attitude, a lot of male ego and was living with a wrong idea of masculinity (remember the dhaba eve teasing secene?). Shashank, infact unintentionally promoted patriarchy in that film. Badrinath, on the other hand, is although happy to be a part of patriarchal system in the start, somewhere his sense of righteousness for is glanced. When he respects his sister-in-law for her talent and regrets for having wasted that talent because of his own family, we know that somewhere his sense of feminism is there, hidden under chauvinism. I wonder if Shashank too, just like Badrinath, went over an arc of change.

Varun Dhawan has a tailor-made role for him which, not surprisingly, he carries so well that somewhere in the middle of the film, it is just Badri who we see, not Varun. Alia Bhatt (playing Vaidehi Trivedi) stumbles in her performance in the beginning when all that hum sounds quite fake. She picks up soon and delivers another such performance which we all expect from her. Some of the supporting characters are retained, like Poplu becomes Somdev and Humpty’s another friend Shonty becomes Badri’s friend too, played by Gaurav Pandey. Rituraj Singh who plays Badri’s father is terrific in his patriarch attire. Even Badri’s brother and sister-in-law and Vaidehi’s sister and father (played by Swanand Kirkire) are quite believable characters.

Shashank makes sure that the love does not just happen between two characters but two neighbouring cities also. It was Delhi-Ambala in Humpty’s story, while Badrinath living in Jhansi falls in love with Vaidehi living in Kota. The first half of the film is what the most audience would enjoy. It’s entertaining throughout. Shashank’s forte is dialogue. In both the films, the entertainment lies in dialogue. Humpty was more about punches, while Badrinath has less of that and more of the way the characters approach a line. It is the accent, the slangs, and the tone that brings out most of the entertaining moments in the film. Second half is serious and feels longer. The Singapore part should have been crisper to keep the viewers glued. The transformation of Badri’s character in the second half is praiseworthy in terms of writing.

The film gets loud at times and gives a sense of 90s romantic dramas and just like Badri in the film reminds his father “Yeh 2017 hai!!”, we too feel the need to remind the same to the director. But if you look at it from a different point of view, all that looks like a spoof, a mockery at traditional family dramas. That’s why the names are chosen so cleverly. Badrinath, Aloknath, Viadehi, Somdev, and even the police officer in Singapore played by Gauhar Khan has the name Laxmi Shankar. Infact, the names that Badri thinks of for his kids are Rukmani and Vaishnaavi. So, it’s Rajshri (Productions) going comic.

With Badrinath Ki Dulhania, writer-director Shashank Khaitan moves away from the masculinity of the first film and explores femininity while evolving as a storyteller.

   Prakhar Khare

A film buff who loves to read, write and analyze cinema, literature and music and connect them with life.

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