Dharma Productions and Shashank Khaitan’s latest movie titled ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, is a run-of-the-mill romcom with a couple of deep-rooted social messages. These messages are integral to the plot and aren’t merely added as frills to tease the appetite of the righteous. Pitched as a potboiler, the film delves into prominent matters such as gender equality and dowry.
The movie is set in the historic town of Jhansi. Badrinath Bansal (Varun Dhawan) is a directionless lout content with running collections for his moneylender father. His world changes when he meets Vaidehi Trivedi (Alia Bhatt), a neoteric woman, waiting to break free from the shackles of archaic India. The movie serves as an education for Badri, and many other like-minded men, who have been raised to consider women as inferior and submissive. A famous critic described this film as “feminism-lite”, which is exactly what it is.
Shashank makes a strong point on gender equality without ever overstating his stance. He also manages to take a half-hearted stab at dowry; the evil practice of placing a monetary value on human beings in the institution of marriage. But, he never forgets that at the core of it all, ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ is actually a commercial rom-com. So, we got large doses of comedy, served fantastically by the incredibly hilarious Sahil Vaid. Romance is adequately attended to by Varun Dhawan, who is unapologetically uncouth, but sincerely affectionate. Alia rarely has to flex a muscle in this movie and breezes through the film with ease. Varun and Alia’s comfort level is evident, making them one of Hindi cinema’s favorite on-screen couples.
There are some uncomfortable concerns, though. Badri visibly stalks Vaidehi in his desperate pursuit of her and in his attempt to win her affection. That behavior is never addressed or condemned. The second half, set largely in Singapore, moves like a rudderless ship. A large part of the writing effort was clearly invested in the first half, which is thoroughly engaging. The viewer must exercise patience as Badri and Vaidehi go through tumultuous times overseas for no apparent reason.
Ultimately, ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ isn’t quite as entertaining as ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’. But, it does make a lot more sense.