Badrinath Ki Dulhania

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My review on Badrinath Ki Dulhania got stuck in the recalcitrant wheels of my computer, who decided to sulk just when I started to write it out. Thus the delay and my having come across varied views to the film and so having had time to think those through as well.

 Films, like food are individual in taste and likes and My impression though, remains the same and I like and enjoyed the film, as I had its precursor, “Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania”.

The film begins on an off-putting but truthful note, describing the birth of girls as liabilities and of boys as assets in the narrow mindsets of people. And then proceeds to state many more facts, which are part of our daily lives, and are all to do with not giving women their due respect and choices. A lot of it, while appearing extremely offensive to the more fortunate of us, is the bald truth of large parts of our country. Dowry, not being allowed to take up a job, kowtowing to a despotic husband-the issues women face. They are not always dramatic headlines. Rather, they are occurrences in our lives which happen to people we know well and around us.

(I recalled many situations which I had witnessed directly or fairly close to home-specifically to do with dowry, aborting female foetuses, not being allowed to work and underestimating women generally. All of these in and around the metros.)

What the film showed was that these issues are part of the conditioning we receive while growing up and shedding all or any of them is as difficult for women as is for men. Once the realisation, does happen, it is gradual, and one just has to keep it at it. Childhood conditioning can be deep and hard to budge and even acknowledging that a change is needed is a huge step forward-both for men and women.

So

 Badrinath Bansal, 10th pass, son of a rich, tyrannical through illness kind of dad, resident of Jhansi, good natured chap. Life for him means marriage with a girl with good dowry, approved by father and joining into the family business and raising a brood of children.

Meets

Vaidehi Trivedi- feisty younger daughter, ambitious, pretty and resident of Kota. Cheated out of her dad’s money by the apparent love of her life, she remains valiant in her drive to become a career person –all of this without a ‘naari mukti morcha (women’s liberation march)’ but in a steadfast and spunky way.

Badrinath declares intention to marry Vaidehi and engineers a proposal being sent to her parents. Aghast when she says a firm no and threatens him with the cops if he persists, he  is unable to wrap this novel concept of a girl not wanting to marry at all, and not marry him (!) and exhibits a spot of harassment but is promptly harassed right back. However, friendly relations are established.

Badri agrees to help her find a groom for her older sister (in an attempt to further his own cause) and actually succeeds! At which point Vaidehi, under some pressure, agrees to marry him as well. Badri also arranges for the shortfall in the dowry amount asked and discovers then, that his quiet, soft-spoken bhabhi (sister-in-law) is the brains behind his brother’s business success and that she can cook the books as well she does lunch (well just this onceJ). This is perhaps the beginning of Badri’s change –the realisation that a woman can be educated and qualified and yet be forced to stifle her own desires because”papa ne mana kar diya (my father forbade it.)”

The day dawns for the nuptials, and while the elder one gets hitched, Badrinath gets ditched. Vaidehi follows her heart and takes off to become an air hostess. Heartbroken and bewildered, he expresses his angst with violence. On his father’s caveman like instructions, he leaves to bring her back and flog her publicly for the embarrassment she had caused.

Except that he is faced with a Vaidehi who is financially independent, good at her job and has prospects of a flourishing career. She counters his anger with an apology but tries to get him to see her point of view. Over time, Badrinath finds his views changing slowly and steadily……

Badrinath is enacted very well by Varun Dhawan and one can see the metamorphosis from the set in thoughts and ways “man” to empathetic, thinking person. From his brash almost stalker to his declaration of independence to his emotionally blackmailing father (aided by spirits), he visibly evolves.

Alia as Vaidehi (interesting choice of name-one of Sita’s.) is brave, vulnerable and committed all at the same time. She takes a bold step to find her place in the sun, but loses none of her focus. Professional and hard working but missing her family very much, she does well, though not as brilliantly as in some of her other films.

These two are ably supported by Rituraj Singh as Badri’s heart clutching blackmailing father, Shweta Basu Prasad as his bhabhi and many more.

The dialogues are funny in parts and the look and feel very colourful. There is the hallmark Karan Johar synchronised song and dance. The music includes a reprisal of “tamma tamma loge’ from Thanedaar  (1989) which had Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt look awful .This version was far more fun! Distinct notes of “pinjre wali muniya”from Teesri Kasam (1966) played out in the title track. The rest of the music was lacklustre.

As a second time director, Shashank Khaitan has handled his story, his actors and his film very well, and in just the right tone. One hopes he continues to make his films just so in the future as well.

On the whole, it is a fun, frothy film which does not turn preachy and does not portray dramatic, overnight transformations of thought and action. It shows that the jagged rocks of age old prejudices and subjugation can be smoothened through relentless efforts and the willingness to be open to change. And yes-the occasional confrontation or two does wonders!

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Are you listening Mr. Kejriwal?

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A drama is currently being played out at the North Block. The Chief Minister of Delhi-no less, is sitting on a “dharna”-protest. To begin with, he had wanted some policemen suspended for dereliction of duty, without any enquiry. The list of demands includes as of now suspension of the same policemen and Delhi Police to report to The Delhi Government immediately. There are others.

We are 4 days away from our 64th Republic Day. Security in the Capital-always a Herculean task for the agencies-has assumed the proportions of a mammoth nightmare.

Yet-they battle the cold and the rain to provide security to a CM who seems to behaving more like a recalcitrant 4 year old and less like the educated 45 year he is.

The jury is divided. Some are slamming him. Some are supporting saying that desperate times call for desperate measures. They say this is perhaps the only way to change things.

Change. Watching the drama play out- I contemplate change. A typhoon in its wake also leaves devastated change as does a flood or a war. Then again a flowing river wroughts gentle change as it smoothens the rocks in its path as does reviving rain, bringing to life the parched earth.

The choice of what kind of change we seek or want to bring about lies within us.

Mr. Kejriwal-are you listening?

You have been selected as the agent of change. Your poll promises and insidious campaigns seemed to offer just that. Magical means to rid the country of its evils. The masses need a hero to fight their cause and you became just that for them. However, in these times of instant gratification, the change sought for was expected instantly.

Magically. A wand to swish the bad away. A potion for strength to fight it. But hey-The tree the wand came from took time to grow and become wand worthy. That any potion worth its salt takes time to brew and gain strength. That magic is only in Harry Potter’s books and EVEN he took –with all the advantages of speed in fiction-7 books and as many years to defeat Voldemort! That magic is also an illusion.

Fine Fine. All poll campaigns are like that. Conceded.  Post that however, would it not have made sense for you to take over the reins and take some “settling time”? Ostensibly you do have 5 years. Surely a month of acclimatisation and orientation would have helped? You see, however corrupt the previous government may have been (as repeatedly stated by you)-there is sure to have been SOME governance happening. Paperwork, procedures? To initiate any change, I’m sure you needed to first know what to change there?  Yes of course- the public who voted you to power wanted and sought the magic wand. As the leader of your party it would not have been difficult for you to buy time diplomatically while you settled in. And everyone in a new job needs to find their feet.

You are not a seasoned politician and the importance of statecraft is not to be laughed at in governance. Yes-your inexperience may be your biggest strength, given the cause of corruption you have chosen to fight. But a measure of diplomacy IS needed. The rot of decades, will not get swept in one wield of the broom. It will take brooms of many varieties, some scrubbing and perhaps a while lot of pest control before some measure of change occurs. Why not give some patience a chance and work towards that? The river flowing gently?

All you seem to be doing is resorting to jingoism and knee jerk reactions. If you do have a game plan to govern this city, only small coterie is probably privy to that information. A coterie strongly in need of etiquette classes by the way. Is there a method to your madness? Or is madness the only method? Why else would you resort to holding the Home Ministry to ransom, in a highly sensitive security zone, with the biggest national event of the country around the corner?

Are you perhaps encouraging lawlessness with your proclamation of being an anarchist and your actions? The crowds you assemble are not peaceful. You abuse the same policemen that you ask help from. A feeling of unrest prevails in the city. You mock the Republic Day even. Astounding. THIS is definitely not the change you were voted in for. There is a time and place for action, and this is NOT it. You are compromising the security of Delhi Mr. CM. Very irresponsible of you.

And who is running Delhi while you squat and then sleep at Rail Bhavan? Perhaps the previous government set it up so well that it runs by itself on oiled wheels, leaving you free to choose your “dharna”? No you say? Hmm so then? Barring then the 50 files you cleared….other business?????

Your present stunt-no other word for it-has riled people-yes-even the aam aadmi who voted for you. We are not fighting the freedom struggle here. Realistically-The people want an ideal, honest, clean world-without having to do much for it. The “hero” has to do the leg work. So if you expect the populace to get misty eyed at your “dharna” and join it in droves -think again.

There are livings to be earned, offices to be reached, education to be provided. The same aam aadmi has to also live his daily life. To expect him to be noble and sacrificing about being stuck in traffic, crowded metro stations or anywhere-specially in this cold is very unrealistic of you. Will they never be that misty eyed- sure they will. They will also make sacrifices, do a Satyagraha and join your dharna. But not in less than 30 days of your being at the helm of affairs. It took us over a 100 years to get free of the Brits- and at the time there was a singularity in the aim. EVERYONE wanted them out. The fervour was different. Today-there are vested interests, pressure groups, diversionary tactics-all employed to de-rail any activity. To counter all that, garner public support and bring change are not then a wave of the wand are they? They need to be built up with some planning, thought and yes-“rajneeti”-however noble the intention may be.

You have not invested in the people of Delhi yet Mr. CM. Mere rhetoric does not get “bhagidari” from them.  Refusing a house befitting a CM does not do it. Nor does self-righteousness-which you anyway belie with your words- “I am the CM of Delhi. The Home Minister does not tell me where to sit. I tell him”. The arrogance of new found power?

A spot of hard work and planning. Implementation. A little less talking. A lot more work. That’s what it takes.

All eyes are on you today. The supporters in admiration. The detractors hoping for you to falter in style. The fence sitters with interest, no doubt making up their minds quickly now.  All of them are waiting – to see how well you utilise this rare opportunity to be a harbinger of the tremendous change you promised. Only time will tell, if you will be revered for your actions or ridiculed for them.

Time, perhaps for you to get your act together?