- It is an amusing fare related to the tricky maneuverings LGBTQ couples have to go through to find societal acceptance.
This weekend, we had an unexpected snowstorm in the Southeast, so Netflix took precedence over other social activities. When I saw the title “Badhai Do” float into my feed, I tried to ignore it thinking I had already watched it but my remote hovered over the face of Rajkumar Rao and I pressed play.
“Badhai Do” (Offer Congratulations) is a 2022 Hindi dramedy film written by Suman Adhikary and Akshat Ghildial, and directed by Harshavardhan Kulkarni. The film is produced by Junglee Pictures. It is not a literal sequel of the hilarious comedy 2018 film “Badhaai Ho” directed by Amit Ravindernath, but it tries to emulate the prior film in addressing another relevant social issue.
Shardul (aka tiger, had to look up this name) Thakur played by Rajkumar Rao is a buff police officer of marriageable age. His widowed mother and his entire family are worried about his marriage. Suman Singh/Sumi (Bhumi Pednekar) meets a young man posing as a girl on a dating app. When she rejects his advances, he pesters her and threatens Sumi with blackmail. To Sumi’s relief, the cop takes care of the blackmailing boy and comes up with a proposal of marriage.
The relieved families celebrate the wedding of Shardul Thakur and Sumi Singh. Not only are these two physically well suited but they belong to the same caste. But the family is in the dark that this is “a marriage of convenience.” The protagonists belong to the LGBTQ community and the marriage is undertaken only to be accepted in their families and society at large.
The movie is fast-paced and is filmed in the rustic outdoor locales, winding roads and crisp air of Dehradun and the verdant hills of Mussoorie.
There is a brief honeymoon where Sumi meets Shardul’s boyfriend Kabir. After returning from their trip from what looks like Goa, Shardul and Sumi move into allotted police quarters. They live as roommates rather than a romantic couple but keep up pretenses among busybody neighbors. They even accommodate Sumi’s love interest Rimjhim, a lab tech in their home as a “cousin.”
Everything is going hunky-dory till the family starts putting pressure on the newlyweds to produce offspring. As a glue to cement their relationship. They are both clinically investigated without their volition. Congratulations are due to the producers and directors for throwing light on homosexuality in middle-class families.
Badhai is also due along with Raj Kumar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar to actors like Loveleen Mishra-Mrs. Singh, Suman’s mother, who is lost in her own world of trying to make sense of her family responsibilities by taking a pledge of silence and making a din with kitchen utensils. And Sheeba Chaddha as Mrs.Thakur, Shardul’s mother. Chaddha is exceptional in her grasp of the role as a widow. Her expressive, heavily kohled eyes and somewhat vacant expressions are rather droll. She is content with her passive existence, dunking rusks in her chai and allowing the extended family to dictate her life. She does not protest when she is bundled up and sent to the married couple’s home to keep an eye on their conjugal relations.
Mrs. Thakur tackles the sudden burst of activity in her life by bringing the viewers many laughs. She continuously seeks guidance from her co-sister, the burly and socially apt Seema Pahwa and even takes notes lest she has a memory lapse. Which she does! Her interaction with Sumi is hilarious, because she has no mean bone in her body, and is relieved to hand over her cheat sheet of instructions to her daughter-in-law. But when she discovers Sumi’s “real romantic partner” the way her face crumbles like rice in her rice pudding is phenomenal!
The LGBTQ orientation of the couples is met by their families with astonishment, denial, anger and finally a resigned acceptance like in the movie “Shubh Mangal Savdhaan.” The turn of events is dramatic but not derisive. Shardul confesses that he is equally to blame and they both agree upon a divorce. But Shardul finds out that their adoption plea is accepted. They decide to adopt a baby and lead a life in the way they wanted, thereby reclaiming their open marriage with the blessings of their families. It is worth watching at least once.
With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published hundreds of poems, movie reviews, book critiques, essays and contributed to combined literary works. Her two books are My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.