Badhaai Ho, a different Hindi film

Radhakanta Barik

Indian society is having the majority of population between 30 to 60 years. This is the demographic gift to Indian society who is in a productive ag. They are adding to wealth by doing value addition. They are the most reproductive age group who sustains our civilization by having children. Both in economic sense and demographic sense their contribution cannot be underplayed. But our Bollywood which produces the largest number of films every year in the world do not speak about them. Their silence is mischievous and negative to our cultural world. Cultural production is being done by actors belonging to these age groups. But the problems they want to express only about the young or youth rather than their problems.  Art and literature carry their experiences as they are the matured artists to write something new. They portray the world around them. Film makers do not want to take their problems and conflicts in our society. This is an artistic dilemma. All the middle aged actors want to dance around the tree and sing a romantic song rather than sing a song expressing their feelings of the world. In the film Badhaai Ho hit the screens a couple of weeks ago. These actors Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta both want to speak in the film a story of their age group. They have crossed fifty having two adult children but having an active sexual life which is disapproved by the neighborhood and kith and kin. They live in a government quarter with small rooms to themselves and one bed in the drawing room for their mother. Their children both live in another separate room. Both of them while in their room feel more sexually excited while enjoying the rains outside. Rain drops falling on the glass pane of their windows. As husband wife they feel romantic which ends in having sex with each other. This is a natural activity but leading to pregnancy of his wife.

It is debated by their neighbors in a critical manner. They have visited to their close relative's house to attend the marriage of a close relative's daughter. As all the relatives look at him and his wife by raising their eyebrows. This brings out a wordy duel with his wife by which they frowned at her by looking at her pregnant body. She does not feel embarrassed but she gets defended by her old mother in law. Her mother in law being old carries a tradition with her. Here she interprets the tradition in a creative manner that her daughter in law has done wise thing in her life as she has two children and she wants to add to family with another child. A child's birth in a tradition brings joys and happiness. But modernity looks at the joys and happiness with doubt. Our modernity has lacked rationality which brings conflict between tradition and modernity. Our modern people including educated people without reasoning frown at the middle-aged pregnant woman. Two elderly actors can entertain by telling a story in a creative manner with their smile and language.  Their style is ridden with a sense of humour which keeps the audience laughing while seeing the film. Here it brings the Hriday of the artists with Shrihriday the audience which creates a moment of aesthetic pleasure.  The camera moves on the old mother Sikri an outstanding actor sees the world through her specs and have a ripple in the family environment. This is a film for entertaining the crowd by reinventing the film tradition left by Basu Chattherjee and Basu Bhattacharjee.

The story of the film Badhaai Ho has relevance in our life. My parents having four children decided to go fifth one as the rural households having more sons which give them more property and used martial strength to have political power.  As my mother had pregnancy she faced a stiff opposition from his elder educated son and educated daughter in law. It is ironical that my Bhabi was pregnant at that time. These caricatures from her own relatives and neighborhood created problems for her. She did not know what was the termination of pregnancy. Some elderly woman of our village took her to the hospital in the nearby town where the doctor gave some medicines which created problems for her health. Her liver got spoiled by these medicines. In the process she suffered from serious disease which resulted in her death at the age of forty-five. It was a great loss for me and our family.  Specifically I was close to my mother. My youngest baby brother became a burden on me.  A rural society has undergone changes in social values with the entry of modernity. The educated people lacked rationality and think in a more selfish manner than the older traditional people.  They think in terms of selfish manner  for which they opposed my mother’s pregnancy. This happened in the film which is a real story of rural and urban India. Sexual life of married people has got disoriented with the influence of modernity without any empathy for each other. My grandfather and father supported my mother but she felt embarrassed by her son and daughter in law which resulted in her death.

This story located in two bed roomed sarkari house where space is limited compared with a big bungalow owned by a single woman staying in spacious house with the garden.  But human consciousness does not increase with the physical space of the house. Mental space needs an education and critical analysis which is  absent with the single lady who advises her daughter who is in love with the young man not to pursue her love affair with the lower class man which may result in a financial burden on her.  While she is talking to her daughter her boyfriend hears the story and gets furious and expresses his anger on the land lady. This results in disruption of their love life.

In the school where his young brother   a student gets hassled by his class mates because of mother’s pregnancy. There are some squabbles among them. This leads an intervention of his brother where physical violence erupts against them.  

In their sarkari colony there are people caricaturing their mother’s pregnancy. By standing in their balconies they demand the sweets from his father. Balcony stands for the educated people without having their roots in their own soil. Such empty shelled beings without empathize with their neighbor creates troubles for them.  He gets some sniping remarks while taking tea with friends. Some of them speak behind of his mother’s pregnancy. This results in bitterness and unhappy moments in their small world of friends.

The art of storytelling is being handled by the director Ravinder Sharma in an artistic manner. The audience keeps engaged with the listening story and enjoy the jokes in both verbal and facial manner.  The audience gets an aesthetic pleasure by seeing the incident of birth of the child and marriage of young man with his girlfriend. Keeping engaging the audience by telling the story till the end is the duty of film director. This is helping in inventing a tradition of storytelling left by Hrishikesh Mukherjee who used to tell the story in a creative manner. After four decades from his grave yard Hrishi Da must be smiling by seeing the film Badhei Ho.

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Jun 19, 2020

Prof. Radhakanta Barik

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