Badrinath Ki Dulhania

Now Playing: Radha Student of Year (one of my favorite songs)

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned” William Congreve

Or to paraphrase “Hell hath no fury like Desi Uncles scorned”

I think that this is the first movie of Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan that I have watched. Living in the US the past few years; it has been difficult to keep up with what is happening in Bollywood.

Looking up Alia and Varun; I discovered that Varun was actually David Dhawan’s son; and Alia is Pooja Bhatt’s sister. So this me give me context from the time I used to actually watch Hindi movies.

Varun Dhawan’s acting is a lot like Govinda’s in this movie which is to be expected as he is David Dhawans son. Badrinath Ki Dulhania is based in small town India; Jhansi and Kota to be specific. Badrinath Bansal and his friend are regular small town dudes who manage a matchmaking website similar to Shaadi.com. The movie is very much about everyday Indians who struggle to pay bills and who worry about their daughters marriage. I was expecting a straightforward RomCom but Badrinath Ki Dulhania is a serious movie that tackles dowry; womens rights; domestic abuse and many evils still prevalent in India’s patriarchal system.

To start out with Alia Bhatt’s character gets robbed by an ex lover who steals her fathers money. Badri meets Alia at a wedding and instantly takes a liking to her and starts pursuing her romantically. Alia makes it quite clear from the beginning that she is not interested. Varun is the son of a rich family with Rituraj as the family patriarch. Rituraj incidentally was the host of Tol Mol Ke Bol on Zee TV in the 90s.

In order to woo her Badri fixes Alia’s sister with a Mata ki Chauki Singer who travels the world singing with his family. Even a sophisticated family such as these ask for a steep dowry. No wonder the older adults from some sort of heart ailment worrying about their liabilities and assets (daughters and sons). The best part about the Singer husband is his Jai Mata Di song JMD. An updated take on Bhajans.

We stay in Jhansi for the first half of the movie; but at her sisters wedding altar Alia runs away from home. Her heart isn’t in settling down and marrying Badri and she wants to explore the outside world.

Eventually she ends up in Singapore. When Badri’s father finds out about her wherabouts he asks Badri to find her and bring her back home and teach her a lesson for the disrespect.

So we see a vengeful and heartbroken Varun travel to Singapore. It’s nice to see these small town villagers in the Big City. And as a small town girl myself; these city scenes were a nice relief from the facts of daily village life.

It’s here that Varun starts literally attacking and abusing Alia on the streets which results in him going to jail. Even kidnapping her and placing her in the hood of his car (a serious criminal offence). Sadly for Alia; she not only has to pay for his bail money she has also to risk her job; new life and reputation in a foreign country because of Varun.

Eventually the lead protagonists end up back home in Jhansi; and the Shadow of Jhansi Ki Rani Laxmibai; a textbook example of the Indian variety of feminism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rani_of_Jhansi

Rani of Jhansi

After threats of murder; dishonor and public humiliation of her parents Alia does marry Varun and settles down at home in Jhansi. It’s somewhat amazing that even in 2017 after all the economic liberalization. Life in India for women is the same as 2000 years ago; with people either the property of their husbands or other males in their extended family. Badrinath Ki Dulhania struck a chord with me; it evokes the God Shiva the epitome of the perfect man and husband but in the end the humans in the story are less than perfect.

The songs were just ok.”Humsafar, Tamma Tamma and the title song which sampled an older song stood out.