Badhai Do Movie Review, Rajkumar Rao, Bhumi New Movie

The patriarchal structure of society affects men and women equally. We rarely talk about the former. If a woman is expected to be light-skinned and adept at handling snow, the man must assume the role of provider—strong and all things “masculine.” 

Serious Story

 In this case, the lesbian woman and gay man don’t have enough legroom to stand tall – hiding their identities and natural inclinations to conform. Badhaai Do gives us two such characters, Shardul (Rajkummar Rao) and Sumi (Bhumi Pednekar) and tries to weave a story of how these two ‘misfits’ reconcile with each other’s help.  

  Bhumi’s Sumi is a physical education teacher and a lesbian. As Shardul, Rajkummar is a police officer and gay. He is sunaoed as a ladko wala profession jiski education bhi nahi hoti and he lives in constant fear of exposure.

 A gay man in uniform is a sitting duck, he will be teased, mocked, humiliated. As Onir’s ongoing battle will tell you, it doesn’t even exist! When a guy posing as a woman on a same-sex dating app meets Sumi and confidently says “aapne kabhi ladko se try ne kiya?” when he asks, their worlds collide. Carlo humare saath, girlfriend banne ko nahi bol raha hoon.’ 

 As a cisgender woman, I cringe at these piercing insults hurled at our hero. And perhaps that’s exactly what director Harshavardhan Kulkarni was going for. More than the heroes of the story, he wanted to bring up the lines, insults, insults that we knowingly or unknowingly throw at another person just because he is a little different from our worldview. And sensitize us in the process. But he is not successful all the way.


 Like Leech, Bollywood sometimes holds on to certain topics and just doesn’t want to let it go. Of course, we have come a long way from Dostana or even Student of the Year, but then films like Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan or Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh are already at our disposal. Harshavardhan Kulkarni introduces the concept of ‘marriage of convenience’ into the mix which gives the film something fresh.

  Humor is always a key weapon when telling such off-beat stories aimed at Aam janta. The argument is that “we want to inform people while entertaining them”. Humor, satire and sarcasm were created at a time when speaking the truth would cost you. After September 2018, when homosexuality was decriminalized in India, humor should not have been Bollywood’s stance. You don’t have to hide behind the cloak of jokes to tell these stories, and instead go head-to-head to portray them as slice-of-life. But it still is and will always be problematic. 

 In fact, Shardul, who is gay, calls himself “Homo Cop”, a reference to RoboCop. At his most vulnerable, he says that this is what expresses his deepest pain, we understand. But somewhere it makes us squirm again. Likewise, when he assumes the role of ‘man’ even in his fictitious marriage with Sumi. What are we trying to wake up if we swallow sleeping pills at the same time? 

The Message 

 And sometimes, the message gets lost in the hearty laugh served to the audience. Well, you might say, “those who understand, those who understand,” but if that was the case, why choose the mass entertainment route?

  Performance-wise, Rajkummar Rao has very little to fault. He is absolutely brilliant on screen. Bhumi Pednekar also does her bit. But somewhere she is stuck in the box where Bollywood embraces her – from Dum Laga Ke Haisha to Toilet: Ek Prem Katha to Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, a spunky woman with a soft core. 

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