ENTERTAINMENT

It's 2017 And It's Shocking That A Film Like 'Badrinath Ki Dulhania' Actually Got Made

A love letter to stalking and harassment.

10/03/2017 4:48 PM IST | Updated 10/03/2017 5:11 PM IST
YouTube screenshot Dharma Productions

If Badrinath Ki Dulhania claims to be a love story, I can safely claim I am Neil Armstrong. You can call yourself Barack Obama and the noisy pigeon on your AC box Falguni Pathak.

I can now proceed to narrate the boy-spots-creature-with-breasts-and-they-live-happily-ever-after-in-Aki Narula-clothes story. Or I can tell you how said lover boy picks up said lover girl, tries to gag her, stuffs her inside the trunk of a car and drives around as she begs to be let out. And all's forgiven. Because, with two Arijit Singh songs that scream 'What kind of a pathhar dil naagin can't see this is love', you've been asked to believe that the boy doesn't deserve to be thrown into jail and be given two tight slaps. Instead he deserves to walk down the mandap with the girl he just grabbed like she's a plate of samosa. Pyaar. Ishq. Mohabbat. My foot.

If Badrinath Ki Dulhania claims to be a love story, I can safely claim I am Neil Armstrong.

Badrinath Ki Dulhania, as you can see, was probably aspiring to be in the tradition of sappy Bollywood films where dulhanias wait in a corner like credit cards, to be snapped up by a man who spend most of his waking hours in a gymnasium.

It begins with Badri (played by Varun Dhawan) spotting Vaidehi (Alia Bhatt) at a friend's wedding in Kota, Rajasthan. His lackey, a man called Somdev, immediately starts following the girl and her sister around with a camera, because, awww, what else are men supposed to do if not sneakily take photos of women? They don't stop at that, they turn up at the girls' house when they're not there to convince their parents to share their 'kundali' and other details. Badri, after one dance at the wedding and a conversation that lasted less than a minute, has decided he wants to marry her.

Actually, I have a similar relationship with chicken biryani, so at this point, I am only willing to call the boy just stupid.

Actually, I have a similar relationship with chicken biryani, so at this point, I am only willing to call the boy just stupid. There's a glimmer of hope when Vaidehi tells Badri over Skype that she doesn't want to marry him and will report him for molestation if he persists. Hero's lackey, who can operate a tablet and Facetime, tries to pronounce molestation and can't — the entire half-full auditorium breaks out laughing. I can hear mostly male voices chortling. Funny, na?

The next part of the film rests on the boy trying to woo the girl. How? By trying to find her sister a husband and also arrange dowry for her. When all that falls into place — husband, dowry, patriarchy-wrapped-in-peppy-songs — Vaidehi too decides she will marry Badri. But then, she gets cold feet. And I am going all #BhagwanNeMeriSunli.

But I soon realise, this isn't my lucky day. So, Badri tries to abduct the girl, beats up a man randomly because he's heartbroken, threatens to hit the girl but says love is holding him back, nearly strangles her, beats up another man he sees Vaidehi laughing and talking to, gets drunk and accosts guards at her workplace. And all this while, as I mince the popcorn like it was responsible for writing the script, the woman flutters around the boy like she was wrong in not marrying this peanut which has mutated into a violent humanoid.

The next part of the film rests on the boy trying woo the girl. How? By trying to find her sister a husband and also arrange dowry for her.

At one point, Badri asks Vaidehi, "Have I ever misbehaved with you, tried to hurt you?" I almost feared he will next demand to be made the President of the country because, come on, that's really a talent — not being violent to a woman. A sad music played in the background. I imagined it was for the film's viewers and the slow demise of their brains.

As if I had very little doubt left over the filmmaker's complete misinterpretation of the term 'gender equality', they have a sequence where they have the beefcake hero accosted. How? By men in masks, grabbing, pinching, molesting him and tearing his clothes off. Then, in what the filmmaker must have thought was a classic 'empowering' case of 'role reversal', the girl gives her stole to the boy to cover his exposed chest. Everyone laughs. Inside the film and outside it. And I wish I could turn into popcorn and not have to bear the burden of having to call myself a human being.

A sad music played in the background. I imagined it was for the film's viewers and the slow demise of their brains.

The film's concept of women's rights, gender equality and basic human decency is more confusing than the BJP ad asking people to plant trees so that they can be sold off to pay for their daughters' weddings.

Oh, you might say Badri is an inspiring man — to mobile phone companies. What Badri is in the film, mobile towers should be in real life. He unfailingly follows the girl when she's off to college in a bus, or making a trip to the local temple, having a cup of coffee in the balcony after a long workday or walking into the college in the morning.

There was an important disclaimer/warning that Badrinath Ki Dulhania missed showing. That stalking is injurious to health and can land you in jail. And that the events and characters in the film are purely fictitious and trying to achieve any resemblance with them in real life won't land you a dulhania. But a criminal record? Sure.

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