Badrinath ki Dulhania is a romantic comedy written and directed by Shashank Khaitan, and starring Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt in the lead roles and with Sahil Vaid, Rituraj Singh, and Gauhar Khan as part of the supporting cast. This film is the second installment of a franchise that started with the 2014 rom-com Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. However, the plot and characters are entirely different. Badrinath Ki Dulhania presents the tale of a Jhansi boy who falls in love with a girl from Kota. However, she has some reservations about the relationship and so he must go the extra mile to convince her fully.
Badrinath Ki Dulhania highlights the family and societal pressures that young people in our country must deal with before and after marriage. Finding the right match is always a challenge, for there are so many criteria for compatibility. After all, marriage is just not a union of two individuals but an alliance of two families. Traditionally, the social liability on the bride's family is much higher, especially owing to unreasonable dowry demands made by the groom's family. Then there is pressure on women to quit working and take the role of a homemaker once they get married. Of course, there is great pressure on men as well.
The only respite comes from Varun Dhawan and Sahil Vaid, whose bromance is the movie's highlight.
As a rom-com revolving around the theme of marriage, Badrinath Ki Dulhania promises everything that one would expect from a commercial Bollywood film of its kind. For Bollywood, marriage is a bankable subject like no other. As a matter of fact, some of the biggest commercial hits in the history of Hindi cinema have dealt with the theme of marriage. For example, Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! (1994) or Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) successfully exploited the Indian sentimentality for the traditions and rituals associated with marriage. And the trend has continued with more recent films such as Band Baaja Baaraat, Tanu Weds Manu, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Tanu Weds Manu Returns.
Unfortunately, while Badrinath Ki Dulhania starts on a brilliant note it loses its focus half-way despite some hilarious moments in the first half. The result is a half-cooked rom-com that leaves one disappointed. The only respite comes from Varun Dhawan and Sahil Vaid whose bromance is the movie's highlight. Sadly, Alia fails match the magic of her previous films. Given the talent it showcases, Badrinath Ki Dulhania can best be described as a wasted opportunity.
A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.