Badhaai Do director says they didn’t just want to be accepted by the public: ‘We want to be allies’
Badhaai Ho, the film that was one of the biggest surprise hits of 2018, made Hindi audiences and filmmakers sit up and notice that mainstream movies can think outside the box and still work wonders. . The film was a big hit at the box office and even won a National Film Award. Four years later, the producers of Badhaai Ho are back with a “spiritual sequel” titled Badhaai Do. Starring Bhumi Pednekar and Rajkummar Rao, Badhaai Do is directed by Harshvardhan Kulkarni. The film is based on the theme of lavender wedding (where a man and a woman, who are gay, pretend to be straight and get married to avoid social/parental pressure), and like many other movies in a similar space, this one too is a comedy.
Harshvardhan shared with us that his way of looking at the subject was “a little ironic” and not a requirement imposed on him. “That’s how I like cinema. It’s in the middle of the road, it’s funny, quirky and full of life and obviously there’s a lot of emotion too,” he said. That being said, Harshvardhan added that the humor in a movie like this doesn’t have to be slapstick or juvenile; it can be parody, irony, or just go dark. “You laugh but you feel the pain inside, it’s very delicately woven into this movie. I wouldn’t call it a funny movie or a comedic movie. It’s how you might be moved despite the fact that you were laughing all the time,” he said.
In the recent past, movies like Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhanand Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga have dealt with queer topics and gained public acceptance. But in Badhaai Do’s case, Harshvardhan said, they wanted to do more. He shared that other movies are waiting for “audience tolerance because it’s about the queer community.” With Badhaai Do, he said, “We took it a step further and said we were going to be allies. We’re not just going to be accepting, tolerant, empathetic and all that. We are actually going to be allies. This idea of being an ally was woven into the script as Harshvardhan explained that none of the characters’ family members know their sexual orientation, but the audience is aware of this information early on. “The public knows and is part of their journey. They go through it all, which doesn’t have to be serious all the time,” he said.
But humor, as we know, is subjective. The queer community is still far from fully accepted in mainstream cinema, but today’s audiences are vocal enough to crack insensitive jokes or tear up politically incorrect statements. Despite the filmmakers’ caution, there have been gaffes in the past. Does this lead to many doubts? He shared that in order to deal with something like this, it’s necessary that they be “not so adamant” about their decisions and create an inclusive workspace, which includes hiring consultants from the community. “We had a script consultant who is from the queer community and so there was enough give and take. I love working like this,” he said. Harshvardhan added that not just one person, they shared the script “with a group of people”. He added: “So many things have been told to us. Some things we felt were ‘yaar, it’s okay, we’re ready to take this flak’. Because it will never be 100% politically correct. Your policy might be very different from mine, but there is always a bigger picture to stick to. We took great care in doing this and not just guessing. »
While the film’s two main leads hail from the queer community, Harshvardhan shared that there’s more to their characters. He shared, “There’s a line in the movie where Bhumi’s character explains to someone that ‘our sexuality isn’t the only thing about us’.” He talked about the many other facets of his life – his parents, his work as a physical therapy teacher, his friends and “so many other things that have nothing to do with his sexual orientation. I am also interested in exploring these facets.
Badhaai Do’s two-and-a-half-minute trailer introduces audiences to the film’s setup, the Lavender Wedding, and Harshvardhan told us that the film doesn’t celebrate the Lavender Wedding, but they really wanted to explore the reason for its existence. He shared, “The queer community was afraid of discrimination from family and society because, for society and family, homosexuality was wrong. That’s why people were in the closet. He explained it in the context of Badhaai Do, “These characters decide that it’s a good way to live, like roommates. Like getting married and not being pressured by our parents. You’ll find that nobody going to celebrate this, this is just the set up.
Harshvardhan added that a film simply cannot be about liberated people and that audiences need to understand the root of the problem. “For people to understand, they have to understand it locally. It will probably have a wider reach and I think it could convert people to becoming allies in the future,” he concluded on a hopeful note.
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