Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Badhaai Do--an LGBT film from conservative India

 I admit I laughed a lot through the first part of this film, "Badhaai Do"  (2022)on Netflix.  Towards the end it became more serious.  One character, Shadur was a gay policeman while the other, Sumi was a lesbian teacher who met when he was asked to scare off a man who wanted to blackmail her.  Once Shadur learned from the blackmailer that she was a lesbian he decided getting married to her  would solve a lot of problems.  She agreed and they soon got married.  Both had parents pressuring them into a traditional marriage and they each came up with excuses that they had tired of using. 

After they got married the pressure moved on to have a baby.  They both had formed attachments outside their marriage and were desperate to keep their secret, but sooner or later you know they would be outed.  The two were successful in fooling family for quite a while providing the viewer with lots of laughs. 

Then the laughing stopped as you realized both families were very upset, feeling they had perverts living among them and had been deceived.  The rest of the movie is a coming out process where they don't want to fool anyone, just to be true to themselves.  It is a bit uneasy to watch as there is lots of rejection.  Perhaps the ending (I left out a few details) is hard to believe, but comforting.

The director and main writer, Harshavardhan Kulkarni graduated with a degree in Petro-chemical engineering.  He is the son of an award winning Kannada poet.  For Canadians, Kannada has no connection to Canada, but is a language with a lot of speakers.  He broke into Bollywood in 2006 as a writer and producer for a tv. show, "The Chosen One."  From there he wrote and directed a few films.  He wrote, "Hasee Toh Phasee" (2014).

Aayush Agrawal provided the idea for the film.  He has had a career as producer, writer mostly with tv. series including one, "Human" (2022). Worked with Disney and Netflix.  Involved in animal welfare, mental health, and LGBTQI projects.

Tanishk Bagchi provided the music which was mostly joyful.    His films include, "Kapoor & Sons" (2016), "Badrinath Ki Dulhania" (2017), "Lucknow Central" (2017)

The cinematography was handled by Swapnil S. Sonawane.  He has filmed "Angry Indian Goddesses" (2015),  "Newton" and "Sacred Games" (2018-19), "Half Girlfriend" (2017), "Bareilly Ki Barfi" (2017),  "Shubh Mangal Savdhan" (2017), "Ittefaq" (2017), "Zero" (2018) and "Good Newwz" (2019).

The editing was done by Kirti Nakhwa as his second feature.  He won an award for a previous short film.

The casting was handled by Shiv Chauhan who worked with "Qarib Qarib Single" (2017) and "Stree" (2018).

Bhumi Pednekar plays Sumi the lesbian phys ed teacher.  First noticed in "Dum Laga Ke Haisha" (2015), an unusual romance where she played an overweight bride that had been arranged to solve a revenue problem.  She went onto a number of memorable films such as  "Toilet: Ek Prem Katha" (2017), "Shubh Mangal Savdhan" (2017)  and "Bala" (2019).   Having gained a lot of weight to get a role she lost a lot of weight to get other roles, but fortunately she is a very credible actress.

Rajkummar Rao plays Inspector Shardul as a vain man, obsessed with body build.  He acted in two theatrical groups before heading to the films.  He has been on a streak of films including "Shaitan" (2011), "Shahid" (2012), "Talaash" (2012), "Kai Po Che" (2013), "Queen" (2013), "Hamari Adhuri Kahani" (2015), "Trapped" (2016), "Bareilly Ki Barfi" (2017), Stree" (2018), "Made in China" (2019), "Ludo" (2020) and "White Tiger" (2021).

Chum Darang plays Sumi's lover Rimjhim and works in a medical lab that collects samples which plays a role in the story.  This is only her second film.

Gushan Devaiah plays Guru, the partner for Shardul who breaks away after the marriage, but plays a role later on.  He started in films in 2010 and includes "Shaitan" (2011) and "RamLeela" (2013).

Movies are becoming more progressive in the world and in India.  Some adopt a humorous approach and others deadly serious.  "Badhaai Do" strikes a balance.  The presentation is professional and story like.  You will laugh, but you will also feel the angst of those who feel they must hide their true feelings.  

I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.  These are well respected film makers.

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