It’s ironic that an industry like Bollywood that celebrates perfectly coiffeured heroes should come out with not one but two movies within the span of two weeks dealing with the sensitive issue of premature hair loss among young men.
Last week, we were privy to Sunny Singh’s hair-raising story in Ujda Chaman and this week we have the talented Ayushmann Khurrana, playing a similar role. As Balmukund Shukla, a 20-something salesman, who is inflicted with premature balding, Khurrana is funny, endearing and extremely effective.
Director Amar Kaushik infuses a certain lightness and a whole lot of humour to the tale of the Kanpur boy whose claim to fame in his childhood was his Amitabh Bachchan-like hair with which he wooed all the girls much to the chagrin of his friend, Latika, who being dark-skinned had to settle for the not so ‘beautiful’ roles in the school play and suffer the taunts of Bala and the rest of society.
Things come to a head when the ‘Shah Rukh Khan from Kanpur’ falls in love with the ‘Supermodel from Lucknow’, TikTok sensation Pari Mishra. Yami Gautam plays Pari with absolute elan and she is a delight to watch as a girl obsessed with constantly looking good, whose only aim in life is to gather more likes for her videos.
The one who sticks out like a sore thumb in the entire story is unfortunately Latika. Now Bhumi Pednekar has defended her choice to play a dark-skinned woman in this film, following on from the success of her turn as a 60-year-old sharpshooter in Saand Ki Aankh. But for someone who seemingly is comfortable in her own skin, Latika is too touchy and keeps taunting Bala at every available opportunity over his bald pate.
The movie has a Dream Girl like sequence towards the end, where Bala as a stand-up comedian holds forth on the topic of self-acceptance. Just like Ujda Chaman, Bala’s transformation from an image-conscious youngster to one who is happy to embrace his bald patch is too contrived to make it entirely believable.
Saurabh Shukla as the father and Javed Jaffrey as Bala’s mentor, stand out among the supporting cast.
Overall, Bala is a feel-good, highly entertaining movie that will definitely make you laugh out loud, though we are not sure if the message of self-acceptance and being comfortable in your own skin is something that comes through convincingly. But one thing is guaranteed – you will walk out of the theatre with a feeling of empathy for those who are inflicted with this condition and a smile on your face.
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Yami Gautam, Bhumi Pednekar, Seema Pahwa, Saurabh Shukla, Javed Jaffrey
Rating: 3. 5 out of 5
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