Badrinath is looking for a typical bride; Vaidehi is looking for an independent life. Together they must break with tradition and redefine their role.
Badrinath Ki Dulhania is a rucksack full of radioactive social issues handled cautiously with bedazzled Dharma gloves. But ‘handled’ is the operative word here.
Set in small towns like Jhansi and Kota where patriarchy is as evident as daylight, the movie focuses on Badrinath (Varun Dhawan), a sahukar’s son in pursuit of a bride. He spots Vaidehi (Alia Bhatt) at a wedding and starts wooing her. But Vaidehi refuses to bow down to social pressure and succumb to a marriage nurtured by an IV drip of dowry. Turns out she’s that mutant small-town girl with actual opinions and ambitions and most importantly, a spine.
And her character is the backbone of this story, too. She’s fierce and real; she’s pushed down but gets back up; she protects her dreams and for once, doesn’t get emotionally manipulated. Her father’s heart condition be damned!
Through Vaidehi, the movie checks all the important boxes: gender issues, feminism, consent, etc. But the story is treated so stylistically (with elaborate song sequences and flashbacks and cinematic moments) that it loses heat. At times, characters speak like public service announcements, and seem a little contrived.
The runtime doesn’t help either. This is a story with an obvious climax, so sitting through two and a half hours to find out what you already know might get uncomfortable. But the breezy vibe of the movie and back-to-back hilarious lines should get you through it.
Together, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt are the best thing that could have happened to our screens. The beautiful effortlessness of their onscreen companionship plasters a grin on your face. Dhawan as Badri is adorable; you instantly take to him. He even pulls off some high-drama scenes impressively. Bhatt, unsurprisingly, gives it her all, and her sincerity comes through. But her accent, casually swinging between Juhu and Jhansi, is bothersome at times.
RSVP Yes to this wedding; it’s grand, with good music, great people and delicious food for thought.