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2-min read

Films of the Decade: Why Badhaai Ho Represents the Year 2018 in Hindi Cinema

Although Badhaai Ho featured Ayushmann Khurrana, the real stars were Neena Gupta and Surekha Sikri, thanks to their strong, well-rounded and grounded characters.

Shrishti Negi | News18.com@shrishti_03

Updated:January 9, 2020, 9:13 PM IST
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Films of the Decade: Why Badhaai Ho Represents the Year 2018 in Hindi Cinema
Although Badhaai Ho featured Ayushmann Khurrana, the real stars were Neena Gupta and Surekha Sikri, thanks to their strong, well-rounded and grounded characters.

The year 2018 produced some of the best films of the whole last decade. From Anubhav Sinha's courtroom drama Mulk and Amar Kaushik's horror-comedy Stree to Sriram Raghavan's edge-of-the-seat thriller AndhaDhun and Rahi Anil Barve's fantasy folk horror Tumbbad, Bollywood first time had something for everyone at the box office.

They were all great films that took risks - risks that paid off. One such film was director Amit Sharma's Badhaai Ho, which revolves around a middle age woman's pregnancy and how the family deals with it. The film, which became an instant hit upon its release, broke the glass ceiling for older actresses in Bollywood. Although it featured Ayushmann Khurrana, the real stars were Neena Gupta and Surekha Sikri, thanks to their strong, well-rounded and grounded characters.

Here's the plot: A middle-aged man Jeetender Kaushik (Gajraj Rao) freaks out when he learns that his wife Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) is expecting. Scared of being judged in his social circle, Jeetender suggests an abortion but his wife flatly refuses. The two eventually decide to have the baby. But their whole family, especially elder son Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana), is embarrassed and doesn't know how to deal with the accidental late pregnancy.

The film dispels the stigma around older people's intimate and sexual relationships in a comforting way. What stood out about this movie were the ways in which it amplified voices and portrayed the journeys of its two women characters. It showed that older women can be just as bold and funny and complicated as their male peers. Rarely do we get to witness something like that on the big screen.

Films of the Decade: Why Newton Represents the Year 2017 in Hindi Cinema

Many actresses including Shefali Shah, Soni Razdan and Seema Pahwa echoed a similar sentiment while taking in the glory that is Badhaai Ho. It's no surprise, given that "it's one of the first truly successful major Hindi motion pictures to feature an older actress in a leading role."

In an interview with the Deccan Chronicle, Gupta rightly put why the success of Badhaai Ho was important for her, and as well as Bollywood. She said, "It seems that much older women will get substantial roles after this. Men of my age are still playing the heroes and when I am approached to play a granny’s role I question them as to why should I play a granny. I hope things will change now."

Sharma also hopes that Badhaai Ho's success brings about the change in Bollywood in terms of celebrating and telling the stories of women of all ages.

"I have always been a firm believer of the fact that an actor should become the character and not the other way round. Hence when we started talking about casting, what I really wanted to do was find actors that everybody can relate their mothers, fathers, brothers or grannies with. And I believe we did succeed at doing that. I’m humbled to know what great actors like Neena ji has to say about it and I truly hope the way we scout our actors takes a step forward in the right direction," Sharma told us.

Lastly, I'd just say that with the industry so often reluctant to cast a female actor over 40, a movie like Badhaai Ho is a truly big deal.

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