When Gajraj Rao was declared the Best Actor (Male) for his consciously hilarious performance as a conflicted and embarrassed Jitender Kaushik in dramedy Badhaai Ho at the REEL Movie Awards 2019, humour was not lost on him. As Rao accepted the trophy, he immediately turned to the host and asked how much of a time bracket was he allotted for the winner's speech.
In a short yet humble address, he thanked the cast and crew of Badhaai Ho that made the film and emotions of a middle-class family, battling the shame of ill-timed pregnancy, come alive, relatably, on-screen. He also expressed gratitude for the jury of the REEL Awards for recognising and rewarding his performance. Badhaai Ho was later awarded the Best Film trophy for being a light hearted, wholesome entertainer that struck a chord with cinegoers.
In what can be termed as his most meaty role in a mainstream film, Rao was consistently convincing, treading equally between excitement and embarrassment of fatherhood at the age. Through Rao and Neena Gupta, Badhaai Ho explores a distinct shade of romance that was consistently losing its relevance in mainstream Hindi cinema-- the relationship of a middle age couple.
Amit Sharma's Badhaai Ho runs its course from being relatably humourous to considerably emotional, but it is remarkable how the film remains subtly comedic throughout. It had a distinct flavour and characters (a mild-mannered couple-- Gajraj and Neena, a taunting matriarch-- Surekha Sikri and two embarrassed sons-- Ayushmann Khurrana and Shardul Rana) to drive forward its unusual scenario.
The story of the instantly familiar Kaushiks, a simple Delhi-based family, living contentedly in a government-allotted apartment, became an instant hit in metropolitan cities and small towns, courtesy the astute handling of unplanned middle-age pregnancy, served freshly with sharp and crackling, dialogue-driven humour. It is funny, both verbally and in non- communicative ways and Gajraj was mainstay behind all the fun and frolic Badhaai Ho delivered home with finesse.
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