Review of Bala: The sweetest social message conveyed through a ‘bold & bald’ comedy

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Movie: Bala

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar, Yami Gautam, Saurabh Shukla, Seema Pahwa

Direction: Amar Kaushik

Ratings: 3.5 stars

They say that ‘A good appearance makes approaching looks easy’. Well, society seems to have taken it a bit too seriously. That’s why it has been since ages that there’s a humongous obsession around things like hair, skin tone, height, weight, and what not. Bala is that one movie that makes you believe that all these are actually fatuous and it is all about embracing and accepting oneself the way he or she is. How? Let’s find out!

The story revolves around a young Shah Rukh Khan fanboy from Kanpur named Bala, who has been extremely hubristic about his hairstyle and persona since childhood. It’s quite easy for a young and tender mind to feel that way when it’s that same ‘hair’ and ‘persona’ that becomes the prime factor for girls to go gaga and head over heels on him. Bala happens to be so bumptious and lordly about the attention he gets that he simply fails to realize that it is wrong to insult or demean people who don’t fit into the ‘societal standards’ of beauty and perfection. The very reason why he refers to his classmate Latika (Bhumi Pednekar) and class teacher as ‘Kaali’ and ‘Takle’ respectively, without any guilt.

However, little does Bala know at that point of time that what was once his reason for ‘pride’ and high ‘self-esteem’, would end up being his reason for ignominy, discomfort and remorse. As Bala embraces adulthood in life, he starts suffering from ‘Alopecia’, which is a disorder resulting in premature hair fall and hair loss. The ramification of this is painful and desolating to the core for Bala, as post the hair ‘loss’, he only starts losing in life. From his long-term girlfriend leaving him out of sheer embarrassment to him losing out on his favourite marketing position in his organization because he doesn’t look ‘youthful’ enough for marketing, he goes through it all. A dejected, dismal and shamefaced Bala tries every possible alternative on planet Earth to help him grow some hair on his scalp, but alas, everything fails to help the condition.

Finally after almost attempting 200 ways to solve the ‘hair’ debacle, he takes to his father’s (Saurabh Shukla) advice of wearing a ‘wig’ to ring in the youthfulness once again. Despite some initial hitches, he starts wearing a ‘wig’. Bala fakes a trip to Lucknow so that his neighborhood can be convinced that he has regained his ‘hair’ after an apparent treatment in Lucknow. In the process, Bala meets his TikTok crush and fascination in reality, Pari (Yami Gautam). The duo connects, bonds and falls in love with each other. Soon, they get married. But no, it’s not as hunky-dory as it sounds like. Pari, whose life revolves around the glitz and glamour of social media, wants a ‘good-looking’ and handsome ‘husband’ and Bala is that person for her because she is still unaware of the fact that Bala’s hair isn’t for real and is actually a wig. She gets to know this post their marriage though, all thanks to a loud & clear shouting session from Latika at Bala’s house, because he screwed things up at her end.

A shocked and unsettled Pari eventually discovers the fact that her boyfriend-turned hubby is actually ‘bald’ and this leaves her absolutely dumbfounded and horrified. She immediately leaves their abode of heaven and also files for divorce and puts up a case of fraud on Bala for ‘cheating her with his looks’ and demands the marriage be called null & void. Bala loses hope in life once again and turns to his friend turned foe turned lawyer friend Latika once again to fight his case so that he can win Pari back in his life. But the real realization dawns upon Bala a lot later that ‘love can’t be won forcefully’ and there’s no point in thrusting it for his own selfishness when the other person doesn’t want it. And behind this beautiful realization of making him understand that it’s all about embracing your inner beauty with confidence and there’s no harm in being stereotyped ‘kaala’ ,’nata’ or ‘takla’ by the society is Latika who herself is a confident and beautiful woman who’s not bothered even an iota about her ‘dark skin tone’ because ‘Why change for someone else?’

IWMBuzz Verdict: Dinesh Vijan and Amar Kaushik’s vision of Bala is absolutely crystal clear, discernible and brazen, and it shows in the movie right from the first frame till the end. The story and the script deserve all the accolades, not for the perfection, as there were many places that will make you feel that it’s really disposable and unmerited, but the fine tuning and packaging with which they have come up with the end product. Ayushmann not only shows his love and obsession for Shah Rukh Khan but even pays tribute to legends like ‘Kaka’ (Rajesh Khanna) in the least expected way one would think, ie. through TikTok videos. So a family entertainer with Ayushmann Khurrana playing a bald man and also simultaneously dancing around like Shah Rukh Khan and enunciating well-written dialogues with the comic element induced in them, you are bound to have a rib-tickling 2.5 hours of entertainment and merriment. The dialogues are penned as per the need of the hour and will surely give you a modern-day touch as even a reference point from something as fresh in the mind as ‘Gully Boy’ is compiled in the film. An ideal Bollywood package? Pretty much. The cinematography and the direction go hand in hand with each other’s vision and right from the first frame to Vijay Raaz’s voice-over to assist the narrative, it makes it an easy watch for the audience. The performances are highly impactful from Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar’s end and even the likes of Saurabh Shukla, Abhishek Banerjee impress in their roles. Yami Gautam is as gorgeous as a full moon night, but primarily, that was what she was mostly about. Amidst all the attention and positivity, there are still certain things that could have been worked upon better. For eg, the typical Lucknowi or Kanpuri accent looked a bit forced and surely could have been more natural from Yami Gautam’s mouth. Bhumi Pednekar’s make-up and prosthetics is another subject of discussion here, as in order to make a girl look dark-skinned, you don’t literally need to make her face ‘black’. Makeup team, are you listening? Overall, it’s a beautiful watch and entertainer and the message is what makes it more special. So now whether you are ‘naata’, ‘kala’, ‘takla’ or ‘mota’, although easier said than done and only the person under the above categories can feel the emotions, try to embrace yourself the way you are as surely there’s nothing more beautiful than ‘Confidence’, and that isn’t hinging on these factors for sure. Ending the review with a very valid question, the answer of which most of you already know, ‘Badalna Kyun Hai?’

3.5 stars

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