I haven’t seen many Bollywood movies, but a TikTok creator I follow, @ariavelz, recommended Badhaai Do as “a charming, triumphant film that celebrates gay friendship and love,” and that sounded like a good way to pass a Thursday night. Since then I’ve watched it two more times, and this funny, heartfelt movie has become a new favorite.

At the beginning of Badhaai Do, Shardul, a gay cop, and Suman, a lesbian PE teacher, have both been able to fend off their families with excuses for why they can’t get married. But soon their excuses start to run out and the pressure from their families increases, and after Shardul and Sumi have a chance meeting, they decide to get married to get their families off their backs. Their attempts to uphold the ruse result in several humorous situations.

Because Shardul and Sumi barely know each other when they get married, they have a hard time adjusting to living together, especially as they live as roommates but have to appear as a traditional heterosexual couple on the outside. This is further complicated as they both pursue romantic relationships but disagree on how careful they need to be in doing so. Despite their initial awkwardness and ongoing disagreements, however, they serve as a safe space for each other, able to talk about things they haven’t been able to before and be implicitly understood.

Once Shardul and Sumi are married, their families’ focus shifts onto when the couple will announce a pregnancy, which results in further hijinks. It also brings to light discrimination against non-“normal” (read: non-heterosexual) couples in adoption processes, which bumps up against Sumi’s lifelong desire to be a mother.

While it undoubtedly is more of a comedy than not, Badhaai Do’s more serious moments land just as well. Part of this is due to the fact that it doesn’t shy away from the pain of being part of the LGBTQ+ community in a society that is less than accepting, but it also doesn’t hesitate to show the joy that can be found in that community. One of my favorite scenes is where Sumi and her partner, Rimjhim, go to a party with other queer people and are able to loosen up, simply dancing together without fear.

These elements, plus the excellent characterization of both major and minor characters, add complexity and nuance to an otherwise upbeat movie. Badhaai Do is definitely worth a watch (and a rewatch… and a rewatch…)

 

Image courtesy of Netflix

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