Which woman wouldn’t want Sidharth Malhotra’s company 24/7, not to mention Katrina Kaif’s one-dimensional waist? As a single wife most of the time – with a husband who works in another country – I understand her cry for husbandly support in Baar Baar Dekho, but, wait a minute, what about the man? What about his ambitions, his happiness? Running around trees lip-syncing duets is fun for a while but not a career choice you make in the prime of your youth.
I know we are not supposed to look beyond her fab abs and marvel at her sunglasses staying put through the most vigorous shimmies and just generally go ‘ah’ every time he appears on the screen, but Baar Baar Dekho is reverse sexism at its worst.
Firstly, the movie has the look of a parody; with Katrina playing a Barbie doll whose Ken won’t sit still on the plastic sofa provided free by the toy firm. Instead, he takes his fixed expression through many make-up applications - long sideburns, gray hair, puffy cheeks – only his steady gape enabling the audiences to recognise him whatever be his age. Only an actor so good-looking as he can carry off that slightly open mouth, specially coated in pink gloss for us.
With Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Bhoomi Padnekar in the lead, perhaps directed by Aparna Sen, this movie might have met us halfway in sense, but we have to make do with Katrina’s high-pitched pouty me-me-me nagging and Sidharth’s ‘I am a mathematician because I know how to spell the word MATHS, yay!’
Her need to play house-house overrides his own innermost desires, with even his mother pooh-poohing him at every turn – she consistently refuses his request to talk things over across many years. Unlike traditional Indian moms only too happy to burn the new bride, she lives with her son’s ex-wife and fattens up this ex-bahu’s new husband with food cooked with her own hands! Can we have a happy medium – less burning, more heart to heart chats please?
Throughout the film, Sidharth gets a raw deal. Not only does he keep waking up to the same whiny wife and two unprepossessing brats, no one bothers to clue him in on the plot. So, okay two childhood sweethearts decide to tie the knot, or rather one of them does and the other deals with it by getting drunk. This is the first clue for any would-be bride. If he has to get high to hold your hand today, he will need both his hands to hold the bottle tomorrow.
She is, femininely enough, an artist. Which means he has to earn the bread and butter while she is all photogenic, daubing paint at canvases. All the years she was painting up a storm, he had to rub his two suspect mathematician brain cells together to get food on the table. Plus, she doesn’t insist on birth control.
Any woman best look at the man she is going to marry without rose-coloured glasses or even snazzy sunglasses, however kaala that chashma; he may not be father material just because he sets the sheets on fire. Fatherhood is another business altogether. And two really busy people, like Jai and Diya are in this film, should invest in permanent contraception, so that they can go on to make other things besides babies – no shame in that. But Katrina goes on to have not one but two kids whom she then accuses Sidharth of neglecting. Poor guy, he cannot remember making them and now he is harassed for not spending enough time with them. One look at those cardboard kids and not many would agree to co-parent them.
What made sense was Diya marrying the art gallery owner; he not just appreciated her paintings and hung them about on his walls with gay abandon, but put money where his mouth is and married her too. That ended well. But oh no, the film wanted her to end up with the woozy academic. Who must turn down Ivy League universities to prove his love for her. But what about her love for him?
Baar Baar Dekho is the love story of Diya and Diya, perpetuating the myth that a woman who wants it all must meet the man who wants nothing. That there is no such thing as equality; it is either a man’s world or a woman’s. Jai walks away into the sunset holding ladles and a chastity belt, what no woman today wants for herself.