Badrinath ki Dulhania: Critics call film problematic but Alia Bhatt disagrees
Shashank Khaitan's latest release Badrinath ki Dulhania, starring Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan in the lead roles, has been criticised for its sexist portrayal of women and romance. Dhawan's character Badrinath has been labelled a stalker; a label that Bhatt has vehemently rejected.
In an article by The Quint, Bhatt has been quoted saying this:
"No, he doesn’t play a stalker. Badri is not stalking Vaidehi. From the beginning we were very clear on this. Varun wouldn’t play a stalker. And I wouldn’t encourage that kind of attention. Yes the couple have their issues. But she is in love with him all the same."
She also adds that she believes she will receive criticism for any kind of work she does; that she views it as an "occupational hazard".
A review by Hindustan Times highlights that the film glossed over two troubling incidents. The first is when Vaidehi, Bhatt's character, gives shelter to Badri after he has kidnapped her, and the second is when a case of molestation of a man is passed off as humour.
The review by MissMalini.com insists that Badrinath ki Dulhaniya is important despite being flawed, employing the common ideology that using patriarchy to eradicate sexism is okay. "The film highlights important concepts under the garb of entertainment, making it palatable for the regular audience. It’s a fun, non-threatening movie... But, given our current situation, it’s still an important movie."
And then there are stronger, more direct critiques such as Huffington Post India and Youth ki Awaaz's analyses. The latter calls it "a hair in the nostril" in the headline itself, and says, "You would heave a sigh of relief because now you know that all those wooing/stalking, violence, threatening was to show the transition in Badri’s character, of course conveniently forgetting that he manages to melt the girl’s heart before he becomes a gentleman."
Huffington Posts's review calls the film a "love letter to stalking and harassment". It also calls it a "demise of viewers' brains", because at one point in the film Badri even asks Vaidehi if he has abused her in any way.