Badrinath Ki Dulhania does not glorify social evils; has its heart in the right place
Editor's note: Badrinath Ki Dulhania has been gathering mixed reviews, even as the film is doing extremely well at the box office. While some feel the film is regressive, there are a few who have bought into the larger message. Keeping the polarised responses in mind, Firstpost has put together two opposing points of views. The piece below discusses why the film should be seen keeping the larger context in mind. Read the critique of the film here. Where do you stand?
Badrinath Ki Dulhania is a deeply problematic film. Technically, it may be, given the loopholes in the screenplay, editing and story. But it has its heart in the right place.
The primary argument that critiques the film discusses its alleged glorification of stalking. Film critic Rajeev Masand says in his review of the film, "Badri pursues her (Vaidehi) relentlessly and just because she is amused and yet not interested, we are meant to regard this stalking as cute." While he does have a point that Badri's stalking is not justified, the patriarchal mindset with which he is raised and his lack of exposure and education should be taken into account.
Her past experience of betrayal from a loved one has changed Vaidehi's — the character played by Alia Bhatt — worldview. She states in her introductory scene that she stopped trying to change the world a long time back. Why is it then held against her that she chose to respond to the stalker in Badri in a casual manner?
Also, Badri gets punished for being a stalker. His bride leaves him at the altar. While that turns him into a more aggressive stalker, he eventually learns to respect women and their aspirations during his stint in Singapore.
Another contention that the critics have with the film is the treatment of the male molestation scene. Film critic Anupma Chopra even questions the relevance of the same. However, had it not been for that scene, Badri's evolution from a relentless stalker to a sensitive companion would have been rather abrupt. The male molestation scene marks the inflexion point in his character graph. Prior to that scene, he is depicted as an aggressive lover who victimises himself. But it is when he becomes a victim, to the daily risks that plague a woman's life, that he realises the predicament that women find themselves in every day.
The scene being depicted in a comical light has a sound rationale behind it as well, strictly in terms of the narrative of the film. Male molestation is a serious issue, but it was shown in a comical light because of two reasons.
Firstly, his rescuers, including Vaidehi, laugh at the irony of the situation and not at the victim's state.
Second, Badri does not take the molestation seriously himself. Since his world has been confined to small towns like Jhansi and Kota, he is not aware of what is happening to him. He finds it extremely weird that a group of men are pursuing him.
Recently, a video went viral that featured Amitabh Bachchan narrating an eve teasing experience to Aamir Khan on the latter's show Satyamev Jayate. He recalled how all the boys in his college used to eve tease the girls of a neighbouring college. But when a few of the boys, including him, were invited to the girls college for a competition, the girls started passing comments on the boys as soon as they entered the premises.
Flushed with embarrassment, Bachchan confessed that he realised how girls felt while being on the receiving end of the stalking. However, he narrated his eve teasing victim experience in a comical way to bring forth the embarrassment he faced at that particular time.
That is also what Badrinath Ki Dulhania sets out to do - to shame a man who has been harassing women for years.
Films have trivialised death, sickness and bad luck all the time. Badrinath Ki Dulhania also trivialised heart attacks. Heart attack, a grave issue, is presented in comical light to bring home the message of how overtly protective parents are of their children's love choices. Similarly, the male molestation scene hopes to hammer home the right message.