Have you heard of the story of King Midas, who could turn everything he touched into gold? Ayushmann Khurrana is that modern-day Midas who has been blessed with a special gift, his acting talent, which makes every script he touches a sure-shot entertainer. And after Bala, it should not be contested. Period.
Amar Kaushik’s Bala is the story of a young man who is struggling with premature balding. Heard before? Fret not, it has nothing else similar to the nightmare you might have been through just last week. Bala is an amalgamation of great acting, writing and direction, which makes it one of the best movies of 2019.
Let’s take a closer look as we analyse the ups and downs of this laugh riot in our Bala Movie Review.
Bala Movie Review- The Plot
The story starts in the summer of 2003 when our Balmukund, who is still a schoolboy, is drenched in the pride of having the best lehrate kaale baal’. Bala is the Shah Rukh Khan of the school and loves to attract attention through his mimicry skills. He is so proud of his hair and good looks that he doesn’t hesitate to make fun of his bald teacher by calling him takla and humiliating his dark-complexioned classmate in front of the entire school. Circa 2016 in Kanpur, Bala (Ayushmann Khurrana) has lost all his pride. His balding head, which he says women spot before they see the full moon on a Karva Chauth night, has crushed his self-confidence.
His girlfriend of 15 years has left him for a guy who looks exactly like him (there’s a surprise for you) but with more hair on his head. He gets demoted in his marketing job of selling fairness cream. Now starts the struggle. From putting a mix of buffalo’s dung and bull’s semen on his scalp to doing every asana possible, Bala tries hundreds of remedies to get his pride back but to no use. In his entire struggle, he has a stron support of his loving family – his parents (Saurabh Shukla and Sunita Rajbar), his brother (Dheerendra Kumar Gautam, who comes out to be a surprise package) and friends (Abhishek Banerjee and Jaaved Jaaferi).
Bala Movie Review- The Ups
Ayushmann’s imitation of the Bollywood actors is spot on and proves, yet again, why he deserves another National Award. Nowhere during the film does it appear that he is doing it extra. He knows where to put salt, where sugar is needed and how much quantity of the rest of the spices are required to make it a balanced experience.
While Ayushmann hits the ball out of the stadium with his portrayal of Balmukund, Yami is subtle as Pari. She is believable as a small town ‘TikTok sensation’ and she doesn’t have to go out of her way to prove it. Bhumi Pednekar plays a dark-complexioned lawyer Latika, who is confident in her skin. She is the epitome of feminism and doesn’t compromise on her principles no matter what. But her aunt, brilliantly played by Seema Pahwa, is hell-bent on getting her a guy by making her pictures several shades fairer on Instagram.
From Saurabh Shukla and Abhishek Banerjee to Jaaved Jaaferi, every character actor has played their role with a flavour that is unique to themselves. They are entertaining in their peculiarity and don’t remind you of any character you have seen earlier. Vijay Raaz as the narrator deserves a special mention. From the societal standards of beauty to gender stereotypes, Bala fights several taboo topics and that too without compromising on the laughter.
The makers have made the film with the empathy it requires to deal with such topics sans being awkward and hurting anyone’s sentiments. The writing by Niren Bhatt is sharp, intelligent and contemporary. He manages to bring out the essence of a small town like Kanpur through its quirks and is successful in connecting the world to people in metro cities. Deliberately peppered with Bollywood references (from Deewar to Gully Boy), there is never a dull moment in this film that adores Bollywood.
Bala Movie Review- The Downs
There is no doubt that Bala is a brilliant film but it comes with its share of flaws. While it works for most parts, the way the makers handled Bhumi Pednekar’s character Latika is a little disappointing. Turning a fair-skinned girl into a dark-skinned one, which doesn’t appear consistent in the film, is unforgivable.
The makers should have opted for an actress whose complexion matched the character requirement. The film’s music fails to hit the right chords. The songs do not fit well with the story, the controversial Don’t Be Shy song comes in the end and has no significance in the entire film.
Bala Movie Review- All In All
Bala is not just a celebration of Bollywood but also its critique, which questions the stereotypes set by our cinema about beauty. The film exudes a feel-good warmth you were waiting for, for so long. For those who dare to compare it with Ujda Chaman, one request: please do not. Just don’t do it. The Abhishek Pathak film is no competition to this artistic creation by Amar Kaushik. 3.5 out of 5 stars for Bala, where the writing takes the cake.