Badhaai Ho Review: Why Should the Sex Lives of Indian Parents Be a Secret?

Bollywood

Badhaai Ho Review: Why Should the Sex Lives of Indian Parents Be a Secret?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

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rranged marriage is an industry in India: The practice that was once an obligation for our parents’ generation, is merely an option for ours. Even though, a lot has changed about how India looks at marriage, the archaic assumption that lovelessness accompanies every arranged marriage remains. Somehow, we believe that only love marriages can accommodate the kind of intimate tenderness that exists between a married couple. It’s why the biggest reveal in Amit Sharma’s Badhaai Ho, comes late in the second half: The film’s leads – a middle-aged married couple – who are very much in love, are actually the product of an arranged marriage.

For most of Badhaai Ho, Jitender Kaushik (Gajraj Rao) and his wife, Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) – parents to a 20-something Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana in a Vicky Donor-meets-Shubh Mangal Savdhan comfort zone) and a 16-year-old – play against type. Neither is their relationship a formal partnership, nor are they on autopilot with each other. Instead, their scenes together bubble with warmth, typical of an intimate courtship. He puts his head on her lap. She listens to his poetry. He leaves everything to console her when she’s upset. Her eyes immediately look out for him at a crowded wedding. He tells her how beautiful she looks when her hair isn’t tied up and she leaves it open. It’s easy to mistake them for young lovers. They are after all, an anomaly: a love story thriving amid the societal expectations of a responsible – and by extension – physically distant married couple.

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