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Bala movie review: Ayushmann Khurrana’s film is bold and beautiful, and a bit unsettling

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Bala

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar, Yami Gautam

Director: Amar Kaushik

There is more to a good comedy film than dropping a few clever jokes. Director Amar Kaushik understands the mechanics well – something he displayed earlier in Stree, and Bala takes it a notch higher.

The film starring Ayushmann Khurrana as a prematurely balding man is outrageously hilarious and empathetic at the same time. It introduces a quirky subject and builds on it with a single-minded commitment without meandering towards needless subplots.

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Ayushmann is in form, yet again, as he plays an ordinary man with an extraordinary problem. The actor has picked up taboo subjects in the past too, delivering films that are not just entertaining but give life lessons too. Bala, by far, is the funniest of them all and Ayushmann hits the ball out of the court. Despite not being your conventional hero, the actor manages to impress each time.

Set in Kanpur, the film narrates the story of Balmukund Shukla aka Bala (Khurrana), a stud in his school whose silky smooth hair make him the favourite boy in his class. Switch to his mid-20s and he has a bald pate. His childhood sweetheart has left him, any girl he meets him for marriage takes one look at his bald head and runs away screaming. He also gets demoted at his workplace where he sells Pretty You fairness creams and faces constant humiliation because he looks older for his age and hence can’t be in marketing.

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Bala refuses to give up hope. After trying some 212 odd hacks in two years that range from wacky to obnoxious — standing upside down to ensure better blood flow to roots, rubbing raw onion on the scalp or applying a mixture of buffalo poop and semen – he finally decides to wear a wig and goes from being the joke of the town to the talk of the town. Soon he finds love in Pari Mishra (Yami). But what happen to Bala’s fate when his childhood friend Latika Trivedi (Bhumi Pednekar) lets the secret out? Will Bala’s wedding night turn into a nightmare? Will his happiness fade like his hairline?

The first half of the film is ridiculously funny with some fantastic one-liners and punches that evoke genuine laughter. Niren Bhatt’s writing deserves a standing ovation; it’s impressive how subtly he talks about baldness and mentions Anupam Kher and Rajinikanth in one breath without offending anyone.

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Though you’d enjoy the endless humour and wit, you can’t miss noticing that in the garb of comedy, the writers have taken full liberty to crack insanely sexist, racist and some gross and crass jokes, too. However, in most of the scenes you won’t complain, but deep down the makes you uncomfortable with the overall tone of it. If you don’t find toilet humour funny, let me tell you there are quite a few references.

Second half is slower and on the preachy side, but never turns into a yawn-fest. Unlike last week’s Ujda Chaman on the same subject, Ayushmann isn’t shown as this sad, helpless guy who won’t do anything about his situation in Bala. Though he keeps on blaming his father for faulty genes, he goes all out to make his ‘selfie to self pity’ story believable, and how hair loss has led to an ‘identity loss’ for him in a rather funny way. From Rajesh Khanna to Ranbir Kapoor, Bala mimics everyone and looks good, too. But it’s Shah Rukh Khan who he worships and his posters adorning the walls of Bala’s room is proof. I can’t really recall a film from recent times that gave such a befitting tribute to SRK.

While content is the king in Bala, it’s the performances that further enhance it. Having Ayushmann as the hero, director Amar Kaushik makes the most of his acting prowess. It’s pleasant how Ayushmann makes the plight of bald men look relatable through his actions gestures, emotions and expressions. He doesn’t overdo it either and has embraced his look as a bald guy. Good job done there with the prosthetics.

Among the ladies, Yami totally shines and how. Playing a small town model and a TikTok sensation, she remains in her character, looking over-dramatic at times, and even confuses you with her happy-sad expression. But her character very well explains the reason why she is obsessed with good looks.

Bhumi, on the other hand, plays a confident lawyer who has faced prejudices all her life due to her dark complexion. Though she makes sensible arguments, it’s still not understandable why makers didn’t cast someone who matches Latika’s skin tone, instead casting Bhumi and giving her a brownface that is nowhere close to natural. The makers highlight the stereotype when Bhumi goes to meet a potential groom and the song being played in the background is ‘Chandi jaisa rang hai tera sone jaise baal’. What a cliché!

While Ayushmann-Bhumi’s love-hate vibe makes for several funny moments, his TikTok scenes with Yami are undoubtedly the highlight. Quite an interesting way to weave in the 90s flavour with both of them dancing to some popular songs not only recreating the steps but also the looks and outfits.

In most of Ayushmann’s film, the supporting cast has always had a huge role to play and Bala is no exception. Saurabh Shukla as a devoted father, Seema Pahwa as a mustachioed neighbouhood mausi, Abhishek Bannerjee as the salon guy and Javed Jaffery as a mentor stand out in their respective parts. Dheerendra Kumar Gautam as Bala’s brother is a great casting call and his monologue in front of the entire family earns him claps.

The film doesn’t end at only familiarizing us with the plight of balding men. It does let its message of ‘self-love’ come across, telling us how it is okay to feel perfect with your imperfections and why should one change to fit into the set norms. And all of this is done through a stand-up act.

Bala is a well-made film that stays true to its genre for most of the time. It makes right jokes at the time and leaves you in stitches more often that you’d expect.

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Priyanka Chopra, Nick Jonas shell out $20 million (Rs 144 crore) for new Los Angeles home, set neighbourhood records

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The Jonas Brothers are reportedly breaking real estate records in Encino, having spent a combined $34.1 million in the Los Angeles neighbourhood. The Wall Street Journal reports that Nick and his wife Priyanka Chopra shelled out $20 million for a 20,000-square-foot property. Meanwhile, Joe Jonas and his wife Sophie Turner spent $14.1 million for a 15,000-square-foot home just three miles away.

According to the report, Priyanka and Nick’s modern home has seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, high ceilings, and ample outdoor space. And even though Sophie and Joe’s home is smaller, it has 10 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms.

In August, it was reported that Nick had sold his bachelor pad and was looking for a new home to share with Priyanka. The couple tied the knot in December, 2018. The report said that Nick is worth “a reported $25 million, and Priyanka reportedly comes in a skosh higher, at $28 million.”

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Priyanka had spoken about wanting to get a new home in a September interview to Vogue. “Buying a home and having a baby are on my to-do list,” she said, later adding, “For me, home is wherever I’m happy, as long as I have the people I love around me.”

Speaking about her future plans with Nick, Priyanka had told People, “In 10 years, I definitely want to have kids. That is, it’s going to happen in the next 10 years. Well, hopefully earlier than that. I’m very fond of children and I want to be able to do that.”

Priyanka made her Bollywood comeback with The Sky Is Pink, co-starring Farhan Akhtar. She will also be seen in the upcoming Robert Rodriguez feature We Can Be Heroes, and will also star as the lead in the adaptation of the Man Booker-winning novel The White Tiger, for Netflix, alongside Rajkummar Rao. Nick is currently touring with his brothers and bandmates.

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Malaika Arora calls Arjun Kapoor perfect in every way but for the handling of his money, says she is all for a white wedding

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Early this year, the speculation around Malaika Arora and Arjun Kapoor’s wedding reached a crescendo. So much so that all three people involved – Arjun, Malaika and even Boney Kapoor — at different times, rubbished all such talk. Now, however, in a new interview Malaika has spelt out her preference of a dream wedding.

Speaking to Neha Dhupia on her show No Filter Neha, the actor and now fitness expert was quoted by Mid Day as saying: “I’m all about a white wedding, (and have) always liked the (concept) of bridesmaids. They would be my closest girl (friends), my girl gang.” She would wear an Elie Saab gown, she added. The actor may be tight-lipped about her relationship with Arjun, but did mention how he was ‘perfect’ in every which way but for the handling of ‘his money’. She also noted how he thought little of her photography skills, while agreeing that “he clicks better pictures of me, so, the pictures I take fail in comparison”. “He thinks I do a crappy job of taking his pictures,” she added.

After refusing to talk about their relationship for a long time, Arjun did acknowledge that Malaika and he were indeed in a relationship earlier this year. He had told Filmfare in an interview, “We’ve come out because we feel the media has given us dignity. There’s a certain understanding the media has… they’ve been respectful, kind, honest and decent about it. That is why I felt comfortable. You recoil when there’s a certain ‘gandhagi’ that comes with the territory. When purposely people irk you by saying, writing or asking things… there hasn’t been any of that.”

 Arjun, whose last film India’s Most Wanted failed to make a mark at the box office, will be seen next in Ashutosh Gowariker’s historical Panipat, in which he will be seen as Maratha warrior and leader of the Maratha army, Sadashiv Rao Bhau who faced the forces of Ahmed Shah Abdali in the third Battle of Panipat. The first look posters of the three principle characters – Sadashiv, Ahmed Shah (Sanjay Dutt) and Parvatibai, wife of Sadashiv (Kriti Sanon) were unveiled on Monday.

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Rajkummar Rao reveals he stood outside Mannat for 6-7 hours to see Shah Rukh Khan but could not

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Actor Rajkummar Rao has revealed he has waited outside Mannat to get a glimpse of his idol, Bollywood star Shah Ruh Khan during his initial days. Speaking on Neha Dhupia’s chat show No Filter With Neha, Rajkummar said he was inspired by Shah Rukh.

Rajkummar added that the first time he came to Bombay, he would simply stand outside Mannat –Shah Rukh’s residence – for 6-7 hours in a bid to see the actor. The Aligarh actor further said that he was delighted to see SRK’s wife Gauri Khan, though he got to see Shah Rukh much later while shooting at Mehboob Studios in Mumbai.

Talking about his first meeting with the actor, Rajkummar said he was shooting in Mehboob Studios when he got to know that SRK was also shooting there and once he got a go ahead, he entered SRK’s van and saw him for the first time.

An excited Rajkummar said SRK was sweet when he met him, adding that the Shah Rukh knew everything about Rajkummar and it made him feel special. “Shah Rukh is so fantastic. He is so charming and after that, of course, now, we are pretty close. Like I know I can message him, I know I can call him and he calls me and I still get pretty excited and you know that fan inside me would never die. I still feel very very happy whenever he calls me.”

Earlier, talking about being compared with the Khans, Rajkummar had said, “I don’t think we can compare superstars and actors like me. The kind of films Aamir sir, Shah Rukh sir and Salman sir have done are amazing. You can’t say they are not good just because one of their films did not work.”

Recently seen in Judgementall Hai Kya opposite Kangana Ranaut and Made In China alongside Mouni Roy, Rajkummar will now be seen in RoohiAfza alongside Janhvi Kapoor.

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