From the director of ‘Stree’, Bala is a comedy-drama which talks about a sensitive subject like premature balding and how it impacts a person’s psyche to a significant extent.
Directed by– Amar Kaushik
Produced by– Dinesh Vijan
Written by– Niren Bhatt
Starring– Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar, Yami Gautam, Javed Jaffrey
Balmukund Shukla aka Bala played by Ayushmann Khurrana, a fairness products sales agent in Kanpur, live through a soul-crushing complex of baldness and the apprehensions comes with it. After rejections and contemptuous ridicule and mockery from the society, he falls for a Tik-Tok star Pari Mishra played by Yami Gautam and marry her by camouflaging his weakness under a wig. But what will happen when the truth comes out?
The film has an unambiguous approach of telling a story of discrimination based on appearance. It has touched upon the struggle of baldness and the obsession with fair complexion by contradicting itself by painting a comparatively fair actor with many shades of dark. An inaccuracy which we have recently seen in ‘Super 30’ where dark complexion has been used as a device to portray an intelligent man, however, belongs to the lower strata of the society.
More than often, the fixation with looks as defined by the society – reflects in our films – or the movie that burlesque a bone of contention that becomes a part of our culture – healthful or not is a different discussion altogether. Still, surely it has become a vicious circle, so to say. It is a perennial problem of Bollywood to talk about a real subject with clone representation. Hysterically, another contradiction the film has is with its casting – Yami Gautam, a brand ambassador of a fairness cream since 2012, is part of a movie which talks about lookism.
Undeterred by its flaws, how Bala stands out is, it does resist to jeer on its characters struggling with self-worth and belief in oneself. The role of Latika played by Bhumi Pednekar is shown to be a confident woman who feels good in her skin in spite of society, continually looking down upon her due to her complexion. And needless to say, obstacles in marriage prospects is sure to follow.
In one hand, where men have been shown in the place of privilege (mostly) when it comes to marriage, Kaushik has portrayed synchronicity in the life of Bala and Latika played by Bhumi Pednekar who goes through several rejections -former for baldness, latter for dark complexion.
Pednekar‘s confidence with her looks regardless of unconventional complexion is a simple yet powerful comment on society’s beauty standards but somehow comes across insincere by portraying its another woman character as superficial. Part, a Tik Tok star is a self-identified shallow character who admits “my looks are all I have” – who feels betrayed when her husband’s truth reveals before her.
With its comic, fun elements such as a typical Kanpuriya dialect, frivolousness in its language keeps Bala an enjoyable watch with a subject of significance which couldn’t be told better than now, without being preachy.
The film is not an intellectual comprehension of the issue it is dealing with; neither does it claim to be. But it is a commercially viable film with a message which has the potential to make people empathetic towards those who are subject to mockery for their appearance.