'Hair loss nahin, identity loss ho raha hai hamara,' cribs Balmukund Shukla aka Bala (Ayushmann Khurrana) to one of his friends. His once silky mane is now replaced by gleaming baldness and a receding hairline. All at the age of 25!
It's an interesting time in the Hindi film industry where our leading men aren't afraid to walk away from being quintessential Bollywood heroes and play characters with flaws on the big screen. Let's find out whether Ayushmann Khurrana's 'Bala' turns out to be bold and beautiful.
What's Yay: Performances, direction, dialogues
What's Nay: The screenplay dips a bit in the anticlimax
Popcorn Refill: Strictly interval
Iconic Moment: The sequence where Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam make TikTok videos on popular 90s songs will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear.
'Bala' begins on a quirky note with Vijay Raaz's voiceover explaining the importance of a mop of hair on one's head. "Hum aapki khubsoorti ka raaz hai, aapke sarr ka permanent taj hai." Enter Balmukund Shukla aka Bala (Ayushmann Khurrana) as a young kid who is quite pompous about his hair. He is obnoxious and even bullies his dark-skinned classmate for her looks and calls her names.
Cut to many years later, the 'school ka hero' is now an adult man with scanty hair on his head. Bala is grappling with the problem of premature balding, In other words, "Job mein demote ho jaate hain, Mimicry mein flop ho jaate hain, Bachpan ki girlfriend chhod ke chali jaati hai, Sundar ladki se baat karte hua phat-ti hai hamaari, Lagta hai hasegi hum pe dekh ke yaar."
Meanwhile, Bala also doubles up as a stand-up comedian who mimics Bollywood actors. Things take a hilarious turn when he falls in love with a model and TikTok sensation Pari Mishra (Yami Gautam) who immediately takes a liking to the wig-strapped Bala. The duo even finds a happily ever after. Until Bala's wig comes off and Pari discovers that her hubby is bald.
One of the reasons why 'Bala' keeps you glued to the screen is the writing, which is beautifully laced with humour and emotions. Right from premature balding to dark-skin tone, the film teaches you to embrace your flaws confidently even if the society mocks you for these 'imperfections'.
Director Amar Kaushik presents a light-hearted comedy and at the same time, even shows a mirror to the harsh reality. On the flip side, the writing stumbles a little in the anti-climax and a bit of preachiness seeps into it. However, it does not damage the final output.
Ayushmann Khurrana is endearing as Bala. He adds a bit of vulnerability to his character and makes him hit all the right notes. Also, his mimicry of Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and others is spot on. He makes you laugh and even leaves you with a lump in your throat.
Barring the distracting loud brown foundation, Bhumi Pednekar as the dark-skinned Latika shines bright in her part. As a fiery, headstrong lawyer who is comfortable in her skin, the actress pulls off her role well.
In the age of influencers and social media celebrities, Yami Gautam's Pari reflects a lot about today's youngsters. The actress lights up the screen every time she makes an appearance. One of the most brilliantly-written scenes in the film feature her explaining why her character places vanity above everything else in life.
The supporting lot of actors - Saurabh Shukla, Javed Jaffery, Abhishek Banerjee and Seema Pahwa are good in their respective roles.
Anuj Rakesh Dhawan's lens perfectly capture the townscape and makes it one of the characters in the film. Hemanti Sarkar's editing works fine to make it an entertaining watch.
'Don't Be Shy' which plays during the end credits leaves you with a happy mood. 'Tequila' makes for a perfect wedding dance song. Last but not the least, 'Zindagi' tugs at the heartstrings.
'Bala, naam toh suna hoga? Even if you haven't, you shouldn't be missing this fun ride. In Shah Rukh Khan's style, come and fall in love with yourself. I am going with 3.5 stars.