Ayushmann Khurrana’s Bala falls prey to the very stigma it tries to dispel

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A nonetheless from Amar Kaushik’s Bala. (File Photo)

Insecurity, like a bald patch, reveals greater than it hides. The feeling of failure from an obvious sense of missing spills forth in issues one chooses to snigger at and the jokes one takes offence to. In the just lately launched Ujda Chaman (directed by Abhishek Pathak) and Bala (directed by Amar Kaushik), the respective protagonists Chaman and Bala are stung by the phrase “takla”. What is a passing joke for some, looks like a private affront for them. The purpose is evident: each are wrestling with untimely balding, and an endless trials of prayer, remedy and treatments have proffered no outcomes. A free strand of hair each appals and gladden them, relying on the place they see it. These protagonists usually are not smug about their appearances however struggling to settle for who they see in the mirror. These are males who’re so crippled with insecurity that they snigger at others solely to be certain that they don’t seem to be laughed at.

Moving away from the dominant style of movies the place masculinity is nearly all the time seen as impregnable, there has emerged one other part which is solely reliant on exploring (and sometimes exploiting) male frailties. The heroism of the heroes constitutes not in flexing their muscle tissues however in embracing their ordinariness and the messy shortcomings that include it. Their enchantment resides in being seen as one in every of us and never in the enigma of being larger and higher than us. These movies are self-aware, thriving in the data that it just isn’t deification however identification that attracts the largest clamour.

It is then becoming that Ayushmann Khurrana, who has been instrumental in each furthering these movies and being their flag-bearer, headlines Bala. Unlike Ujda Chaman, the place baldness exists merely as a premise to manufacture jokes, Bala contextualises each the want for a boy rising up in the 90s to have an enviable mop of hair and his private disgrace of not having the identical. Born and introduced up in Kanpur, Hindi movies had been his solely outlet level to the outdoors world and actors his reference level to be. As a child, he was in style in class for having the ability to roll his ‘R’(s) like Shah Rukh Khan and emulate Amitabh Bachchan’s baritone. His identification constituted of their borrowed mannerisms. Thus, in a merciless accident when he retains his reward of sounding like them however his manner fails to sustain, he suffers from the menace of shedding his very self. It additionally hurts him the place it impairs the most: his love life. His childhood girlfriend dumps him for apparent causes and it will get supremely tough to discover a potential bride.

Kaushik’s movie isn’t just preoccupied with unfolding the humiliation a person affected by a receding hairline experiences — ensuing from the stress that’s on them to look a sure manner — however strives to make a bigger case: the want to settle for oneself and others for the manner they’re. It is keenly underlined in the manner the two feminine leads — Latika (Bhumi Pednekar) and Pari (Yami Gautam) — are offered. Disparate of their look, they’re agency of their acceptance of self. Pari, a TikTok star and small-time mannequin, is unabashed in the satisfaction she takes in her seems and want to marry somebody equally handsome. She displays a uncommon self-awareness the place she not simply takes possession of her obvious shallowness however, by way of that, accepts who she is, most intensely. Her affinity for superficiality then is each incidental and essential. The dark-skinned Latika, on the different hand, shows an analogous certitude concerning her look. Departing from their conventional function of accentuating the heroes’ invulnerability by pitting it in opposition to their helplessness, girls in the movie educate their male counterpart how to be comfy in his pores and skin. It is the man right here who derives validation from the girls.

An analogous ruse is employed in Ujda Chaman the place the barely chubby Apsara (Maanvi Gagroo) reminds Chaman (Sunny Singh) of the redundancy to gauge one’s self-worth by way of the opinions of others. But Pathak’s movie in the end falls into its personal lure when Apsara judges her self-worth utilizing Chaman as the parameter, when her presence is used merely as a ploy to make Chaman really feel extra of a person. Bala cleverly bypasses this by letting the girls merely support the protagonist’s journey in the direction of self-acceptance. When Bala lastly seems at the mirror, he does so alone.

Kaushik mounts his movie on the next ethical floor however it by no means holds up for its ft are made from clay. It collectively does what Chaman does alone. If Chaman reveals his insecurity by going again to Apsara — intending to conceal his inadequacy in hers — Bala showcases its personal prejudice in opposition to darkish pores and skin by letting a fair-skinned actor essay the function of somebody who’s darkish by merely blackening her face. It fails to follow what it preaches.

One can all the time argue the want to choose a movie for what it is and even cite market feasibility as a elementary purpose. Recently, Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar in Saand Ki Aankh had been criticised on comparable grounds for essaying roles of octogenarian sharpshooters, Chandro Tomar and Prakashi Tomar. But the foremost grouse in opposition to them was of usurping roles that might have been performed by elder girls and never of propagating a stereotype it supposed to dismantle. It didn’t betray its intent of highlighting the size and breadth of bodily and psychological labour girls have to undergo to pave the manner for the relaxation. When Chandro Tomar (Bhumi Pednekar) causes that she wants to learn the way to shoot in order that different girls of their family follows go well with, the assertion doesn’t lose relevance: the speaker continues to be a lady and regardless of her age, the wrestle is widespread if not equal. 

Bala‘s failure then lies in inadvertently highlighting the divorce between the skilled and the expertise. In one in every of the situations in the movie, Latika, with righteous anger on her face, tells Bala he wouldn’t know what it is like to be somebody with darkish pores and skin. It is an affecting scene that succinctly emphasises the each day wrestle and hardships girls with a darker pores and skin tone endure. But it leaves one surprisingly chilly not as a result of the actor flounders together with her line, however as a result of she delivers it merely as a line. Because, Pednekar too doesn’t know what it looks like. Sometimes, performing calls for greater than play-acting, insisting on empathy and never simply kindness.


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