Ayushmann Khurrana is on a roll in 2019; this is his year in Bollywood. After several superhits in the past couple of years, the actor started 2019 with the critically acclaimed Article 15 and followed it up with the box office hit Dream Girl. For one last time before his sabbatical, Ayushmann Khurrana is back on the big screen with Bala. Bala is the tale of a guy in his 20s, experiencing premature balding, trying to deal with life's issues. MetaReel got access to a preview screening of Bala in India and here is our review of the same.
Bala India Review
Bala starts off with positioning Balmukund Shukla aka Bala (Ayushmann Khurrana) as a regular Kanpur school kid who is socially wired to like fair girls, shaming his dark-skinned classmate Latika (Bhumi Pednekar) every chance he gets. Bala is proud of his lustrous hair, which he believes gets him all the female attention in school.
Fast forward a few years, Bala is 25 years old and balding substantially. He works as a sales executive, and has to wear a cap to hide his balding head from work, friends, and even strangers. Ramu, his friend and barber, and Bachchan Bhaiya (Javed Jaffrey) try to come with dozens of ideas to help Bala get his hair back but to no avail. Latika, on the other hand, is a successful lawyer who is confident in her appearance.
Ayushmann Khurrana's Bala takes two social stigmas head on - premature balding and prejudice against dark-skinned girls. However, the larger point that the movie is trying to establish throughout is that of self-love. Ever since the debate of mental health started on social media, self-love has been a big part of achieving peace. Bala teaches you just that, and it doesn't really force the idea of it.
All through the movie Bala is trying to convince a wannabe model, Pari Mishra (Yami Gautam), without addressing the elephant in the room. However, it all boils down to appearances and how the world is wired to prefer those that are good-looking, as accepted by the society.
Despite its clash with Ujda Chaman regarding the concept, Bala is a refreshing change. It isn't preachy, except somewhat in the climax, and it has some brilliant performances by Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar, Yami Gautam, Javed Jaffery, and Saurabh Shukla. In fact, every actor in a prominent role has given a great performance.
Kudos to the director for getting a lot of socially relevant things accurately. Whether be it the popularity of TikTok in India, the magnitude of pre-marital relationships in small towns, or the issue of self-love, everything seems realistic and not just cinematic.
Bala reflects on the society in a big way. Aside from the theme of taking on premature balding and dark-skinned inferiority, Bala also touches upon patriarchy in a big way.
There are definitely a few shortcomings; Bhumi Pednekar might not have been the best choice to play a dark-skinned girl, but we aren't complaining considering her acting is superb. Other than that, the second half could have been trimmed a bit but that's one issue that plagues most Indian directors.
All in all, Bala is a great watch and Ayushmann Khurrana seems to have hit the ball way out of the park once again. This is his seventh consecutive hit movie and is sure to rake in moolah all through the next few weekends. It's not really important to make movies on social stigmas but if they are like Bala, we are up for the entertainment that ensues.
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar, Yami Gautam, Abhishek Banerjee
Director: Amar Kaushik
Producer: Dinesh Vijan
Bala is now running across Indian theaters in India and other countries.