Badhaai Ho might star Ayushmann Khurrana in the lead, but the film’s heavy lifting has been done primarily by three actors — Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao and Surekha Sikri. The movie is a dramedy which you connect with emotionally, thanks to the credible portrayals of characters by the cast. While Ayushmann fits the bill of Nakul Kaushik, the Delhi guy who can be cool and calm, Sanya Malhotra as the educated, composed lady with a good head on her shoulders becomes a part of the narrative in the most organic fashion.
However, three people stole everyone’s thunder – Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta and Surekha Sikri. Gajraj as Jeetender Kaushik delivers a performance that is at once endearing and ‘real.’ There is a sequence where he is acquainted with Sanya’s character Renee for the first time and he immediately starts conversing with her in broken English. As soon as he started speaking, I was reminded of uncles who I knew had done the same thing; an attempt to speak the guest’s language to make them feel comfortable, but to also let the other party know that you are a worldly-wise person capable of interacting with people, irrespective of their social background.
Then there is the relationship that the characters of Neena and Gajraj share with each other, the kind only those people share who have seen each other grow possess. So when Neena’s Priyamvada becomes pregnant, Gajraj’s apprehensive but supportive character stands by her. They receive the mockery, the brickbats and the congratulatory messages with grace and strength, together. Neena, as the woman who holds the household and family together, is understated but effective.
A word for Surekha Sikri as well, because it is difficult to imagine anyone else playing the role of the strict, set-in-her-ways grandmother who is also capable of empathy in moments when it is absolutely required. The scene where she stands for her daughter-in-law in front of the family and expresses her love and belief in her is touching. Of course, these things would have been difficult to achieve had director Amit Ravindernath Sharma and writers Shantanu Srivastava, Akshat Ghildial, Jyoti Kapoor and Akshat Ghildial not written a script that was hilarious and sweet.