When I saw the title Badhaai Do float into my feed, I ignored it thinking I had already watched it (the name is confusingly similar to that of another film, Badhaai Ho) but my remote hovered over the face of Rajkummar Rao and I pressed play.

Badhaai Do, which is Hindi for Offer Congratulations, is a 2022 Hindi dramedy film written by Suman Adhikary and Akshat Ghildial, and directed by Harshavardhan Kulkarni. The film is produced by Junglee Pictures.

This film is not a literal sequel to the hilarious comedy 2018 film Badhaai Ho directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma, but it tries to emulate the prior film in addressing another relevant social issue.

Shardul Thakur, played by Rajkummar Rao, is a buff police officer of marriageable age. His widowed mother and his family are worried about his marriage.

Meanwhile, Suman Singh/Sumi (Bhumi Pednekar) meets a young man posing as a girl on a dating app. When she rejects his advances, he pesters Sumi and threatens her with blackmail.

Much to Sumi’s relief, Shardul, the cop, takes care of the blackmailing boy and comes up with his own proposal of marriage. The relieved families celebrate the wedding of Shardul and Sumi. As far as the families are concerned, not only are these two physically well-suited, but they belong to the same ethnic caste.

Unbeknownst to their families, the protagonists belong to the LGBTQ community and enter into a marriage of convenience while keeping their families, and the society at large, in the dark.

The movie is fast-paced and is filmed in the rustic outdoor locales, winding roads, and crisp air of Dehradun, and the verdant hills of Mussoorie. 

There is a brief honeymoon where Sumi meets Shardul’s boyfriend, Kabir. After returning from what looks like Goa, Shardul and Sumi move into their allotted police quarters.

They live as roommates rather than a romantic couple but keep up the pretense for their busybody neighbors. They even accommodate Sumi’s love interest Rimjhim, a lab tech. She lives with them while posing as a “cousin.”

Everything is going hunkey-dorey till the family starts putting pressure on the newlyweds to produce offspring, a glue to cement their relationship. To facilitate this, they are both clinically investigated without their volition.

Film still from ‘Badhaai Do’.

Congratulations are due to the producers and directors for shedding light on homosexuality in middle-class families.

Sheeba Chaddha, as Mrs. Thakur, Shardul’s mother, is exceptional in her role as a widow. Her expressive, heavily-kohled eyes and somewhat vacant expressions are rather droll. She is content with her passive existence, dunking rusks in her chai and allowing the extended family to dictate her life. She does not protest when she is bundled up and sent off to the married couple’s home to keep an eye on their conjugal relations. 

Mrs. Thakur tackles the sudden burst of activity in her life by bringing the viewers many laughs. She continuously seeks guidance from her co-sister, the burly Seema Pahwa, and even takes notes lest she has a memory lapse. Which she does!

Her interactions with Sumi are hilarious because she has no mean bone in her body, and is relieved to hand over her cheat sheet of instructions to her daughter-in-law. But when she discovers Sumi’s “real romantic partner,” the way her face crumbles—like rice in rice pudding—is phenomenal! 

The LGBTQ orientation of the couples is met by their families with astonishment, denial, anger, and finally a resigned acceptance, like in the movie Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhaan.

The turn of events is dramatic but not derisive. Shardul confesses that he is equally to blame, and they both agree to a divorce. Then Shardul finds out that their adoption request, which they’d jointly applied for, is approved.

The couple decides to adopt a baby and lead a life in the way they wanted, thereby reclaiming their open marriage with the blessings of their families. Worth watching at least once.

Monita Soni grew up in Mumbai and works as a pathologist in Alabama. She is well known for her creative nonfiction and poetry pieces inspired by family, faith, food, home, and art. She has written two...