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Bala movie review

IANS Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Bollywood’s Mr Disruptor is at it again, rewriting the rules of what the Hindi mainstream hero can dare to do on screen.

Only a couple of months ago, Ayushmann Khurrana was “Dream Girl”, the phone ‘sexpert’ who aces in impersonating a woman’s voice, and makes a living fulfilling fantasies of lonely men. This week, he returns as “Bala”, a 25-year old whose rapidly receding hairline sets off confident issues, because he is constantly fending against rejection in a world that openly discriminates against physical flaws.

Bala” has the Ayushmann advantage, evidently the best thing a filmmaker can hope to work with – creatively as well as commercially – right now in Bollywood.

Watching Ayushmann go as protagonist Bal Mukund Shukla – Bala to friends and family – you understand why casting the actor has been an advantage lately. He has managed to elevate his brand value to that of a star, because the audience flocks to see him. Yet, his characters are rooted in reality, letting writers and directors capitalise on his slant at experimentation.

Niren Bhatt’s script, however, is not solely about Ayushmann or Bala. There is a fascinating tri-faceted reflection of the human perception about looking good. If, on the one hand, Bala is tormented because he is losing out in personal and professional life owing to loss of hair, his neighbour — the darkskinned Latika (Bhumi Pednekar) — is used to another pertinent aspect of bodyshaming since childhood. She is the darkskinned girl in smalltown Kanpur, who is bright enough to carve her professional space as a lawyer, but not bright enough in complexion to interest the neighbourhood cool dude Bala through their growing-up years.

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