Sequels in Bollywood are always problematic, as majority of the time it's just the same cast and makers in a brand new movie with a brand new story. But one new movie is wholeheartedly embracing the concept of a thematic sequel and having so much fun while doing it.
'Badrinath Ki Dulhania' is not a direct sequel to 'Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania', but has similar elements and is seemingly inspired by familiar stories.
The trailer for 'Badrinath Ki Dulhania' is a fun and exciting one with plenty of jokes, romance, and innovative interaction between the two leads. The movie itself looks pretty great and the tunes are oh so damn catchy! This one definitely looks like it may even improve upon the original, based on the fun factor alone. But it's not all flashy lights and club tunes, there is substance here as well.
While bragging about being 'the same team of' 'Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania', ('HSKD' from here on out) audiences didn't really know what else to expect as this movie seemed to be completely different characters in a entirely different setting. However, the one aspect of 'HSKD' that most resonated with audiences and critics was its homage to one of Bollywood's classic love stories, 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge'. The film featured a story line that paid tribute to that same story, but brought it into a modern age, with none of the tropes or formulaic aspects of the original movie. It was a unique and interesting adaptation that flipped the classic on its head.
'Badrinath Ki Dulhania' seems to be following a similar trend. While not a lot about the story can be discenered from the trailer itself, it seems to almost be addressing the plight of women in modern day India being harassed by young men, and how it may come off as more intrusive than cute.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but we're introduced to Varun Dhawan's character who feels like sending a marriage proposal to a girl he likes is the best way to go about 'picking her up'. We then see many scenes playing out like a typical Bollywood movie, of Dhawan showing up at her school, causing a scene during the girl's commute on a public bus, and essentially forcing himself on her, but in a cute sort of naively idealistic way. None of this is shown as being malicious, crude or vulgar in anyway, as even Dhawan's character points out in one scene. But these scenes in the movie may very well be pointing out the disconnect from reality of how these situations usually occur.
And that's where Alia Bhatt's character comes in, who is constantly calling out Dhawan's character's bullshit. As usual, Bhatt plays a headstrong and self reliant girl who isn't gonna stand for this level of subversive harassment from a random guy. This modernization of the typical love story that we see play out in every Bollywood movie, that always has dangerous undertones to them, may be the best part of 'Badrinath Ki Dulhania'. It's this very idea of the distorted cute-meet between the leads, that the movie may be highlighting and basing its story on, similar to 'HSKD's homage to the classic love story.
There is a line in the trailer where Alia Bhatt refers to respect being more important than love, that further fuels these vibes that the Trailer seems to give off, while still seeming like incredible amounts of fun and amazing-ness. Calling out these double standards and putting context to situations that are either intentionally ignored or misrepresented in a manner that still tells an enjoyable story without preaching, could potentially be amazing. But even without that kind of social commentary, the film looks interesting and a lot more fun filled than its predecessor.
Women being harassed is not a new problem, but rather a rampant one in India. There is constant debate as well about how Bollywood movies poorly portraying the dynamics of relationships further perpetuates this problem. More than often the hero is seen relentlessly pursuing the heroine in many of the ways mentioned above. In real life, a random strange man showing up unannounced at a girl's house, school, work, and commute would be troubling and dangerous, (among many other things) but movies romanticize the idea, especially as the heroine eventually gives in to the hero, followed by frolicking in the meadows, or rather a club as is the modernization of the trope.
Hoping that 'Badrinath Ki Dulhania' shines a light on this issue, is my own wishful thinking based on a Trailer, the lack of which definitely will not take away from this film being pretty good on its own. But it could be interesting if even a portion of these dynamics were represented in the film.
If a Bollywood movie can call out this disconnect between reality, in a movie story line itself, it could be one of the greatest things ever. Just like how 'HSKD' modernized a classic Bollywood story, calling out its portrayal of unrealistic conflicts, hopefully 'Badrinath Ki Dulhania' can give us a progressive idea of how a modern relationship begins in urban India, without perpetuating the same damaging tropes running rampant in society.