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Bala movie review: witty & densely woven gem on love, humanity & acceptance

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BALA movie review is here. Starring Ayushmann Khurrana, the movie is about a man suffering from alopecia. Bhumi Pednekar, Yami Gautam, Javed Jaffrey, and Saurabh Shukla featured in supporting roles. Released on November 07, 2019 (select previews), BALA is directed by Amar Kaushik. Does BALA repeat the magic of Amar Kaushik’s STREE?!, raises or drops the hair (read bar) ?!. Let’s find out in the movie review of BALA.

Immediate reaction when the end credits roll
BALA – a movie that makes everyone from the actor, writer, director and the audience put their hair down in Bollywood’s most remarkable and relevant coming of age saga to come in recent years.

The Story of BALA
Balmukund Shukla urf Bala (Ayushmann Khurrana) as a child had smooth silky and long hair but unfortunately the growth and of his hair fails to reciprocate with his growing age. Bala – the man from Kanpur is suffering from alopecia and all his attempts to win back his pride (hair) fails miserably. Bala hides his baldness and is unable to cope with reality. When Pari Mishra (Yami Gautam) the online sensation and model of the beauty brand which he markets comes into his life, things turn into a dream. The aspiring standup comedian and charming Bala wins over Pari but is this match perfect and real?. As Bala struggles between his fantasy and reality, Bala’s childhood friend Latika Trivedi (Bhumi Pednekar) who always played Kubja in school due to her looks instigates the debate on fact and fiction, reality and dreams, beauty – inner or outer, love and acceptance.

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BALA movie review
 
Capturing right from the first frame with the mesmerizing voice-over of Vijay Raaz which says “Hum aapki khubsoorti ka raaz hai, aapke sarr ka permanent taj hai, hum bal hai.” (rough translation – I am the secret behind your duty, the permanent crown over your head, I am hair). Sounds like an autobiography of a hair getting read in a school?!. Exactly, Niren Bhatt’s writing has a novel beginning where the subject matter talks about the protagonist. There is a constant underlining statement in the angst of Bala played by Ayushamann Khurrana.

A local Bachchan lookalike Bachchan Bhaiya played by Javed Jaffrey, When Bala is about to get a hair patch fixed, camera pauses for a few seconds on the sketches of Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan on one hand and somewhere in the movie a dialogue that reminds that the great Rajnikant doesn't wear a wig in real life, results in delivering that rare magical sweep that hardly happens in Bollywood mainstream. Bala questions the adage of beauty and charm and who else than the King Of Romance Shah Rukh Khan as the metaphor for the debate.

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Bala’s obsession with SRK – hair, dimples, and charm is used so brilliantly that the movie doesn’t remain a story of a man suffering from baldness, it seamlessly delves further into how masculinity/beauty is understood in the world we live in.

All this is done with a quirky tribute to Bollywood which is entertainingly spoofy with hidden layers of reality. The winning combo of STREE – Director Amar Kaushik, writer Niren Bhatt, and producer Dinesh Vijan come together to surpass themselves in a well-observed and executed gem. Niren Bhatt’s writing and Amar Kaushik’s solid understanding of the subject, the milieu and the reach of his actors in his joyous, enjoyable and thought-provoking debate on fact and fiction, love and acceptance results in BALA ending up as a seamless coming-of-age drama that is destined to ‘grow’ on your heart and head.

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Ayushmann Khurrana gives the performance of his lifetime in BALA, his best till date. Perhaps the actor we have now who can do anything and it will always be so convincing.

Bhumi Pednekar is class apart.

Yami Gautam turns out o be the best choice as Pari.

Saurabh Shukla is outstanding as always. Dheerendra Gautam who plays Ayushmann’s younger brother has his moments. Jaaved Jaaferi (Bachchan Pandey) is fantastic. Seema Pahwa as Latika’s aunty is excellent. Sunita Rajwar as Bala’s mother, Umesh Shukla as Bala’s nana, Mushtaq Khan as the lawyer Raina and  Deepshikha Chikla as Yami’s mother chip in with adequate support. Child actors Sachin Chaudhary and Saniya Touqeer also leave their mark.

Special mention for Vijay Raaz’s voiceover is a must.

Anuj Rakesh Dhawan's cinematography captures the environment nicely and transports the viewers. Mayur Sharma's production design is authentic. Hemanti Sarkar's editing is sharp.

Flaws
While the prosthetic of Ayushmann Khurrana is spot on, the makeup of Bhumi Pednekar could have been toned downed a bit. If this was done desperately to attract eyeballs and instigate debate then it’s done at face. Plus Bhumi needed more scope.

Final words
BALA is the best coming of age drama to come to Bollywood in recent years, having Ayushmann Khurrana giving his best, Yami Gautam at her charming best and a class apart Bhumi Pednekar, this witty & densely woven gem on love, humanity & acceptance is destined to grow on the heads and hearts of the audience who will spread their arms in SRK style with those dimples of cheer. Do Not Miss.

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