Critic’s Rating: 4.0/5
Story: Balmukund Shukla aka Bala (Ayushmann Khurrana) tries all sorts of hacks to grow back his silky smooth hair, but to no avail. Finally, he finds a fix, but will that bring him permanent happiness?
Review: “Hum aapki khubsoorti ka raaz hai, aapke sarr ka permanent taj hai.” Attention, this is your hair talking and that is how Bala begins. A quirky voice-over (Vijay Raaz) sets the stage for a fun ride at the expense of the film’s hero. He is all of 25, but looks way older, thanks to his diabetes and bald pate that has replaced what was once a dreamy crop of silky hair.
His childhood sweetheart has also left him and he is demoted at his job as the salesman for a women’s fairness cream. But, Bala is not a sobering mess. Instead, he takes the challenge head on (no pun intended). Bala doubles up as a stand-up comedian where he imitates Bollywood stars and is actively seeking various remedies for his hair loss. These range from ridiculous to bizarre. The situational comedy brings ample opportunities for the first half to be high on fun with witty one-liners that will leave you in splits. Ayushmann owns every scene making Bala’s plight look believable as well as hilarious. He gets the Kanpur accent bang on with accurate body language and other nuances. You can empathise with him but he never comes across as a pitiful character even when his chips are down. All thanks to the smart writing of story, screenplay and dialogues by Niren Bhatt.
Among the actresses, Bhumi Pednekar is impactful as the strong-headed lawyer Latika, who has always faced bias due to her dark skin. However, her make-up doesn’t look very convincing. Yami Gautam (as Pari Mishra) looks beautiful and is quite impressive as Kanpur ki superstar, who is full of herself. Her character reflects the current trend of small town influencers on social media and their growing popularity. Among the character actors Saurabh Shukla, Abhishek Banerjee, Seema Pahwa and Javed Jaffrey lend good support and often bring in the laughs. The film’s music plays mostly in the background and blends well with the narrative. The reference to the various 90s tracks is endearing.
Director Amar Kaushik tries to drive home the message about how our society mocks those who are different. The film tends to get preachy in the second half with the message about societal prejudices hammered down repeatedly. This takes away from the film’s fun quotient, but the story continues to engage the viewer, mostly due to Ayushmann’s stellar performance.
But overall, ‘Bala’ remains a light-hearted comedy with situations that are relatable. Just like the film’s message, ‘Bala’ is beautiful even with its flaws, and never fails to entertain.