Bala: A Film about Being Bald and Beautiful

A screenshot from film Bald.

Over the recent years we have seen how a host of films have been made about issues that mainstream cinema would have feared to touch earlier. These films emphasized more upon realistic, believable and relatable characters than make-belief, out of the world protagonists who may have looked macho, brave and unrealistically good looking but lacked any element of truth. 

But in the recent times, Bollywood seems to be on a mission to create and portray characters who are all geared up to break stereotypes, challenge the status quo and raise debates on tabooed subjects. 

It is interesting to note that the main lead or the crusader of such transformation in Hindi cinema has been none other than Ayushmann Khuranna. 

With his new release Bala Ayushmann Khuranna comes up with another story that challenges preconceived notions, the constraints of societal pressure, shame and the hindrances that the beauty industry creates to make it increasingly difficult for one to accept themselves as they are. 

The film reminds us that it is extremely important for us to accept ourselves as we are instead of holding unnecessary grudges against ourselves for not owning a ‘perfect’ appearance.  While this is an excellent message to give out, the film certainly falls into some loopholes. 

The film revolves around the life of Balmukund ‘Bala’ Shukla(Khurrana)who is  25 year old salesman with an ever growing bald patch. He sells fairness creams to women in Kanpur and is constantly mocked by them for being bald. He tries every possible hack and remedy but is unable to turn things in his favor.

 Despite trying, to his dismay no amount of oils infused with esoteric herbs, cow dung or even hair transplants work. Finally, he adorns a hat to hide the bald patch and this turns his life around. Eventually, he falls in love with Pari(Yami Gaautam) who also happens to be the model for the fairness cream he sells.

 But his world begins to tremble when he realizes that he has promised to marry her without actually telling her of his baldness. Bala’s childhood friend, Lathika(Bhumi Pednekar) makes things worse for them as she keeps making fun of his baldness.

 She is also the one, Bala had always mocked for her dark-skin. It all comes crashing down when Bala confronts everyone including his neighbors, the love of his life Pari and most importantly, himself, about his baldness.

 The characters, the plot, the interesting twists and turns and the comic timing all amplify the beauty of the film. 

While the protagonists have played their roles convincingly, even the supporting cast has come out with mind blowing performances. 

It is indeed heartening to see that Bollywood is finally taking its audience seriously and coming to terms with its moral responsibility. 

These films raise hope and enable us to see how Bollywood can be about socially sensitive and value changing discourses. While such films point at a much-needed and very positive change in the way that films in Bollywood are now being made, we must always ensure that they must not fall into the very trap of hypocrisy that they stand to oppose.


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