Verdict: A well-rounded entertainer that shines through its writing.
After Sunny Singh overcame his insecurities as a balding young man in Ujda Chaman, it is Ayushmann Khurrana’s turn to don the bald look in Bala. The actor has already established himself as a master of bold characters with a whole slew of off-beat box office hits and his new avatar is equally interesting. Directed by Amar Kaushik, this unique comedy also features Bhumi Pednekar, Yami Gautam, and Saurabh Shukla, among others.
What’s Bala About:
Young Balmukund Shukla (Sachin Chaudhary) aka Bala from Kanpur is the hero of his classroom, adored for his luscious hair and his cool impersonations of iconic Bollywood actors. With his popularity also comes pride as he belittles his less popular dark-skinned classmate Lathika. Fast forward some years and Bala (Ayushmann Khurrana) gets his comeuppance, now being a 20-something who is prematurely balding. As his crop of silky hair begins to turn into a barren bald pate, he loses his childhood sweetheart. That’s not all, though. Along with his hairline, his self-confidence begins to diminish, leading his passion of being a stand-up comedian towards a dead end while he is also demoted at his job as a women’s fairness cream salesman. Looking for a way out of this situation, Bala tries out every hair growth remedy he can get his hands on and even ends up with a short-term fix. As things are looking up, he even falls in love with a gorgeous TikTok star Pari (Yami Gautam). Their relationship begins to blossom but Bala’s temporary solution might just get in the way of his happiness and his childhood friend Lathika (Bhumi Pednekar) seems to be his only ray of hope.
Bala is the kind of Bollywood comedy that uses the right combination of entertaining elements to deliver more than what it promises. Director Amar Kaushik replicates what he gave us with Stree, showing us once again how he can spin a serious situation into a light-hearted comedy without stripping away the substance. Paired with the exceptional dialogue and screenplay by Niren Bhatt and Ravi Shankar Muppa, this film has all the makings of a blockbuster. The fun voice-over narration by Vijay Raaz sets up an amusing ride while the strength of Bala’s plot lies its fresh setting and up-to-date humor. We get a glimpse of the booming TikTok culture in small-town India with Yami Gautam in her stand-out performance. Her and Ayushmann in their TikTok scenes are an absolute treat because who wouldn’t want to see Ayushmann mimic some of the most iconic songs from Bollywood history. It’s thoroughly hilarious and truly nostalgic.
Speaking of, as Ayushmann dons a new hat (a cap to cover up his balding head this time), he reminds us why he is one of the most talented actors of his generation. Bhumi Pednekar is also great as a confident woman. Offering an added layer of hilarity are Saurabh Shukla, Abhishek Banerjee, and Javed Jaffrey in their supporting roles. The first half of Bala is sure to engage you with its highly entertaining dialogues and performances which are then followed up by a feel-good message of self-acceptance in the second half, all while being incredibly hilarious. As Bala’s last dialogue in the film states, “Come, fall in love with yourself.”
What Could’ve Been Better:
Bhumi Pednekar’s character isn’t entirely convincing and her dark-skinned make-up sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise brilliantly executed movie. The film also tends to become a little rushed towards the end but, just like it’s characters, this comedy is beautiful even with all its flaws.
Why You Should Watch:
Bala is worth the watch because of its smart writing, exceptional performances, and constant flow of laugh-out-loud moments. It will leave you in a good mood and maybe even more confident in your own skin.
Watch what audiences had to say about Bala below.