As advertised, ‘Bala’ is about a young man’s struggles with baldness. He has always been an insensitive prick, so it’s even tougher for him to accept his fate. And he blames everyone for it, especially his father. In a society that is riddled with biases and that gives undue importance to looks, he laments about his misfortune. While his family and friends may accept him as he is, he cannot accept his own condition. So he tries every trick in the book to get back his lost produce (Ghar ki Kheti)! The problem is compounded when he tricks a girl into marrying him, by covering up his condition under a wig. Will she stay with him? Or will she be as superficial as him? That’s what the movie is about. And in the middle of all of this, lies the biggest problem. A glaring ‘Blackface’ problem.
There are a lot of stigmas in our society and frankly, we are a bit of an insensitive lot. You might say we find joy in other’s misfortune. So if someone is ‘dark skinned’ or ‘short’ or ‘fat’ or ‘bald’, we make a joke about it. The film tries to find a parallel between the bias faced by a ‘dark skinned’ girl and a guy who is going bald. The girl who doesn’t care about her colour, makes him realise that the day you accept your own self, is the day you stop caring about what the world says about you. As Ayushmaan puts it in his final speech ‘It’s all about loving yourself’. Mighty strong message. But it all feels hypocritical when the film itself is guilty of blackfacing its crusader.
Bhumi Pednekar plays the ‘dark skinned’ girl who fights for the right of every girl that is body shamed. So its ironical that she herself has been blackfaced for this role. And her blackface make-up is so distracting, you forget everything else. It is just wrong. There is no justification for it. I don’t know what the entire cast and crew was thinking when they were doing it. The fact that they couldn’t cast a naturally ‘dark skinned’ girl to play the role makes it a lesson in hypocrisy. And it shows just how clueless some people in Bollywood are. Societal issues are just fodder for some quick bucks.
And it’s a shame because this is not a bad film. The ensemble cast does a great job. I absolutely loved Yami as the TikTok star. She is the perfect example of a girl who has nothing but her beauty to fall back on. She knows that and makes best use of it. She is not bad at heart, but she isn’t a hypocrite either. Some of the moments created between her and Ayushmaan are really howlarious.
But for a film giving a message laced in laughter, it’s tough to look past its bald-faced lie. And so when it’s trying to give you a lecture about how shallow our society really is, you just wish it had looked in its own ‘girebaan’. I am sorry, but I just cannot support the film. Such films compound the problem and perpetuate the belief that you need to be a certain colour to act in a film, even if the film is tackling the same problem. Bala really turned out to be Shaitaan ka Saala.
Rating : Let’s just say I am biased and forget about the rating. It’s a good film if you are not enraged by its hypocrisy.
P.S: And for those thinking, why is it OK for a man with hair to play a bald guy… Well, how many men have really suffered because of lack of hair? Really!