Thanks to the hit machine Ayushmann Khurrana, Bollywood is back to finding the 'heroes' in regular life and slowly moving away from the larger than life portrayals. Ayushmann continues his golden form with Bala in which he plays Balmukund, a twenty five year old standup comedian and a marketing executive, who is suffering from pre-matured baldness.
Balmukund is introduced to us as a charming teenager who is the heartthrob of girls. Thirteen years later, Balmukund has lost most of his hair and all of his confidence and even his girlfriend ditches him for someone who has a head full of hair. He tries every tip from doing aasanas to putting cow dung and bull semen on his head to get back his hair. Nothing works out and he couldn't even go for a hair transplant because of his bad genes.
Bala decides to put on a hair patch as he goes to meet Tik Tok sensation Pari Mishra (Yami Gautam). Both fall in love with each other, but Bala couldn't dare to confront her about his baldness. They get married and she gets to know about the bald truth a day after their Suhaag Raat. She alleges him of cheating her by hiding the truth and files a case against him. Bala takes the help of his childhood friend, lawyer Latika (Bhumi) to bail him out of trouble. How does Bala get over his broken marriage and comes to terms with his balding issues forms rest of the story.
A film like this could easily go wrong as the director and writers will feel that there isn't much to dig into this concept except for cracking jokes on the relatable problem of most men. Ujda Chaman that released last week is an example for it. That film turned out to be a tedious watch because of its poor writing. But Ayushmann is not someone who is happy to do different characters. He makes sure that his films have solid script and go deep into the roots of the story to make it a memorable one. Bala is largely benefitted by superb writing from Niren Bhatt. He weaved a beautiful story around the concept of premature baldness with well etched characters and contemporary elements like Tik Tok. The scene where Ayushmann and Yami make Tik Tok videos like millions of youngsters out there is terrifically done.
It is easy for the writers to cross the line and pull of cringey jokes when penning down scripts like these, but Bala doesn't offend not even once in its whole runtime. It is primarily a Bala's show, but the female leads get their own defining moments. Both Pari and Lathika are well written characters and are right in their own way. The beauty of Bala is it doesn't make Pari look bad even if she is complaining about a near perfect man who just doesn't have enough hair on head.
The writing is so beautiful that we actually understand the concern of Pari and root for her to find a handsome man who she could happily flaunt on Tik Tok. Lathika is the representative of many people who doesn't bother much about their physical appearance and complexion. However, turning a fair-skinned Bhumi into dark-skinned lady looked odd at many times. The makeup artists were bang on with the bald looks of Ayushmann, but couldn't make Bhumi look like a dark skinned female.
Supporting cast has a huge role to play in this story. Shaurab Shukla is excellent as Bala's father and Seema Pahwa is as impressive as ever as Lathika's mausi. Abhishek Banerjee's performance is sweet and Dheerendra Kumar is a surprise package. The man of the moment Ayushmann has once again aced playing a commoner without a single flaw. His imitation of various Bollywood stars is on point. The man is pushing the bar higher with each film and every character. Bala is another award winning performance from the talented actor. He knows his strengths and keeps choosing scripts that will give him ample scope to be a relatable guy on screen.
Bala has its share of flaws like Bhumi's uneven makeup and pacing issues. The film's runtime is just over two hours, but it seems too long and dragged in between. Also the ending is very much predictable right at the beginning of the story where Bala and Lathika were introduced as school kids. Despite its shortcomings, Bala has many laugh out loud moments and beautiful characters that will stay for long with us even after we leave the theaters.
Director Amar Kaushik has presented the story in a very realistic way with characters that are straight out of life. There is a scene where Bala removes his hair patch after realizing the importance of self love. When Bala removes the hair patch everyone laughs at him before applauding his daring gesture. It is human tendency to laugh at someone's weakness and the director didn't present it like a dramatic scene and kept it as realistic as possible. Bala is a film that drives home a strong message about self love and also offers plenty of laughs.