Imagine yourself as a ten to twelve year old kid, who is the most popular guy in the class. You are not only popular for your personality, but also for your lustrous locks of hair, or as the narrator of this movie says, the ‘crown of your head’. But what if your very identity is robbed off, and your ‘crown’ remains no more on your head? How do you cope up with the same? Can you accept the reality? ‘Bala’ is a memorable film about the same issues.
Directed by Amar Kaushik of ‘Stree’ fame, ‘Bala’ stars Ayushmann Khurrana, Yami Gautam and Bhumi Pednekar in lead roles, supported by actors like Saurabh Shukla, Abhishek Banerjee, Javed Jaffrey, Dhirendra Kumar Gautam etc. This is the third film to focus on the problem of alopecia i.e. hair loss after the rather unknown ‘Gone Kesh’, and the recently released ‘Ujda Chaman’.
Set in Kanpur, Bala was once the heartthrob of his class, courtesy his charismatic personality, his mimicry skills, and his silky locks of hair. Fast forward 15 years, and Bala is struggling in his life, all thanks to the premature balding of his hair. No home remedy is good enough to even maintain the existing hair, forget reversing his baldness.
His childhood sweetheart leaves him, girls who ask his hand for marriage leave him on seeing his real identity and he is demoted in his job for an unimpressive personality. Adding more to his troubles is Latika Trivedi, an independent lawyer, whom Bala used to make fun of in school for her dark skin.
In desperation, Bala resorts to a wig, and soon gets attracted to a Lucknow based supermodel, Pari Mishra, who also happens to be a TikTok sensation (yes, you read that right). How does Bala cope with his problem, and whether he reveals the truth to Pari or not forms the plot of this film.
What’s Good –
To begin with, unlike Gone Kesh or Ujda Chaman, Bala is a quirky, yet empathetic take on male pattern baldness. The film focuses on the essential point of loving oneself, irrespective of the external flaws. The background music is quirky, the depiction of Kanpur is extremely authentic and the accent doesn’t look forced in any way.
Another great aspect about the movie is that it doesn’t enforce anything on the viewer. Other movies tend to be either too tone deaf or too preachy on this topic, but not Bala. Even if it tends to be so, the skilful direction of Amar Kaushik and the writing of Niren Bhatt comes to the rescue.
What’s Awesome –
The acting department of this film deserves a standing ovation for sure. Ayushmann once again impresses as Bala, the man for whom luscious locks of hair are even more precious than the Kohinoor diamond. Though he is almost typecasted as the small town guy, there is something about Ayushmann that never makes us feel bored at all.
Yami Gautam turns out to be the surprise package of this movie. As Pari Mishra, she depicts the personality of a fame hungry TikTok artist. However, I would recommend the TikTok fans (if any) to not go for this movie, since this movie also roasts the shallowness of such users with elan.
Another standing ovation needs to be given to the supporting cast. Be it Saurabh Shukla as the doting father, or Javed Jaffrey as Bachchan Bhaiyya, or even Dhirendra Kumar Gautam as the younger brother of Bala, everyone has nailed it in their respective roles without any doubt. Apart from that, the writing of by Niren Bhatt has also won hearts with this movie.
What Could’ve Been Better –
The only thing that made me frown was the way Bhumi’s character was portrayed in this movie. Her makeup looked too forced for her character, and in some scenes, her activism went off the mark as well.
However, if that is ignored, Bala is an out and out entertaining, as well as empathetic movie, that teaches us some beautiful lessons about living life. This is one movie that deserves a watch with the entire family, in the theater. We’d give this 4 out of 5 stars.