Once in a while there comes a movie where you are as entertained by its scope as you are moved. The 2018 release Badhaai Ho, helmed by Amit Sharma, falls under that special category. A lot has been said about what it achieved in terms of its performances and of course, the surprise box office numbers (made on an estimated budget of Rs 29 crore, Badhaai Ho had minted a whopping Rs 221 crore).
But what about the big, tiny moments that it was made of? Surely everyone remembers the Surekha Sikri outburst near the end of the movie, that angry climax which finally saw a mother-in-law of traditional, middle-class household stand up for her wronged daughter-in-law as she admonished her own daughter in front of the entire family? Turns out, that sequence also happens to be actor Gajraj Rao’s favourite from the movie. Rao became a popular name after portraying the bumbling but lovable Kaushik ji in the film.
Speaking with indianexpress.com, the actor said animatedly of his late co-star Surekha Sikri, “Kya intensity thi, baap re baap (What intensity she had, my goodness!). That was where I got my energy from to react.” The actor did not really have lines in the bit, he only had to react. “‘Haa maa, bol‘ (Yes, mother, please speak). Wo mere liye sabse mushkil tha, kyunki bina lines ke scene hai wo. Mere sath kabhi nahi hua aisa. Pura gala baith gaya mera, gale me jaise kuch chala gaya ho (That was really difficult for me, because I barely had any dialogues in that. It has never happened with me, I couldn’t speak because I was so overwhelmed. Like something was stuck in my throat). That was the magic of that film. Har memory uss film ki, har scene, wo 24 carat hai (Every memory, every scene from Badhaai Ho is magical),” gushed the actor.
But can you now imagine Badhaai Ho without Dadi’s stern, comical and looming presence? Turns out, filmmaker Amit Sharma was not convinced with the casting of Surekha Sikri. The director had confessed as much in an earlier interview with Film Companion, primarily because Amit had a preconceived notion of how Sikri would perform that role, having seen her act in passing in the Colors serial Balika Vadhu.
But it was not the only scene that Gajraj Rao still looks back with extra fondness from the feature; the actor also got candid about the song “Sajan bade senti” and said that he personally likes that bit better as he considers himself a non-dancer.
“Amit (Sharma, director) ko I had already confessed that I don’t know how to dance, so whatever you’re expecting from this scene, I might not be able to achieve. After doing that I was like ‘yeh kaise ho gaya,’ wo aapka liye impossible hai and agar aap kuch hadd tak achieve kar paate hai toh…main acha dancer nai hun, koi rhythm nahi hai (How did this happen, I asked myself, because the thing that seems impossible for you, if you manage to perform that decently, then that is a special feeling). It’s like asking a film journalist to write an article about cryptocurrency,” Gajraj laughed as he signed off.
From a screenplay by Akshat Ghildial and Shantanu Srivastava, Badhaai Ho was helmed by Amit Sharma. It starred Ayushmann Khurrana, Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao, Surekha Sikri, Sheeba Chaddha, and Sanya Malhotra in pivotal roles.
Badhaai Ho is available to stream on Disney Plus Hotstar.