Review: Bala (2019)

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Bala is the first Bollywood film I’ve watched. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was entertaining and fun.

A disembodied voice introduces the film, sharing how hair is desired, but that beauty can be fickle. Bala was a popular kid who made fun of the teacher for being bald. Karma, being as it is, Bala (played by Ayushmann Khurrana) lost his hair an unusually young age.

A central theme was the dissonance between promoting beauty products while Bala was uncomfortable with his own appearance. He taped paper over the top of his mirror so that he couldn’t see his scalp. As more and more radical ways failed to restore his hair, he finally settled on a hair piece. His career as a cosmetics salesman was going flat until he became well-coiffed and confident again.

Bala created lots of zany videos to woo Latika Trivedi (played by Bhumi Pednekar). Dating a beautiful actress cemented his fears so he tried to maintain his secret. Eventually, he came close to honesty but repeatedly failed in comical ways. It wasn’t until after the wedding that Latika learned about his baldness. She couldn’t accept him and filed suit to have the marriage annulled.

The keywords for the film are beauty, secrets, romance and shame. Bala kept his baldness secret out of shame. He was enamored with beauty, promoting it to his clients, having an attractive girlfriend and longing for the beauty he had as a youth. When the romance fell apart, he was able to release his shame and leave the deceptive career peddling beauty aids. He couldn’t persuade women who wanted fair skin to feel less-than while he was ashamed of baldness.

I enjoyed the light-hearted movie. With so many blockbusters filling the theater, it might be a while before I can see another Bollywood film, but I like what I’ve seen.

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