Two years after their National Award-winning film, ‘Badhaai Ho’, is set to take the franchise forward with ‘Badhaai Do’. Directed by Harshavardhan Kulkarni, it features Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar, who’ll be seen together on screen for the first time. And the director believes that getting the talented duo on board is half the job done.
“Their characters are unique in that they incorporate comedy, certain goofiness and display some quirks. I could see only Raj and Bhumi playing them. And I’m confident that the explosive chemistry between them will combust on screen,” asserts Harshavardhan.
The filmmaker, however, admits that turning a film as loved as ‘Badhaai Ho’ into a franchise comes with its set of challenges that are a little bigger than directing an independent film. “Firstly, you have to write something that will be supremely exciting, not just for us, but also for the audience. In this respect, I was lucky because the writers, Akshat Ghildial and Suman Adhikary were already developing the script, when I came on board and with the groundwork done, it took a little pressure off me,” he admits.
The 2018 comedy-drama had revolved around a 40-plus couple, with two sons, one in high school, the other a 25-year-old professional in a steady relationship. Their lives are progressing smoothly when, one day, Jeetendra Kaushik’s mother, who lives with them, taunts his wife Priyamvada. While he tries to soothe her, they get intimate and 19 weeks later, discover that another baby is on the way, much to the horror of their sons and the smirking amusement of family, friends and neighbours. Even though it touched on the taboo subject of parental pregnancy, the film did it with sensitivity and gentle humour and the response was overwhelming. “Every story has to have a heart and ‘Badhaai Do’ has a very big heart,” Harshavardhan points out.
Prod him for details and he keeps it short, saying Raj is playing a tough cop while Bhumi is a PT teacher who aspires to play handball for the country. “We’re also tapping a big social issue with this film. It’s too early to reveal details. All I can say is that ‘Badhaai Do’ is as much a family entertainer as ‘Badhaai Ho’, only the world we’re creating is becoming more diverse. It moves from a small town to a bigger one and then, on to something else. There’s a lot of colour and drama,” he promises.
The film goes on floors in January and Harshavardhan is in the process of locking the locations. “It’s set up in the North and winter is the best time to shoot there. It will be a mix of small town and city,” he shares. Isn’t he worried about shooting in real locations in the midst of a pandemic? He justifies the decision, saying they will be taking all precautions, and following all government-notified SOPs. “We are all concerned and will take good care. Even during the recce, the team was tested before we left on our travels and we stayed together in a bubble. Even for reading sessions, we are doing everything possible to minimise the risk of catching the virus,” he says fervently.
‘Badhaai Ho’ featured Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra as Kaushik’s elder son Nakul and his girlfriend Renee, Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta as the pregnant couple, Surekha Sikri and Shardul Rana as the mother-in-law and younger son, and Sheeba Chaddha as Renee’s mother. “There are many more family members this time around because, as they say, the more, the merrier. We’ll have a mix of known actors and fresh faces who’ll become big names after this film. Be assured, it’s going to be a kadak ensemble,” he states.
Amrita Pandey is equally excited about the franchise and looking forward to the shoot early next year. “The director and his team, along with the writers, have creatively reimagined some of the elements keeping in mind the current scenario,” she says, reiterating that government guidelines and safety and hygiene protocols will be strictly followed. “We’ve deployed a specialised Covid sanitisation team to ensure that sets, equipment, vehicles and the living areas of the cast and crew are sanitised and fumigated regularly. Plus, there will be an isolation space on standby for emergencies. We understand that people who are key to filmmaking are coming together to make ‘Badhaai Do’ happen, so it is essential for us, as producers, to make sure everyone feels safe on our sets.”