Writing Veetla Vishesham: RJ Balaji On The Changes He Made To The Badhaai Ho Remake, Film Companion

Veetla Vishesham, RJ Balaji’s Tamil remake of Badhaai Ho stars a seasoned ensemble cast. While Sathyaraj and Urvashi reprise the characters portrayed by Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta, RJ Balaji and Aparna Balamurali step into the roles played by Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra, in the remake. What made Veetla Vishesham stand out as a remake is the changes RJ Balaji and co made to the original script. 

“We had a great skeleton to build on as Badhaai Ho is a very good film,” the RJ-turned-actor says. “On the outset, Badhaai Ho might look like a very progressive and happy film, but it was regressive in some parts. So, we thought we would take off all those things. Also, I think the most uninteresting track in the film was Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra’s characterization and their love track. So, we improvised a little on that.” In this Deep Focus with Vishal Menon, RJ Balaji talks about his writing process and the changes he and his team made to the remake. 

 

Change In Hero’s Job

The filmmaker reveals that his team took some effort to change the script for Tamil audiences. He reveals that the first thing he wanted to change was the job of Ayushmann Khurrana’s character. “Ayushmann’s character worked in Godrej (in Badhaai Ho). But I realized the need for his job to do something in the film. Even though his profession has a limited screen presence, Elango (in Veetla Vishesham) works as a biology school teacher and wants his students to learn sex education. For a person who is so broad-minded, he is not able to think progressively and accept the events that unfold in his life. We wanted to show this irony.” 

Writing Veetla Vishesham: RJ Balaji On The Changes He Made To The Badhaai Ho Remake, Film Companion

Abortion Is A Sin

In the original, Neena Gupta wants to give birth because she considers abortion a sin. RJ Balaji and co did not want that to be the reason why Urvashi’s Krishnaveni keeps the child in the remake. “We discussed and finally decided that women don’t need any reason to decide that they need a child. The point is stressed twice in the film as well,” he says, adding, “We show everything twice in the film. For example, the biscuit guy knocks on the door when Elango rushes out angrily after hearing that his mother is pregnant. He later appears when Sowmya (Aparna Balamurali) visits Elango when no one else is in the house as well. Similarly, Sathyaraj asks Urvashi if he can apply the dye in the initial scenes and he does the same during the wedding sequence.  Everything happens twice as this creates a recall (factor) in the screenplay. The jokes will work better in the screenplay because the biscuit guy character appears again.”

Writing Veetla Vishesham: RJ Balaji On The Changes He Made To The Badhaai Ho Remake, Film Companion

Every Character Apologizes In The Film

RJ Balaji says that the third and most important decision was that each character asks sorry. He says, “Everyone has a good heart in this film. The mother of the heroine says all nasty things because she is worried about her daughter. But later on, she feels that the hero’s family has raised a good boy. So, she tells the heroine to convey her apologies. This is not there in the Hindi version. The hero’s grandmother will also not apologize in Hindi, but besides supporting Urvashi’s pregnancy, she also apologizes to her in this film.”

Writing Veetla Vishesham: RJ Balaji On The Changes He Made To The Badhaai Ho Remake, Film Companion

A More Progressive Choice 

The scene after Sathyaraj and Urvashi visit the doctor and discuss the situation sitting in a car plays out beautifully and very differently from the original. The scene only gets better as Urvashi’s pro-choice speech has an organic flow to it. Explaining the changes made to the scene, RJ Balaji says, “The justification of that scene is just one line when he asks ‘what will people say? ‘, for which she replies, ‘When haven’t they? When we got married and didn’t have kids for four years, do you remember what they said, I do.’ It is a scar that is created by the same people. I’m talking about relations and society. This is her justification.” Similarly, he feels that the grandmother’s (KPAC Lalitha) support sequences played out more organically here. 

Writing Veetla Vishesham: RJ Balaji On The Changes He Made To The Badhaai Ho Remake, Film Companion

Recalling the scene where the heroine’s mother makes a class-related joke and the changes he made to the way the heroine reacts, RJ Balaji says it was a small yet significant change. “There is a class joke when Sowmya’s (Aparna Balamurali) mother asks her about all the names of his family members stuck on the back of the car and where will they stick her name after marriage. In the Hindi version, the heroine remains silent. Here, she sarcastically says she will stick it in the front. These are a few small but right things to say in a film”, the director-actor concludes. 

Writing Veetla Vishesham: RJ Balaji On The Changes He Made To The Badhaai Ho Remake, Film Companion

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