The argument started with ‘we are again watching a good movie this late, thanks to you. It happened with Gangs of Wasseypur too.’ That eventually led to ‘you don’t give me enough time,’ with him buying me cheese popcorn and feeding me in order to calm me down.
We were sitting in a packed Andheri theater for an evening show of ‘Barfi!’ that had already swept audiences across the nation off their feet. We were late in watching the marvel. But it is better late than never, they say. “We need to talk,” I said, as the movie started and the lights went off.
Anurag Basu’s new movie ‘Barfi!’ starring Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and new comer Ileana D’Cruz is one of those Bollywood movies, that is not pretentious. It does not cut to song and dance Switzerland sequences, the heroine is not perfect with an hour glass figure, the hero does not flex muscles and drop towels, and nobody takes revenge on no one. The best part about Barfi! is that it does not follow a fixed formula. It has a soul. Just like the city Calcutta, where major parts of the movie has been shot.
It is apparent that Basu has made the movie with a lot of love. It is quite tough to believe that it is the same person who once directed the likes of ‘Murder’ and ‘Kites’. But after Barfi!, I think we all are ready to forget the past and applaud him for giving us this gem, and for sealing India’s official entry to the Oscars next year.
The film belongs to Murphy, aka Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor), who cannot hear and speak, lost his mother when he was a child, lives with his father in Darjeeling, plays prank on people and has a heart of gold. May I say that Ranbir Kapoor is a par excellence actor, and is now my absolute favourite after Aamir Khan?
His Charlie Chaplin-esque antics, his innocent love for Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz), his way of testing loyalty of his friends around, can make you laugh and cry at the same time. Priyanka Chopra as the autistic childhood friend of Barfi is adorable as Jhilmil Chatterjee. She looks more normal than what she does in the Garnier advertisement singing ‘No chip chip’.
Basu handles the love triangle well, without any overdose of Bollywood melodrama. The story set in the dreamy hill-station of Ghum, near Darjeeling is set between three different time periods – from 1972 to 1978 and present day. The movie starts with the present day and the story unfolds in flashbacks.
The director does not use Barfi’s physical disability as a crutch to make you feel sympathetic for him and cry buckets. Unlike a Rani Mukherjee in ‘Black’, Barfi makes you smile. You do not feel sorry for him. You laugh, cry, smile and enjoy along with him.
Barfi ensures that you do not stay sad or cry for too long. Be it him taking out an invisible heart and placing it at Shruti’s feet, or robbing a bank and not getting to hear the emergency bell, running away from the pot bellied local cop (Saurabh Shukla) or throwing a shoe up in the air in order to get Jhilmil’s attention outside her balcony, Barfi brings out all emotions out of you. Squeezes them out, almost.
Just when you will remember your first kiss and get happy goosebumps watching Barfi kiss the pretty Shruti, your eyes will well up moments after that, watching her marry her fiancé Ranjeet (Jisshu Sengupta). Shruti’s mother (Rupa Ganguly) convinces her daughter to marry someone who is ‘right’ for her because he is good looking, rich and is without any physical handicap, even though the mother may still be in love with the man she once convinced herself was wrong for her, ages back. Shruti’s dilemma and pain as a married woman, seeing Barfi now in love with Jhilmil, tugs the emotional chords.
This makes you introspect. Question yourself again and again. In retrospect, when you see Jhilmil holding Barfi’s little finger and sleeping peacefully for years till they grow old together, you understand that the language of love is worth more than anything – money, handicap, society, and everything that falls in between.
Ravi Varman’s beautiful cinematography and Pritam’s soulful music and background score compliments the script perfectly. Pritam honestly surpasses expectations and shuts all his critics up. Songs like ‘Main kya karoon’, ‘Phir le aaya dil’ stays with you long after you have left the theatre.
Barfi is not preachy. It merely teaches us to follow our heart. Be optimistic. Hold on to our loved one’s. Never give up. It is subtle, yet fantastic. It is a sad film that can make you happy. Amazing combination, right?
One might argue that the movie takes inspiration from a lot of things like Charlie Chaplin, Mr. Bean or ‘The Notebook’, but you are ready to overlook all criticism and flaws, because the innocence and the mere purity of the film overshadows everything else.
The best part about Barfi! however, is when you realise at the end of the movie, that Ranbir Kapoor was silent throughout and did not speak a single word. He seemed to have spoken a lot more with his expression and emotions than a lot of us ever can, with words.
This is not really a review. This is a realisation.
In our busy everyday lives, a film like Barfi! can put our head and heart in place and give us a much needed reality check, every once in a while.
By the time the movie got over, we were both silent, tears rolling down our eyes. We were baffled. In a good way.
“You wanted to talk?” he asked quietly while we made our way towards the exit.
“I don’t even remember,” I smiled and said, while squeezing his hand tightly.