October Issue 2012
Movie Review: Barfi!
After a long run of typical Bollywood sagas, director Anurag Basu offers Hindi film buffs a welcome change in the form of Barfi!, which promises a different take on Bollywood love stories. It is one of the most intelligent and emotionally stirring films churned out in a long time.Barfi! stars Ranbir Kapoor — fresh from his stupendous success in Rockstar — as a deaf mute boy of Nepali origin and follows his bitter-sweet relationship with Jhilmil, (Priyanka Chopra), an autistic girl from a wealthy family. Newcomer Ileana D’ Cruz plays Shruti, who also comes from the upper crust, and she doubles as the narrator in the movie.
Barfi! is set in the cities of Darjeeling and Kolkata and the story is told in flashbacks. Originally named Murphy by his parents, Barfi ( Ranbir Kapoor) is a fun-loving, jovial character who wins everyone’s heart with his playful antics — and he always has a prank up his sleeve. He is a popular guy around town, even though he cannot hear or speak. He is attracted to Shruti (Ileana De Cruz), who is visiting Darjeeling with her parents. Despite Barfi’s disabilities, Shruti lowers her defences and ends up falling for him. Their short-lived romance soon ends, when Barfi finds out that Shruti is engaged to her college friend and also that Shruti’s mom is against her marriage with Barfi as she wants her daughter to have a normal life. Barfi then meets Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra), who is suffering from autism. Jhilmil is hidden away from society by her parents who put her in a special home for a long time, and she is brought back to Darjeeling only when her parents want to claim a share in the grandfather’s heritage. Jhilmil is devastated upon hearing of her grandfather’s death. When she meets and befriends Barfi she starts to feel so comfortable around him that she walks out of her house to be with him and never leaves his side. The two become very close and their affection slowly turns into love. Meanwhile, Shruti, who is now married, realises she still harbours feelings for Barfi, but Barfi has fallen madly in love with Jhilmil. There comes a point in the film when Jhilmil disappears; her family turns to the local cop, who pronounces her dead and is tempted to pin the crime on Barfi to placate the family and ensure his own job security. It turns out that Jhilmil and Barfi are actually on the run to Kolkata, where their shared experiences draw them closer. Even when Jhilmil relocates to a foster home for special children, Barfi tracks her down and finally marries her.
All in all, Barfi! is a movie which will appeal to all age groups. Anurag Basu’s delicate handling of the narrative takes the movie to a completely different level. All three actors turn in sterling performances and Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanaka Chopra will definitely give the actors a run for all the major awards next year. So will newcomer Ileana D’ Cruz, who shows no signs of nervousness and performs exceedingly well.
However, the movie has its shortcomings. Since there are few dialogues, it does get boring at times. And on many occasions, one does not comprehend what one actor is saying to the other in sign language. Additionally, the first half of the movie tends to drag as the story moves forward very slowly. And although the sound track is refreshingly sweet, one wishes that the songs had been spaced out. Since Barfi! is not like the usual Bollywood slapstick comedies and neither is it overly emotional, you will leave the cinema house on a cheerful note.
This article was originally published in the October issue.