Love makes the world go round. And, filmmaker Anurag Basu shows you just how.
Devoid of any romantic metaphors and clichés that Bollywood has grown to love, his heart-wrenching, poetic take on love’s trials and tribulations isn’t overly dramatic.
It’s simple. It’s sweet. It’s unadulterated. And, it tugs at your heart.
He delightfully wipes out any parallel to his earlier “disastrous” romance ‘Kites’, and instead, focuses purely on the delicate complexities and bittersweet nuances of love.
It has no macho hero, whose physical disabilities miraculously disappear for lip-syncing musical dream sequence in the snow-capped Alps, or dainty heroines, who pucker and pout while sashaying around in designer clothes and perfect hair-do in every frame.
Then again, Anurag isn’t a candy-floss filmmaker like Karan Johar.
He’s one who prefers to give realism a Bollywood twist, and in ‘Barfi!’, he has, in fact, outdone himself.
Although there’s enough connection to his earlier hit movie ‘Life in a Metro’, with the musical trio making an discreet re-entry, and haphazard narrative that effortlessly shifts between characters and time-zones, ‘Barfi!’ is far more superior in texture, content and characterisation.
It’s a movie that gives love a good name.
Anurag also got music director Pritam and cinematographer Ravi Varman to help him make it picture-perfect. Had it not been for their expertise, this movie could’ve turned disastrous, leaving his physically-challenged lovers to be unsuccessful at tugging our hearts.
Instead, the master craftsmen help the lead trio of Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Illeana D’Cruz play out their histrionics spiritedly.
As the deaf-and-mute Barfi, who fails to woo the upper-class gorgeous Shruthi due to their physical and societal differences, only to find love in the loveable, autistic Jhilmil, Ranbir is impeccably superior.
We unquestioningly surrender to the charming Barfi as he takes us through a whirlwind of emotions. One moment, he’s tickling us silly, the other he’s got us all mushy, and in yet another, he’s made us weep. Although he has tried to imitate comic genius Chaplin in his steps, Ranbir’s got enough charm to call Barfi his own.
Even Jhilmil is well-created, and played out. Priyanka exercises matured restraint while essaying Jhilmil’s physical complexities, never once allowing her star status to sneak in. Something she was guilty of while taking on multiple roles in ‘What’s Your Rashee’ and ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’.
Southern actress Illeana compliments the duo with aplomb, lending a vulnerability and indecisiveness to Shruthi that very few actress in Hindi cinema are even capable of conjuring up. Her ethereal beauty lends a classic charm that lends a crucial voice to the other muted love story.
Saurabh Shukla’s endearing take on the pot-bellied, fiercely ambitious cop, who spends his entire life chasing Barfi, evokes many a laugh. The other supporting cast aren’t allotted much screen time to create an impression, but they are non intrusive. Ashish Vidyarthi also pitches in, within his limited frames.
‘Barfi!’ has incredible moments in abundance, and it’s tough to pick one, but a particular shot that focuses on Ranbir’s strokes on a painting canvas, only for the camera to pan out to unveil the real artist is striking. There’s even Barfi’s entry into the world that’s tuned beautifully to the frames in speedy, black-and-white flashback.
If anything, it’s the pace of the film, which could’ve done with a quick snip on the editor’s chopping board, or its uncanny semblance to Hollywood romance 'The Notebook', with an entire scene blatantly lifted from it. Even Anurag’s portrayal of Autism could receive flak, for veering towards Bollywood’s often done slip-up of confusing mental disorder with retardation.
However, Anurag manages to make us overlook these flaws, by lending his own flavour to 'Barfi!' and his fun escapades, leaving us truly speechless.