So let’s look at the recipe of this delightful Barfi.
The core ingredient of any film is the story and again, amazingly, this film has a story! Simple yet convoluted. The characters are simple, but as Rajesh Khanna says in Bawarchi “It’s simple to be happy, but difficult to be simple!” And the film does lose track towards the end, by trying to be complex.
And talking about Bawarchi, Anurag Basu has also been credited with the story. Well, in that case, an extra credit goes to him for not only writing it, but also selling the idea in this day and age of starcrap cinema. Take a story of a mute/deaf hero who doesn’t speak a word in the film, romancing an autistic girl and production houses might just kick you in the backside and blacklist you for life!
Now, let’s look at the secret behind the taste. Well, like any good Bawarchi will tell you, it’s about proportions. Basu, who goofed up while cooking up the insipid “Kites”, looks well prepared and seems to be treading familiar territory even though it is a completely fresh film, with no remnants from anything but Chaplin and maybe, Mr.Bean. But those are merely inspirations, not lifts!
So, Basu first gives his story a healthy helping of “Smooth as Milk” screenplay. Basu has written some really delightful scenes and he shows you his vision with utmost mastery. A chase scene in the beginning sets the pace for the film and you know that things are going to be swell! Having said that, just a few minutes away from the interval and post it, there is some helping of Lime Juice, which does cause some curdling, and the milk doesn’t remain as smooth. A few shifty moments in the seat, a few looks at the wristwatch. But if you hang on and let the visuals encompass you, the phase passes.
The visuals, yeah, or in cinematic parlance, the cinematography by Ravi K Chandran and Varman is simply like Ghee in the pan, sizzling! Most of the magic in the film is made by its stunning visuals. Ravi K Chandran and Varman give Anurag’s vision wings. There’s a scene where the protagonist catches fireflies with bubbles. Enchanting, to say the least!
Then the perfectly powdered music! It’s absolutely shocking that it could come out of a certain someone named Pritam. Though he has given some great albums, but this stands out for its authenticity (atleast until we find the inspirations!!) The music simply elevates everything to some other plain. Main Kya Karoon, Aashiyaan, Barfi are stellar tracks – perfect for the period film.
And then we come to the one thing which gives this whole recipe its identity. The sweet as sugar acting! And as I said earlier, amazingly, everyone acts. Saurabh Shukla gets a chance to do something worthwhile after a long time. Illeana looks absolutely stunning and acts with precision. Finally, something worthwhile travels from south to Bollywood! Phew. Then there is Priyanka, who has made it a point to do something different every now and then. Though she is endearing as the autistic girl, she actually acts like a mentally retarded girl. There is no compulsive or repetitive behaviour which autism is characterized by. Now, this I know is nitpicking, but Basu could have done well to keep it as vague as Mentally Challenged. I can associate Autism with Rain Man, Extremely loud and incredibly close… But then ofcourse, Basu would know more than me.
Anyways, that leaves Ranbir Kapoor, the life of the film. He oozes confidence in everything he does. From the cute shenanigans, to the mute display of anger/love/sorrow etc etc, Ranbir just captivates you with his performance. He doesn’t speak a word, but lets his whole body communicate. And it’s magical. Thank god for the Rishi Kapoor genes. Thank God for him, because otherwise Indian Cinema gen next is full of non-acting imbeciles who are either born into the industry or marry someone in it!
So, there you have it. Basu puts in his best recipe forward, with apt proportions of everything, except maybe the length. The film veers back and forth unnecessarily. A more linear format of storytelling would have been apt. Also, the plot goes a little awry in the quest to add mystery! He overdoes the sweet bit (20 mins shorter would have been ideal). It’s bearable due to Ranbir. A little bit of indulgence is acceptable when you have cooked up something this good. If you haven’t watched it yet, book a healthy portion of this Barfi, coz its bahut saaraa Brijwasi and just a little Ghasitaraam!
Rating: 7.5 /10 – for giving me (finally) a worthwhile experience in the theatre.
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