Barfi – Movie Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on September 14, 2012 | 1 Comment
PRODUCER – Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapoor
DIRECTOR – Anurag Basu
WRITER – Anurag Basu
CAST – Ranbir Kapoor, Ileana D’cruz, Priyanka Chopra, Saurabh Shukla, Ashish Vidyarthi
MUSIC – Pritam Chakraborty
We, Indians are emotional people yet it is difficult for us to tell truly tender stories without drama or melodrama. We also find it difficult to tell tales of physically and mentally challenged individuals in a truly inspiring manner. In a history of more than hundred years, only stray names like Sparsh, Koshish and a few others come to mind. Then, we suddenly have ‘Barfi’, a touching love story of a deaf and mute boy and an autistic girl. That the director Anurag Basu does it in an atmosphere of increasing bawdiness and melodrama masquerading as emotion is a feat in itself.
Barfi is the story of Murphy (Ranbir Kapoor), a deaf and mute boy who is called Barfi because that’s how he can articulate his own name. Happy-go-lucky, charming and completely free of the baggage of his disability, Barfi lives with his loving father (Akash Khurana) in scenic Darjeeling. One day he meets Shruti (Ileana D’cruz) and charms his way into her heart but only to find himself rejected for another man. Life throws another blow in the form of his father’s illness for which he needs money. Barfi hatches a plan to kidnap Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra), the autistic daughter of his father’s boss for ransom. But he is unaware of the plans life has ahead of him.
The film is structured as a mystery, tracing the appearance and disappearance of Jhilmil over a span of decades that also has a dubitable father (Ashish Vidyarthi), a police officer Saurabh Shukla) and the dangerous temptations of money, in the mix. Yet, it is infused with abundant whimsy, tenderness and dedicated charm that leaves the suspense as a mere hook that takes the story forward. There are innumerable Chaplinesque references (and if one may daresay, straight lifts too) and the flair with which Ranbir Kapoor carries them off is sheer delight. There is no spoof or sense of tribute at play, just a plain joy of comic-flavoured episodes to refresh the film at the same time outline characters and relationships. Because, all those episodes don’t serve as mere ‘breathers’ from a heavy story but as details to share with us Barfi’s spirit and relationship with Jhilmil and the world at large.
Perhaps, the never-firm tone of the film is its biggest charm. It constantly veers from a light-hearted voice, to subtle pain, to suspense and the threat of worst to come and immense feel-goodness. In its spirit, it reminds us of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s much-acclaimed and visually compelling Amelie, where this very tone was never set and the free-ranging whimsy was one of the delicious take-aways. The film also borrows the sensibility (and a bit more) of ever-lasting, immortal love from Nick Cassevetes’ Notebook but nowhere undermines its own value by doing so.
There is a sheer balance of tenderness that the director Anurag Basu maintains in the treatment of his characters that is translated in the way he captures the misty Darjeeling around him as well. There is a lot of love and care one senses, in the crafting of the moments and keeping the reigns of the rather fragmented narrative together. Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra honour that love with equal amount of commitment, the former investing his natural effortlessness and the latter a delicious sense of balance to give us characters we rarely get to feel so much for. Ileana D’Cruz, in her Bollywood debut performs with confidence, portraying the various underpinnings of her character with heart.
It is rare to get a film that has beautiful music (after a long time from Pritam) and is used equally well. The title track, Phir Le Aaya Dil by Arijit Singh and Kyon by Papon and more, accompany the film with gentle emphasis enhancing the pleasure of the already well-told story.
There is no contrivance or phoniness in the film, nor is there a moral lesson. There is simply a heartfelt attempt to tell a touching story of unique individuals, stories we don’t listen to often and individuals we don’t care about often. For mainstream Bollywood, a film like this is nothing short of a miracle in all its manifestations.