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Movie Review: Barfi!

Published Sep 23, 2012 09:42am


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Barfi! was written and directed by Anurag Basu and stars Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D'Cruz. — Courtesy Photo

Young people in love — language and physical limitations be damned! Anurag Basu is a wunderkind, and Barfi! — like its namesake — is fantabulous!

If you’re one of the few who managed to see Barfi! — the new sentimentalized Bollywood rom-drama starring Ranbir Kapoor as an endearing, off-kilter deaf-mute — at either Nishat or Capri before their untimely demise yesterday, then of course you would have come out with one of twon otions. One: you’d love to hate its simplistic, at times shuffled, turn of events. Or, Two: You’d hate to love its simplistic, skillfully multi-layered, characterization.

Ranbir Kapoor, we’re shown in song and sepia toned flash-back, is born to a poor, yet loving, couple in Darjeeling. As it was the olden-days before television, the couple was smitten by their radio. And so when they had a boy, they named him “Murphy” – ala, their radio’s brand. The boy, in a cruel twist, is born deaf-mute, and pronounces his name Barfi.

The name sticks, like a staining Popsicle drip. And it had good reason to.

Barfi is a riot —a readily love-struck character whose muteness is twisted to Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplain-esque grandeur by co-writer and director Anurag Basu. Basu, whose previous credits are MurderLife in a Metro – and more recently – Kites, cranks-up and winds-down Barfi!’s emotional beats with pin-point precision. And his casting couldn’t be more spot-on.

As Barfi, Kapoor channels the right measure of old-school physical comedy to cement the fact that his character is non-affected by his handicap. Playing-up at his own expense (he runs and jumps all over the green and concrete of Darjeeling, but never mimics or puts down any of the film’s supporting cast) there’s a visible emotional change in him as the film matures.

Barfi’s alteration is simultaneously minute and evident — as is Kapoor’s powerhouse performance. In some ways, his pragmatism compliments Barfi!’s purposely fractured story-telling.

The story opens with Shurti (Ileana D’Cruz, in white hair), receiving a telegram about Barfi’s old-age collapse. As she makes her way to Darjeeling, we see pieces of Barfi’s life via Shruti or the film’s other chief narrator, Saurabh Shukla.

One of the easiest (and clichéd) ways out of dealing character-driven stories is to nail unfolding events to the voice or presence of a direct or in-direct chronicler. Telling a multi-layered, content-heavy life-account without a narrator is as tricky as it is perspiring for the writer; Filmmakers (say Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Guzaarish and Black, or Paul Thomas Anderson in Magnolia) turn to a chronicling voice by instinct. Sometimes the voice stay’s for select moments appending the narrative. Sometimes it takes over the movie.

So while at first Shruti’s narrative voice did “sound” conformist to the idea of “serious storytelling”, it took a while to realize just how right Basu’s aesthetic call was  — Like most of the Barfi!’s deftly crafted finesses.

While some may argue Basu’s inclination to add a mystery angle to a romantic-drama, the idea – like the soundtrack by Pritam and the visual effects by Pixion– slip and slides comfortably into Barfi!’s painstakingly maintained, quirkiness or its genuine warmth (a large helping of the film’s dazzling warmth comes from cinematographer Ravi Varman, by the way).

As Barfi!’s emotional barometer hikes-up, one cannot help but applaud Basu’s distinctive transformation into a cinema-auteur.

Basu, in total command of his dominion, offsets a characteristic divide between Barfi’s initial romance with Shruti and his more intuitive, and involuntary, attachment with Jhilmil. With Shruti, he seals his first-love with a soft kiss. With Jhilmil, the response is as simple as a head-butt.

Sometimes, a head-butt is all it takes to seal the deal.


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Comments (31) Closed

Bhavani Pani Sep 24, 2012 10:33am
You can love it or hate it but you cannot ignore such works of cinematic art. It forces you to analyse various scenes, dialogues, characters etc. etc. You approve some and also disapprove some. That is the hallmark of a 'good film'!
KhanChangezKhan Sep 24, 2012 05:52am
Highlights must also be on Pakistani Films because most of Pakistani Cinema Houses are showing Pakistani films while only few cinema houses showing Indian Films. We should must promote our own Cinema Industries instead of Indian movies. You will never find any comments in Indian Medias focusing Pakistani films then why do we??????? Similarly we are advertising and promoting Indian products in Pakistan, e.g. Sandhi Sudha etc., etc. Did anyone have seen promotion of Pakistani products in Indian advertising Medias?
aku Sep 24, 2012 07:46am
well made, good quality... but was too slow, entertainment value was low!
ramkumar bisht Sep 24, 2012 11:38am
i think it should be named as the " Masterpiece of Bollywood cinema"
lilly Sep 24, 2012 02:24pm
awesome work by ranbir and priyanka, flawless, speechless
sharma Sep 25, 2012 05:48am
jab barish hoti hai to sab bhigte hain miyan, tum kaise bachoge.
sanjib(india) Sep 25, 2012 05:10am
do not do that. coz indians have already a strong feeling that pakistanis are so confused.
iqby Sep 24, 2012 07:44pm
Why- were you not able to get tickets??
viktor Sep 24, 2012 11:50pm
'Bol' movie was applauded deeply in India, so it is not the case of two countries, its only the message the movie conveys and effort in acting lead it to heights. According to me " Bol" was a brave effort and so does BARFI... cheers
malik Sep 25, 2012 03:37am
Nice movie and a superb review.
Reveller Sep 24, 2012 06:37am
I'm not a hindi movies fan, but it felt great when I heard that this movie has been selected for India's Oscar nomination this year. Hope it wins a few awards there and make us proud.
nishat Sep 25, 2012 02:59am
I am from bangladesh and I think the way all the actors have performed (specially Ranbir and priyanka), the perfect direction by Anurag, and offcourse the music...........I think the pride is for all of us I mean the whole south Asia. Just speechless........both Ranbir and we the viewers. God put some sense to our Government to lift the ban over importing Indian film.
Maddy Ally Sep 23, 2012 10:32pm
Barfi - Simply speechless and outstanding.... Best MOVIE in the recent past.!! every moment in the movie is just magical.!! I appreciate every character and blossom like gravity it fetched... from the first second of the movie to the last minute.............. Do watch if you cherish love among the souls regardless of the differences and odds in the personalities looks against selfish lookout.. If you want to understand true meaning of healthy possessiveness.. if you want to understand how you are expected to love unconditionally...... Appreciate Barfi for all the valuable moments.! I wish people do take it the way its expected to!!!!!! :D [?????]
HEARTBEATS Sep 24, 2012 10:05am
Simran Sep 23, 2012 08:40pm
awesome movie. reefines love and emotions. no language, no religion no boundries.. just love.. hats off
Monty.. Sep 25, 2012 03:19am
Hmm... thats not true...just pakistan movies are not that popular here...But I did watch a movie by name.. Khuda ke liye..It was released in India...And it was really good..Just that social factors in Pakistan have not been much favorable for cinema industry...And you speak of sandhi sudha,,,,An old man's pain doesnt care about country...Only those people know of the agonising pain they suffer...
Sheetala Sep 24, 2012 07:15am
This movie was very disappointing. I don't like it when the handicapped are represented as cute and cuddly. This glosses over very real issues that families deal with when they have a handicapped child.
afzal Sep 24, 2012 03:03pm
hehehe........... cry cry and cry...i bet u too must have seen barfi....:p
Basu Sep 24, 2012 07:54pm
Pakistani films like Khuda ke liye and Firaaq got a lot of coverage in Indian media. Pakistani artists like strings, atif aslam, rahat, ghulam ali, work extensively in India. Pakistani cricketers like Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja, Aamir Sohail have all ben commentators on Indian sports networks. You are clearly not a very well informed person.
aisha Sep 24, 2012 01:35pm
superb ranbir
Zar Khan Wazir Sep 23, 2012 06:02pm
i'm shaking my head. Although not sure if it's in agreement or disagreement.
Capt C M Khan Sep 24, 2012 08:05am
only one word can describe it DISAPPOINTING.
Uma Sep 24, 2012 08:42am
Agree.... Most cutest, sweetest and mind blowing pics. ..a person having live heart will like it....
malik Sep 24, 2012 06:55am
it is a positive critique note.
Indian Sep 23, 2012 09:53am
super n class example......from Bollywood....
Rakesh Sep 25, 2012 12:57am
Buddy Changez, Pakistani artists are performing all the time in India. Even Pakistsni movie actors are now a constant staple of Bollywood. In fact the flow of I Dian artists into Pak is very very rare.
zoro Sep 25, 2012 04:26am
hehehehehe .... only time will tell ...
anil Sep 24, 2012 06:29pm
hrdly Sep 24, 2012 12:40pm
fo mah side best movie of the year award goes to burfi..muaaah
nandkishor Sep 24, 2012 06:56pm
for ur kind info, khuda ke liye was well talked & seen in india , make good movies,no one can stop u, many paki artists & singers r doing well in india & they also promoted by indi media,if u want to promote ur product, u shud welcome our product, SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, so be fit first....
Mohammad Sheikh Sep 24, 2012 06:57pm
If you are good everybody will appreciate your work like our singers late Mehdi Hassan, Ghullam Ali etc. Our film industry does't produce any move which can compete with Indian movies. They are horrible. We don'y watch our own movies... Be fair .......