Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Movie Review: Barfi! (Hindi)

Just yesterday evening I caught the screening of Anurag Basu's 'Barfi!', a movie I would label a full blown entertainer rather than a romcom.

Plot Synopsis
This movie is about Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor), a speech and hearing impaired but sprightly young man and the important relationships he forms during his life. It is a tale of love, friendship, heartache, self-discovery and hope. The movie shifts between different timelines in the main protagonist's life with a change in scene from the lush mountainous landscape of Darjeeling to the vibrant, chaotic streets of Kolkata. Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor), whose real name is Murphy (he is called Barfi because that is how he sounds his name out) is deaf & dumb and lives in Darjeeling with his doting father. He is happy and carefree and lives a very  simple life charming the locals with his daily antics. Enter the lovely, doe-eyed Shruthi Gosh (Ileana D'Cruz), who has come to Darjeeling for a short stint with her parents. Smitten by the new arrival, Barfi makes his move (or rather, moves!) and with a simmering chemistry between the two, love begins to bloom. But alas! the Bong beauty doesn't have the courage to take her relationship with Barfi to the next level and ends up breaking his heart to go live a mundane existence in Kolkata as Mrs. Sengupta. At this juncture, enter Jhilmil Chatterjee (Priyanka Chopra), an autistic girl and Barfi's childhood friend who owing to her disorder has been shunned by her wealthy family and has lived most of her life cared by strangers. There develops this strange yet strangely uncomplicated relationship between a deaf & dumb boy and an autistic girl. Throw in a few mystery elements courtesy the bumbling local inspector (Saurabh Shukla) and the return of the 'ex' and you have the rest of this saccharine saga :)

My thoughts...
After I exited the movie theater with a warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart, there were a hundred thoughts zooming through my head. For starters, I was trying very hard to figure out if I thought this movie was good or if it was beyond that. You know what? I still haven't been able to make up my mind! I was thoroughly entertained (no doubts about that whatsoever) but I'm not sure this movie left a deep impact on me. I probably wouldn't list it among the top Hindi movies that I've watched to date. To be fair, although this movie lacks an extraordinary story, it does have extraordinary characters. As a refreshing change, it doesn't tackle the sensitive issue of handicap or disability, rather it focuses on human relationships in the face of prejudice and the trappings of our materialistic and superficial society. There are plenty of heartwarming moments from start to end (one of my favorites being Barfi's reaction to a man ogling at Jhilmil) but there are places when the movie falters especially in the second half. The shuttling back and forth narrative often become befuddling and the whole 'mystery' element is not much of a mystery and in my opinion, weakens the premise.

The performance of the lead actors are praiseworthy. In a movie, where there is very little talking, they manage to convey a kaleidoscope of emotions just through their facial expressions and body language. Ranbir Kapoor with this movie, will go from being 'the next big thing' in Bollywood to 'the current big thing'! He has proved his mettle as an actor with a wide range of roles and movie genres. He is goofy, irresistibly charming and most importantly, natural in this performance. Ileana D'Cruz is beautiful and fits into her role like a glove. In the course of the movie, she goes through a series of emotions such as love, self-doubt, shame, guilt, jealousy and liberation and she embodies them effectively with her expressive eyes. Priyanka Chopra has had to let herself go completely in this movie and that just shows how much trust she has shown in the director. In ridiculous clothes, bad hair, no make up and very little self-awareness of her body, her interpretation of the character of Jhilmil is admirable. From whatever little I have read and understood about the signs of autism - impaired social and communication skills, avoiding eye contact, disliking physical touch, stereotypy, compulsive behavior such as stacking objects, focusing intently on certain things and not showing much emotional attachment to people, she is wonderfully convincing and doesn't make the cardinal sin of an over the top portrayal of a medical disorder. In my opinion, as a former Miss World, to play second fiddle to another actress relying solely on acting prowess without the aid of looks/costumes/glamor is gutsy and commendable. The supporting cast is good, particularly Saurabh Shukla (he reminded me of Mr. Goon from the Five Find-Outers!) who never ceases to bring in the chuckles. The music by Pritam is wonderful and soulful especially the background score. It heightens the whole mood of the film. The cinematography.....what can I say....I've already started making plans of visiting Darjeeling the next time I'm in India!

Catch Barfi!.....in this case, silence truly is golden!

I would give this movie 3.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. Good review... Thanks for writing... the movie seems promising...

  2. watched it too. liked d movie n loved ranbir!! :) the soul of the movie is beautiful although it is a lil boring esp in the 2nd half, but i wud still give it 4/5. compared to most of the crap churned out by d hindi film industry, this definitely is worth watching.


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