The quality of ‘Barfi’ is not strained

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven 

Upon the place beneath.

It is twice blest: It blesseth him that maketh and him that see-eth! 

Whether it is lots of noise from incessant violence or characters hamming or trying very hard to be funny – loud movies tire me after a while. My ears have to bear the onslaught of noise every day in maximum city and I am quite happy to not subject them to additional torture in a movie theatre. Unfortunately, the last few Hindi films I watched were in the ‘very loud’ category! Not only did my ears protest, all my senses were fatigued by the time the movies finished. But ‘Barfi’ was a welcome relief – for my senses and my heart.

I do not want to talk too much about the story line of the film; most of you would have watched it by now. Iit starts off in beautiful Darjeeling, moves to Calcutta and takes a brief foray into the verdant green Bengal countryside. I loved the locales; Darjeeling with its little trains, misty mornings and cold evenings; Calcutta with its busy streets, small shops and hand pulled rickshaws and Bengal gearing up for the Durga Puja were all beautifully explored. Needless to say, my Bengali soul was more than charmed. 

While a director’s vision is extremely critical for a film, the actors contribution  possibly remains the longest in the minds of the audience. Ranbir proves yet again, that he is capable of pulling off any role with effortless ease. His Barfi makes you laugh and cry and despair without saying a word. Ileana D’Cruz as Shruti is very appealing. She manages to light up the screen by her sweetness and should stick to underplaying emotions since the only scene where she jarred was the one where she tried to emote too much. The supporting cast is capable and deliver quality performances. Saurabh Shukla as the much troubled policeman who has to chase Barfi all around town and beyond is superb and so is Rupa Ganguly in her small but significant role as Ileana’s mother. 

The surprise package for me was definitely Priyanka Chopra who plays Jhilmil. I had become weary of seeing Priyanka play Priyanka in every movie. Her mannerisms, body language, laughter…all remained the same regardless of whether she was playing a leather skirted New York resident or a chawl dweller in Dongri. Therefore I was keen to see if she would really manage to pull off the role of an autistic girl and am happy to say that she did an exemplary job.

Hindi films are known for exaggerating simple things and it was touching to see how sensitively Anurag Basu has directed the film. Nowhere does Priyanka go over the top in her portrayal of a differently abled girl. Her entire range of emotions from lack of attachment to her parents, to the fear of the unknown, to the gradual awakening of love for Barfi, to possessiveness, to returning to the one familiar ground…..all come out naturally. Ranbir’s transfer of affection from Shruti to Jhilmil is done with minimum fuss and bother. Ileana’s disenchantment with the supposedly perfect life with her educated husband is also brought out subtly with no extra histrionics.

A special mention has to be made of the music in the film. The soundtrack album has 6 songs. The music and background score is by Pritam who has outdone himself as he does with Anurag’s films, and lyrics by the incredible Swanand Kirkire, Ashish Pandit, Neelesh Misra and Sayeed Quadri. The lyrics are so good that they compete with the music for supremacy, quite a rarity nowadays when the most hummable tunes have lyrics like Faltu and Anarkali! My personal favourite is ‘Aashiyan’. I first heard this in the washroom of a multiplex and was so transfixed by the joyousness of the song that I did not exit till it ended, causing my husband some panic!

There has been a huge wave of criticism regarding the film copying scenes from various Hollywood films. I prefer to think of Barfi as a tribute to those films and film makers rather than a copy. The film did cut across various time periods and confuse me a bit at one point, but that is a minor problem. What remained with me after the film was the smile on my face.

The character of Barfi is the embodiment of the best friend cum soul mate we all crave for. The one person who will make us feel like the most special human being on the planet. Who will do anything to make us smile and take away our worries and problems. I hope we all get lucky enough to have a little bit of Barfi in our lives……


Copyright © Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa October 2012

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