Director Anurag Basu (Life in a.. metro, Gangster) returns after Kites, an ambitious film that didn’t work due to it’s excess usage of Spanish. His latest, Barfi starring Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D’Cruz, is a cheerfully unconventional film.
Story: The film is about Murphy (Ranbir), who is lovingly called Barfi. He falls in love at first sight with Shruthi (Ileana D’Cruz) and expresses his feelings, even though he cannot hear or speak. Shurthi is engaged to her college sweetheart, but soon shares a warm friendship with Barfi that slowly turns into love. Their cute love story is cut short, when Shruthi’s mother convinces her to marry the man she is engaged to, as Barfi is deaf and mute.
The film has a second love angle between Barfi and Jhilmil (Priyanka), who is autistic. While her parents find it difficult to handle her, she gets along well with Barfi.
What works for Barfi
- The performances: For a film with very few dialogues, Barfi relies almost entirely on it’s actors. Ranbir Kapoor is absolutely brilliant. He slips into the skin of his character and brings it to life – all without a single dialogue. His charisma, smile, facial expressions work big time. Undoubtedly one of the best performances of the year so far. As for Priyanka, in one of the toughest roles of her career, she delivers a stellar performance. Never for a second do you realize it’s her – a huge compliment for any actor. Ileana D’Cruz makes a confident debut, apart from her crooked teeth she looks lovely on-screen. Ranbir’s mannerisms deserves a special mention here – everything from the way he combs his hair, carries his weird hairstyle and even the way he rides his cycle make for a fun watch.
- The fantastic moments: Again, for a silent film, Barfi has some genuinely funny and heart-warming moments that ensures the first half is high on entertainment value. Watch out for the scenes, where Ranbir tries to woo Ileana, his antics make you instantly fall in love with his character. And also the innocent moments between Ranbir and Priyanka in the second. Well written, skilfully directed and brilliantly performed.
- Almost everything else: The background score is top-notch and so is the cinematography. Darjeeling has been beautifully captured on-screen. Pritam’s melodious music goes well with the film.
What doesn’t work
- The last 20-30 minutes: A simple love story is made way too complicated in the end as the story suddenly has everything in it - murder, kidnapping, love-triangle, flashbacks, confusion.. you name it. The film is far from realistic, yet, the cinematic liberties that Basu has taken in the second half, to include the various twists and turns, are a little too hard to digest.
- Slow paced: It’s a film that needs to be watched with a bit of patience.
Audience reaction: During intermission, the film got a stand-ovation. Yes, the first half was that good. Towards the end of the film though, quite a few people were seen leaving even before the credits rolled.
Overall, Barfi has a fabulously entertaining first half, with standout performances by the lead stars. Do watch it, preferably in theatre.
Box office: Has opened to a fantastic response at multiplexes. With strong word-of-mouth, Barfi should put up some big numbers in the first week.