BARFI! movie review: Magical!

The Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D’Cruz starrer is a cinematic joyride

Anurag Basu’s Barfi! is the story of Murphy aka Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) – a carefree guy – often running into trouble with the police and bringing a smile to everyone’s face. That he is hearing and speech impaired is only incidental. Yes, it is an integral part of the story, but that’s not what it’s about! Set in Darjeeling in the ’70s, the film is essentially about Barfi’s relationship with the two women in his life – Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz) and Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra). Shruti falls to parental and societal pressure to marry a ‘normal’ man, but cannot come to terms with the fact that she is still in love with Barfi. Jhilmil, on the other hand, trusts Barfi blindly. One dramatic event, puts Barfi in a tough situation, and dynamics change. Through a series of events all three characters discover what love really is. The movie unfolds through the eyes of the various characters whose life has been touched by Barfi, and there is enough mystery in the story to keep you hooked.

The strength of the film is the nonlinear narration, raising your anticipation levels and making you curious about how the story is going to unfold. Barfi! starts off rather slowly, but 15 minutes into the film and the leisurely pace of storytelling becomes pleasurable. The entry of Jhilmil adds a new dimension to the story, and the plot begins to pick up.

Most of the dialogues come in the form of narration, but the scenes are so beautifully crafted that you don’t really miss the dialogues at all. This is where Pritam Chakraborty’s music plays a big role. It is soothing and touching, and takes the screenplay to a new level. Anurag Basu has put his heart and soul into the film, and why it all works is because he keeps it light. The Chaplinesque humour is refreshing, and the situational comedy is adorable and entertaining. Basu just wants you to feel happiness! And he proves that he is a good storyteller. It’s a big comeback from him, after facing huge criticism for his last film Kites. Only one complain: the frequent appearance of three musicians. It’s an artistic device (which he has used previously in Life In A Metro), yes, but doesn’t add anything to the story or to the effect of the movie. Actually, there is one more. Wish all the actors, including the supporting cast, looked more authentic in their aged avatars.

The bond between Ranbir and Priyanka is built beautifully. Just one scene establishes what they share – no explanations required. Ranbir flinging his shoe in front of Priyanka’s window, dozing off on his daddy’s chest when upset, creating water bubbles that envelope a fire spark, Ranbir and Priyanka shining a glass mirror at each other and holding each other’s little finger as they fall asleep – sheer beauty! Cinematography by Ravi Varman makes the film look like a series of gorgeous paintings.

To top everything that’s already going for the film are fine and mature performances by Ranbir and Priyanka. With every expression and every action, Ranbir proves he is a master at bringing emotions alive on screen. And very few stars can carry off this kind of physical comedy. You don’t feel sympathy for him, you just fall in love with his character. It’s the ease with which he does it that makes him so real. He doesn’t need dialogues to act! There is not one dull moment when he is in the frame. His performance is simply magical!

The love story between Ranbir and Priyanka is all about moments. It’s one of the most loveable and innocent romances of our times. Priyanka’s character loves to watch the world upside down, hates being touched and gets excited when she hears music. She loves looking through a tiny crystal ball gifted by her grandfather and wears bloomers.

Jhilmil is created through her reactions to her surroundings – without much ado. Kudos to Basu for not having to explain why Jhilmil is the way she is! The camera hovers over Priyanka’s face (especially eyes), bringing her character to life. It’s that wonder in her eyes that makes Priyanka’s performance special. She has very few scenes in the first half, and her role comes to life only in second part of the film. Plus she has just a few dialogues through the film! It is amazing how much impact she makes in such a small role (in terms of its length). She creates magic too (just like Ranbir) – with her understated and subtle portrayal of an autistic girl. This is undoubtedly one of the best performances of her career.

Ileana makes a good impression as the rich Bengali girl torn between love and societal pressures. She proves that she is a mature performer and that the camera loves her. The supporting cast that includes Rupa Ganguly and Saurabh Shukla do a good job too.

Watch Barfi!, feel it and soak it because it is pure cinematic joy. And above all its magical!

Rating: 4/5

* Poor – Avoid!

** Average – Give it a shot if you are desperate!

*** Good – One time watch!

**** Very good – Must watch!

***** Excellent – Don’t miss!