Barfi!


Of rainy afternoons, chai, fireflies & soap bubbles…

Pic source: Wikipedia

He loves her… she loves him too but is confused. She is practical, he is not. She cannot help but calculate; he doesn’t know that math… His love is in abundance and can only be cherished by someone who loves without thinking. Love, heartbreak, loss and a chance to win love back… That’s writer-director, Anurag Basu’s Barfi for you – it is beautiful, it is feel-good and thankfully devoid of any ‘screaming for sympathy’ antics despite differently-abled protagonists.

Barfi is a heart-warming film about a deaf and mute young man called Murphy aka Barfi, played by Ranbir Kapoor. His life may be without any sound but is not dark; he lives with his father who is a chauffeur in Darjeeling. He is mischievous and is aware of his good looks and charm, which he uses to impress the new girl in town – Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz). Then there is Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra), the autistic grand-child of a rich businessman; she loves origami, dislikes getting her footwear soiled and is friends with their chauffeur’s son.

It is an unlikely love triangle that makes you sad one minute and smile the next. Ranbir once again delivers a brilliant performance, which exudes Chaplinesque charm and sincerity that we are used to seeing in him. I cannot think of another Indian actor who could have played Barfi and played better than him. Priyanka maintains restraint and communicates effectively what goes in Jhilmil’s mind through her expressions. Like Barfi, she also has little or no dialogue but you feel all that she does… kudos to the director for treating autism sensitively and not going over the top. This is also Priyanka’s best performance till date, right next to her character, Sweety in Kaminey. Ileana looks great in the second half and has some brilliant scenes… her dilemma is portrayed beautifully by the director, accompanied by a lovely track, ‘Phir Le Aaya  Dil…’ at one point in the film. She seems awkward in the first half of the film and with Ranbir shining bright, she looks a bit dull; but all that goes away as the film progresses.

Basu creates a special mood with the film that takes you back in time when life was simpler, childhood meant chasing fireflies and playing with soap bubbles. Darjeeling looks breathtakingly beautiful through the lens of cinematographer, Ravi Varman and production designer, Rajat Poddar adds the details to re-create the delightful 70s. Like its setting, the film moves at a leisurely pace, which is perfect; however a little bit of pruning in the second half could have helped (editing – Akiv Ali). Music by Pritam is first rate and his choice of singers is brilliant – from the fabulous versions of ‘Phir Le Aaya Dil’ by Arijit Singh and Rekha Bhardwaj to Papon’sKyon’ and ‘Ala Barfi’ by Mohit Chauhan and another version by Swanand Kirkire (also the lyricist). The soundtrack not only goes wonderfully with the film but is a perfect accompaniment to spend a rain drenched afternoon, reading a book and sipping tea.

If I have to criticize Barfi, then I will blame the length a bit and the criss-cross narrative that complicates things unnecessarily. But all that can be easily ignored as this Barfi has just about right sweetness… So, watch the film and get hold of the music!

Celebrating the Duds

 

The worst of Bollywood in 2010

Pic: Tees Maar Khan

Every year Bollywood churns out hundreds of movies and hundreds of them flop; only a handful of them get acceptance and are lauded by the viewers, and even fewer by the critics. Sometimes even the bad ones work at the box-office and nobody has any explanation for that, except maybe Sajid Khan as he manages to do that every time with his films (Heyy Babyy, Housefull). While the good ones will get felicitated at the multiple award ceremonies (the eternal optimist in me still believes in them a little bit); the bad ones are forgotten except by the financier or the distributor. This article is dedicated to the worst of Bollywood in 2010. Nobody really wants to make bad films or do bad work but maybe the filmmakers and actors learn something from these disasters.

Declaration: This column is the author’s expression of the pains he suffered by watching poorly made films, badly enacted scenes and other forms of torture deployed by the Bollywood-wallahs this year. The author payed through his nose to watch these films at expensive multiplexes and thinks that it is his right to give back. Should you disagree, please read no further; if you agree, do share your views on the worst of Bollywood in 2010.

RGV Ki Aag Memorial Award for the Worst Film: and the nominees based on the author’s personal views and a quick and dirty survey, are:

  • Anees Bazmee’s No Problem – Because the audience cannot be ‘Welcomed’ in ‘No Entry’ again and again
  • Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khan – Because Khan Khan hota hai aur Kumar Kumar
  • Mani Ratnam’s Raavan – Because we had great expectations, Sir
  • Anurag Basu’s Kites – Because the controversy around the lead pair was more interesting than the film itself
  • Leena Yadav’s Teen Patti – Because you shouldn’t try to make desi ‘21’
  • Ken Ghosh’s Chance Pe Dance – Because the dancing was so bad
  • Sajid Khan’s Housefull – Because in reality Mr. Khan it is NOT your Titanic and you can NEVER make Avatar (Sajid Khan had compared Housefull to Titanic and promised Avatar on Komal Nahta’s show on ETC Channel)
  • Priyadarshan’s Aakrosh – Because if you can’t get it right then should leave Prakash Jha to make such cinema

And the award goes to Farah Khan for Tees Maar Khan. Recognition for ‘borrowing’ the story-line of an old, Italian flick (After the Fox, 1966) and ruining it with jokes that are not funny and scenes that are just randomly put together. However, I must mention the only good thing in the film – Katrina’s item song, ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’.

Click here to read full post that originally appeared on nowrunning.com

 

Kites

  

A mish-mash tribute to Hrithik

 

Kites; Pic: Filmkraft, Source: Wikipedia

 

Indian critics have ripped it apart, while American critics have been kind to the film… Hrithik Roshan’s much hyped crossover flick, Kites fails to soar but is it really that bad? I don’t think so. It certainly is not a good film but is also a victim of too much hype and extremely high expectations. Filmmakers should really be careful about marketing their films; too much or too little does not work… coming back to the film, Kites is a tribute to Hrithik Roshan, his physique, his dancing, his green eyes and even his singing, which by the way is not that great. It may work well for the actor as a PR exercise in Hollywood as his international looks have been fully exploited here. The film’s leading lady, the much talked about Mexican actress, Barbara Mori also manages to get some screen space alongside Junior Roshan. She is undoubtedly hot and manages to hold your attention.

Kites is actually a brave attempt by director, Anurag Basu and writer-producer, Rakesh Roshan; while they have tried to reach out to the global audience, they have alienated a large chunk of Hindi speaking viewers as over 60 percent of the film is in English or Spanish and there are no Hindi subtitles. The film tries to offer a bit of everything… romance, action, comedy, dancing but does not manage to excel in anything. The promos said ‘passion knows no language’, and how I expected the film to live up to that. Stealing shy glances and a few kisses here and there do not define passion. Passion is what Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem displayed in Vicky Christina Barcelona or Jonathan Rhys Myers and Scarlett Johansson shared in Matchpoint, both Woody Allen films. Talking of Matchpoint, Kites shares a similarity in the plot where two gold diggers attach themselves to rich siblings but end up falling for each other. Another film with striking similarities is Thelma & Louise; Kites heavily borrows its second half from this Ridley Scott classic. Having said that, Kites lacks the edge and the chutzpah of both these films.  

I have a major problem with the dialogue in the film as well; who in this world talks like this: “Don’t leave me my love… stay with me my love”, are we thinking of modern Romeo & Juliet here and that too in Vegas! The lead pair looks stunning in the film thanks to their natural good looks and breathtaking cinematography by Ayananka Bose. However, they are shabbily dressed for most part, which is unpardonable in a film that is supposed to be high on the style quotient (fashion director – Suneet Varma with additional styling by Anaita Shroff Adajania for Hrithik). The supporting cast seems straight out of a Feroz Khan film in the eighties (Kabir Bedi, Nick Brown)… fake accents and names like Tony and Bob (what breed, I wanted to ask). Kangana Ranaut hardly has a role and does not get to say ‘You Besterd’ even once.

Coming to the dancing. Hrithik plays a dance instructor and one expected some hot moves in this supposedly ‘passion’ driven film. Here also, we do not get much; there is a dance sequence with Hrithik and Kangana but there are so many cuts in the shots that you can’t follow an impressive move completely (they could’ve taken some inspiration from Dirty Dancing as well). Rajesh Roshan’s music also disappoints and I wish there was a lot of fusion of Spanish and Indian sounds. Anyways, once again Bollywood teaches us a lesson, leave your expectations out of the cinema hall.  

Overall, Kites is a below average film but do watch it if you’re a Hrithik fan.

My rating: ** two stars on five

– Shrey Khetarpal