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!

Paa

A rare film about a rare child…

 

How do you define a good film? For me, it is the way the film involves you, engages you and impacts you; if it is a comedy, does it make you laugh non-stop or if it is an emotional film, does it move you? Rarely a film completely lives up to the promise made through its promotion / publicity machinery. Paa lives up to the promise but with a slight difference; it was promoted as a very rare father-son / son-father story but what shines through is the relationship between Auro, a 12-year old child suffering from a rare genetic disorder called Progeria and his mother, Vidya. You connect with Auro, the moment he makes his first appearance and from that point onwards you laugh with him and cry for him.

Amitabh Bachchan is re-discovered in this film as Auro, not only because he has acted extremely well but also because you do not notice him in the film. There is no Amitabh Bachchan in the film but only Auro, who is a happy child despite his medical condition because of which his body has aged to that of an 80-year old. His mother, Vidya (played superbly by Vidya Balan) is extremely proud of her son and is not embarrassed or adversely affected by his situation; in fact she calls him ‘lucky’ in one scene. Abhishek Bachchan as Amol Arte, a young conscientious politician, delivers an extremely confident and restrained performance. His scenes with his son, Auro as well as his father (played by Paresh Rawal) are excellent. Performance wise, the film belongs to Auro and another actor who is a real surprise package – Arundhati Nag, who plays ‘Bum’, Auro’s maternal grand-mother and friend. She has an extremely strong character and proves that screen time has nothing to do with the impact made.

Despite the serious subject matter, writer-director, R. Balki (Cheeni Kum) has given the film a very light feel without losing the grip on the emotions. However, there is too much focus on Abhishek Bachchan’s political endeavours that move away from the main plot. Ilaiyaraja’s music is outstanding and completely involves you with what is happening on screen, especially the violin theme. ‘Halke Se Bole’ and ‘Hichki Hichki’ are two wonderful numbers in the film and credit also goes to the lyricist, Swanand Kirkire. Talking about the technicians, I cannot miss out the prosthetic make-up team that helped bring the character of Auro to screen as well as the brilliant cinematography by P. C. Sriram.

After Taare Zameen Par, Paa is a film that manages to connect the audience so well with the protagonist. In a nutshell, it is a beautiful film that deserves to be watched.

My Rating: * * * * Four stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal