Barfi: Sweet & Sour Bollywood Broth

Charm gets universal acclaim and so does its owner. But the acclaim comes at a great price.

What I found in Anurag Basu’s Barfi is an empathetic tale of a Darjeeling boy whose life is full of exclamations.  Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor), a speechless guy, is endowed with the gift of gab (through expressions) and he is convincingly charismatic. Sharp turns, narrow escapes, night-time adventures, and stolen romance were his close buddies.

The movie took flight when Shruti (Ileana D’cruz) arrived in Darjeeling and the beautiful hill-station could do nothing but watch Barfi in motion. And when he is in motion there is no stopping him – not even his cycle. Shruti, fell for his racy moves and tireless wooing. Trains, forests, horse, mall road and every single entity had soaked in his flamboyance. Call it destiny or ill-gotten fate, the two lovely souls ended up in a cauldron of despair. Rain, tears and more tears summed up the parting.

Barfi’s sound-proof existence sensed sonata after Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) returned to her mother and resumed neighborly ties with him. Her autistic idiosyncrasies had no takers except Barfi’s comforting presence and his spirited sashaying around life’s troubles. While Jhilmil hated being touched, Barfi detested being alone. Together they created jingle and spoke through mirror reflections. Jhilmil needed a finger to hold for life-time and Barfi was in search of someone who would not leave him even when a tree falls precariously close to them.

Digressions build the subplot in the movie as Barfi resorted to amateurish miscreancy. Money was something he never had, but he was aware of his wealth.  In a turn of events Barfi took to residing in the city of Joy. A joyous beginning in an attic was meant to sustain. Barfi’s Chaplinesque acrobats and laughter-evoking gestures made Jhilmil sparkle.

In Barfi, past was glorious except with a touch of sad rigmaroles. The movie ties present to past making the former look ugly. By showing a life-long union of two differently abled people, the movie took it upon itself to sensitize those who look down on them. Barfi and Jhilmil get the space in the biopic that they deserved. I reckon the director wished to see society making space for such characters who may not speak or be ‘normal’ but they add zing to our lives and leave indelible happiness through their randomness.

Witty script and well thought over tricks went into making Barfi a hearty dish. The music director had his thinking cap on as he touched upon mouth organ, accordion and others to ensure western tenor where needed. Rekha Baradwaj with Phir le aaya dil majboor kya keeje and the juvenile touch in the title song by Mohit Chauhan are few instances where music played a wonderful cameo.

You can’t thank the cinematographer enough for the artistry you find in depicting dusk, night, water bodies, hills and everything that catalyzed dark-and -light game.

Coming back to the story, Barfi puts happiness, sacrifice, loneliness and regret in a string and leaves it to us to separate one from the other. While Shruti couldn’t stay loyal to her feelings, Barfi poured his heart out (not only on plate) in vain. He appeared to be saying “Nazar ki syaahi se likhenge Tujhe hazaar chitthiyaa”. Jhilmil made a choice and she was glad that she did. Shruti was nurturing vacuity and Barfi knew how incomplete he was. But then Kismat ko hai yeh manzoor, kya keeje.


Rainy Evening in Mumbai: The Other Side

Pitter patter of rain is not always Bach or Mozart to your ears. Trust me. When you have slogged for hours and prospects of reaching home is somewhat bleak, you don’t fall back on subtle faculties of brain.

In my case, it was more than pitter patter. It was boisterous downpour. 6:45 in the evening. Three chapatis for lunch must have lost their way in my stomach by that time and new wave of hunger was making inroads. Between the exit of my office and auto stand is a distance of 500 meters. The bigger needles of water made the distance look inter-continental.

I gave up the idea of venturing forth after torturing myself with a series of ‘shall I’ and ‘shall I not’.

You feel like a pauper when you don’t have an umbrella to take rain head on and plunge into struggle.  7:50 pm and neither rain nor panic agreed to budge.

Breaking the fetters of patience, I went ahead and requested the security guy if he could lend me his aged umbrella that was eyeing me for quite some time. The umbrella was lying in a full-bloom position. The guy said a polite no and he had strong reasons (although he uttered them in an apologetic tone). The ‘babu log’ from other offices would ask for the umbrella to reach the parking area from where their cars will escort them. I was convinced even before he finished off with his reasons.

Waiting resumed, this time with a pinch of disgust. Why did rain choose to be so persistent?

I took it upon myself to find as many reasons I can and dig out my mistakes. My mistake number one:  Not thinking it necessary to buy an umbrella, especially when you are being chased by monsoon in Mumbai. Mistake number two:  Not taking colleague’s raincoat despite him being insistent.

Before the third mistake could show its face, two unknown faces turned up.  One gave a stealing look and muttered something to his shorter counterpart. In a quasi-suspense turn of events the shorter guy handed over the umbrella to me and posited, “You can return it to me tomorrow”.  Oh Lord! That moment of gratification came after a long hiatus.

I thanked him and made a move.

Getting an auto on a torrential evening is akin to wishful thinking, but as they say, “aim for the stars and you may reach the sky”, I kept my hopes alive.  Hopping down the street for almost half an hour took me absolutely nowhere. A feeling of a jinxed day was fast advancing.

Destination was still miles away.

If you are a newbie in Mumbai you can trust strangers to bail you out. A man in his 30s was steadily heading in my direction and he readily agreed to my feeble request to be my path finder. Another 20 minutes of brisk walk and he had already injected in me the tidbits of the place.

My impatience was shelved for long but when I felt there is no respite from rain, my replies to his suggestions started getting curt and impolite. Even he could sense that.

His ‘SBI Life Insurance’ umbrella was big enough for his short countenance but he managed it well to prevent water from rolling down to my left flank. He was considerate. I asked him about his bit of story and his impromptu narrative on his journey from Nashik tasted like hot snacks on a rainy day.

It was well past 9 when I could recognize my neighborhood. My companion halted and said he would take leave. His steps were steady and genuine when he left for those shanties. His rubber footwear made a squeaky sound as he hurried away.

Earlier, he had insisted on paying my auto fare and prevailed. He was all praise for his locality and people around him. It was with a sense of pride he narrated how happy he was with his four brothers staying with him and aged father trying to walk with his new crutch.