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.

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