With people raving about Ranbir Kapoor’s latest movie –Barfi!, it was inevitable that we succumb to the desire of watching it on the big screen. So hubby and I booked our tickets at a nearby multiplex (at an exorbitant rate as usual) and reached there at the designated time. The theatre hall was pretty much packed – no surprises there. The film started on a pleasant note – a little ditty proclaiming the start of the movie and highlighting the dos and don’ts for the patrons (sample this: ‘apne mobile aur bacche off rakhiye’) The name of the film flashed onto the screen and instantly viewers were transported to the Calcutta of 1978 where a hilarious Chaplin-esque chase ensued, replete with a catchy background score.
As the film progressed we found ourselves drawn into the madcap world of the protagonist Barfi – Ranbir Kapoor in yet another mesmerizing avatar. A deaf and mute ‘hero’ was, till date, probably unthinkable but the actor essayed the role with such élan that the viewer actually forgot about his disability. Indeed the best part of the movie was that it did not seek sympathy from the viewer by playing the disability card. For an actor, to emote only through body language, gestures and facial expressions can be no easy task and Ranbir proved he is rightfully hailed as one of the finest actors of his generation. One does not miss the dialogues – in fact at places where dialogues are used to provide a narrative, the film actually loses some of its sheen. Probably that is why I could not completely relate to the character played by one of the female protagonists – Ileana D’Cruz. She was the narrator and Barfi’s first love interest. Her character remained out of sync with an otherwise excellent film and maybe part of it was because her love for Barfi! was never allowed to develop on-screen. At the end of it I was left wondering if she actually was in love with Barfi or did she just love Barfi because with him she had an identity of her own. Contrasting with the other love story – that of Barfi and an autistic girl, called Jhilmil played by Priyanka Chopra – this one paled into insignificance in a way I don’t think it was meant to.
And Priyanka Chopra! I never liked her work but in this movie she left me awe-struck. Not going into the debate of whether autism was portrayed accurately or not, I have to say Priyanka Chopra gave the performance of a lifetime. It was the interaction between Barfi and Jhilmil that was enthralling in its innocence – an interaction sans any dialogue and bereft of any physical avowals of love. At some points the parallel plot lines seemed superfluous – I wish the director Anurag Basu had hit upon a better way to move the story ahead. However the movie belongs to Barfi and Jhilmil and that said, Mr. Basu, please take a bow for bringing to us such a beautiful love story. I completely forgive you for wasting my hard earned money on a debacle called Kites!