Directed By: Anurag Basu
When I first saw the trailer for Barfi! I thought two things:
- Ooh! Ranbir in various guises of facial hair
- This is either going to be incredibly awesome or incredibly terrible
It has been a week now since I sat through the film and I still can’t think of anything objective to say about it except: “Eh.”
Firstly, I would like to praise Barfi! for being casually “different”. It’s filmi, it’s a love triangle, it’s light hearted and predictable but at least this time around the characters (well, at least the leading male) have some scope and background.
Not having anything objectionable to say was a robust lie.
I wasn’t so captivated by Barfi! madness that I can wax laudatory about the film. It is a very pretty film to look at but is hindered by its disjunct storytelling, glacial pacing, unlikable characters and eye roll-inducing plagiarism.
Ranbir Kapoor, as he is wont to do, does well developing his repertoire by playing non-conventional characters and shines in the spotlight handed to him in this film; however, Priyanka Chopra manages to steal his thunder on a handful of occasions. Ileana D’Cruz is ineffectually compelling and genuinely snooze-worthy.
It’s true that D’Cruz’s character is responsible for almost 80% of my dissatisfaction for this film. She’s boorish, selfish and completely unlikable. After her initial participation in the plot had finished I was loath to see her return later on in the film. She had done her part and bringing her back served only as a pedantic and self-wallowing heaviness that slowed and cheapened the film. I’m all for a character having a redeeming moment—but that wasn’t her purpose. She was never redeemed; she continued to get gross.
Ranbir Kapoor might be a pet-love of mine but I wasn’t lying when I assessed the film in summary by this Tweet. Sure he was playing a different type a role but it didn’t call for anything but hamming at the camera. Priyanka Chopra’s autistic Jhilmil is far more nuanced, engaging and endearing; she deserves any and all praise that can be sent her way for the performance.
The plot for Barfi! suffers from over meddling. Had it been a cut and dry romance with a sprinkling of abduction and a glimpse of love triangle it would have been bearable. To continually kidnap the same character over and over again muddles the plot and confuses the viewer—especially with the rather awkward (and unexplained) faux-documentary, time jumping story line the film chooses to employ. Due to incongruent timelines and styles the movie suffers by feeling lurchy, confused and incredibly drawn-out. It’s never a good sign when, at interval, you groan to your friend “I thought it was OVER!”
Much praise has been shouted about Barfi!’s soundtrack. I’ll allow that it is different enough from what is currently being cycled on Saavn.com’s Weekly Top 15 but it’s also lyrically awkward, poorly composed and loses all of its listen-ability as soon as you see it pictureized on screen. Although I do think they did well to keep it as “background music”. Pritam and his Emo-Band playing between scenes was effective as comedic relief, though in something hawked as comedic, is a device that should not be necessary to elicit laughs.
There has been enough time and enough voices to pick apart all the blatant plagiarism in Barfi!. While I can understand allusions to other films outright scene stealing on this level is cheap. It also puts a weird taste in my mouth considering the film is India’s Oscar entry; though, let’s face it… I can submit my video blogs for the Oscars, but it doesn’t mean the Academy will watch them.
Disappointment is the initial and lingering emotion for Barfi!. I wanted it to be so much better than it was, and I truly believe that the potential was there but squandered by trying to make it something it was never going to be: a full on filmi Bollywood.