There is this scene in The Matrix Revolutions where Neo and Trinity are flying towards the machine city and are attacked by squid-like machines. Neo tries to destroy them but their number is too huge. He asks Trinity to fly towards the sky. As the ship tears through the permanent dense dark clouds, Trinity sees the sun for the first time in her life, shimmering over the clouds. She says – It’s beautiful – and the look on her face is of peace, as if she is not scared of dying anymore.
Barfi is like that warm sun. It reminds us of that rare feeling which we have forgotten to attach with Bollywood – elation. I will not put any spoilers in this post because like wine, this movie has to be smelled and savored. Like wine placed in your mouth, it has to be placed in your thoughts and mulled over.
It is a story of a deaf and dumb boy who was named Murphy by his mother but it came out distorted from his own mouth, so Barfi it was. He is a strange boy who cuts electric polls to test friendship, who eat chocolates from the hand of a kid sitting in a train in Darjeeling while he cycles holding a window pane of the bogie, who throws his shoe in the air to search for Jhilmil, who dances without knowing what music is, who propose to Shruti and reverses the arms of the clock to make her forget everything. Shruti comes in his life with her own baggage of apprehensions and to make matters worse, borrows a few from her mother. She ends up folding pictures and imagining her present. Jhilmil is autistic and circumstances lead her to spend a few months with Barfi, creating a bond that lasts beyond their disadvantages.
The movie is a case of cinematic brilliance. Every frame is like poetry and they melt seamlessly into each other. Whether it is the toy train in Darjeeling which is a character in itself or the upside down Howrah Bridge or the fireflies caged in a soap balloon or the game of reflecting sunlight from a mirror or the Chhau dance which makes Jhilmil jump with joy, every scene is a well thought out treat to watch.
What differentiates this movie from the crap we get nowadays is that the humor is not over the top but derived from everyday situations of the characters. There are scenes like Barfi wearing a Chhau dance mask and pulling a rickshaw with Jhilmil in it which will make you laugh. It is the simplicity which touches you in the end. You will be relieved that you still have the ability to smile and shake your head on humor so grounded.
Ranbir and Priyanka hardly have any dialogues in the whole movie but you never feel the absence of words. Both of them are a treat to watch, especially Priyanka. It is an achievement when the actors make you forget that you are watching a movie, when you forget the baggage which comes with stars. Ileana D’cruz, who plays Shruti is surprisingly poised and holds her ground. Saurabh Shukla as the police officer who has a love-hate relationship with Barfi is hilarious and raised quite a few laughs. I wish Barfi’s affinity towards his father was explored in more details.
The movie could have fallen flat because of the absence of dialogues but the mesmerizing background score holds the script together and so does the music by Pritam. Although the movie falters a bit after the interval but comes on track soon afterwards.
After watching Agent Vinod, Ek That Tiger and Raaz 3, this movie was godsend. This has been a sunny year for Bollywood with sensible movies like Paan Singh Tomar, Kahani, Vicky Donor and Barfi releasing in quick succession. Let us hope that better sense prevails and we see more quality movies this year and also that the numerous awards give recognition to talent rather than crappy money-minded cinema.
Thank you Anurag Basu for all the goosebumps and making me believe that Bollywood has not lost the knack.
Go and relish this masterpiece. It comes once in a blue moon.