Barfi

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.

[images from 1,2, 3]

51 comments on “Barfi

  1. What a lovely post to wake up to :) I made a cup of tea and sat down to first check my mail and then approve comments, but this review was in the mail box – and wow, loved it – will watch the movie, if possible today, only because I loved this review so much.
    And was glad to note I have seen Paan Singh Tomar, Kahani, Vicky Donor and another movie I quite liked Bittoo Boss.

  2. I have been hearing good things about the movie, and all the reviews I’ve read so far are good. I am planning to watch it soon. Thanks for such a wonderful review! I think Ranbir is a really good actor, natural and charming just like his parents. And, there are times when I watch a movie and wonder why these talented actors don’t get better scripts and better roles. I felt the same when I watched Shahrukh in Chak de! Have you seen Gangs of Wasseypur? It is classic too, though violent, edgy and very typically small town.

    • Rachna,
      We have a lot of good actors. Most of the time our script writers and directors let them down. We have the brains to make movies which can be acclaimed internationally but we have to come out of the 100-crore mentality for that.
      I have heard good reviews of Gangs of Wasseypur and I will be watching it soon.

  3. I watched it too.. :) And yeah the movie was beautiful so was your review. You have managed to write about all the beautiful things in the movie.

    The tram and the Howrah bridge were no less that characters in the movie. I am pleasantly surprised by Priyanka’s acting skills! Hope there are more such movies in the future!

  4. Even I wanted to review it yesterday, but I was falling short of words! You’ve reviewed it beautifully here.

    It’s a brilliant film. I thought the best part of the film was you don’t feel sorry for the handicap. Instead you fall in love with them. Barfi reminded me that we are all imperfect and life is not always fair, but we need to cherish the smaller moments and keep smiling.

    • Thanks Nisha.
      There was so much more to write but then I did not want to put spoilers in the post.
      I agree. The handicap was never shown as a disadvantage.

  5. I watched the movie today & am totally in awe with it. Sheer brilliance! I found some similar treatments from Life In A Metro, another briliant movie by Anurag Bose. I enjoyed each & every moment and didn’t really feel that there was any unnecessary or loose moment. Your review is really good & totally second you on the background score point.

  6. I am so watching it :) Thank you for a lovely review!
    I have watched the rest except Vicky Donor though K watched it and reco-ed it as well.
    Have you watched Gangs of Wasseypur? It does run high on coarse language that I failed to understand (but the sub-titles were quite lengthy) but there was something I liked about it. It is not happy or warm but I just felt it was well made :) There are 2 parts. I have watched the first one only.

  7. A wonderful masterpiece. Loved the songs as much as the interaction between each of the characters.

    Would you believe, in the theatre, almost everyone was wiping away their tears in one of the scenes :)

  8. I have not read even a word of this post.I directly jumped to the comment section because I am yet to watch the movie.I refrained myself from reading any reviews but I did scrolled down to the bottom of the reviews to see the smiling 4/4.5 stars.I am going for the movie tomorrow and will read the post then..done?? :D

    Even for Kahaani I did the same and watching a movie knowing nothing about it is an awesome feeling.Now waiting for the release of English Vinglish :)

      • yes!! I watched Barfi last night..
        I couldn’t believe that I was watching a movie.I didn’t want the movie to end.The comedy scenes just awesome.Remember the scene where the police inspector pees and people appears from the bush?He will take a bow after hopping a few steps to his left..OMG!!I literally jumped out of my seat by laughing :D

        • There were so many such scenes. I liked the one in which Jhilmil goes hurrr hurrr when a bullock cart passes by while poor Barfi is pulling her cart. And I just loved the end, when they are jumping with the dancers.
          I really want to see the movie once more. :)

      • yes!!I watched Barfi last night.I didn’t want the movie to end at all.I was happy watching Ranbir and Priyanka.Comedy was awesome and fresh.At certain scenes I even jumped out of the seat and laughed.I would say the movie is incomparable,like you said it’s beyond rating.
        NB : I didn’t cry :P

  9. You have begun the review with a simile and a metaphor. The simile took the breath out of me and the metaphor put it back! Yes, I loved the review and I am going to love the movie more.

  10. I saw Barfi last week and loved it immensely! A rib-tickling film, so very well made! The humour, as you rightly pointed out, was not at all over the top and that made the film such a breeze to watch! We had a few 6 year olds in our group and they enjoyed the film too just as much.

    Enjoyed reading your take on the movie thoroughly!

  11. Finally watched it!! Yaay for me! I thought it dragged a bit towards the end. Maybe I am biased against Priyanka Chopra but I couldnt see past Ranbir on screen. Do you think he is gonna be the Jack Nicholson of Bollywood?

  12. Wow, you make it sound like such a beautiful and must-watch movie. I wanted to watch Barfi too, but am so out of touch with the movie world that I didn’t know when it came and went. I will try to somehow get hold of a CD so that I can see it. :)

  13. What is your take on all the chaos around Barfi not a deserving movie to go for Oscars because of some plagiarized scenes? My take is, I really don’t mind even if some scenes are copied. There is more to Barfi than the copied scenes. It is still very much close to me & still maintain that it is magic!

    • I think Vicky Donor stood a better chance at Oscars because it was a unique concept. Barfi will run into trouble the moment they see all the copied scenes.
      I think all the scenes I wrote about in the post were the ones which touched me and thankfully none of them were the copied ones. So yes, I was a bit disappointed that some scenes were copied but lets not belittle the rest of the movie because of that. It was a beautiful movie with some superb acting and story.

      • Totally second you. Even Paan Singh Tomar stood a chance. Oscars or no Oscars, I love the film. Yes, there are other scenes which are the original ones which took my one. Like the Chhau dance (which you’ve mentioned). I’m contemplating of having a Chhau dance session in my marriage! Another scene I loved was the one where Jhilmil sees Shruti’s bare waist, secretly looks at her’s and wears sari the next day. There are many more which aren’t copied.

        • Yes, I agree. PST and Vicky Donor could have been in the final 5 at least.
          And I really hate all those videos which are coming up on Youtube which show all the movies from which scenes are copied in Barfi. We really love running down things.

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