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Sweet rush

 
 

Barfi

Rating: 3

September 14, 2012

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ileana D’cruz, Saurabh Shukla, Rupa Ganguly, Akash Khurana

Director: Anurag Basu

That rare film that puts a smile on your face even before a single frame of the story is revealed, Anurag Basu’s Barfi envelopes you like a warm blanket from the moment you settle into your seat. Even as routine acknowledgements appear on a black screen, you’re charmed by the accompanying ditty, Picture shuru, whose chorus instructs you to switch off your phones and submit yourself to the experience that follows.

There’s a lot that’s admirable about Barfi, particularly the simplicity of its characters and their actions. This is a film about inherently decent people faced with tough decisions. There are no villains in this story, only honest people who make wrong choices occasionally.

Ironic then that Basu himself suffers the same affliction… Not content telling a simple story without any fuss, he complicates the narrative with confusing timelines and a needless whodunit subplot. But more on that later.

Spanning forty years in the life of Murphy — or Barfi as he calls himself — a poor chauffeur’s son played by Ranbir Kapoor, the film unfolds in the early 1970s. He’s a happy-go-lucky deaf-mute boy in Darjeeling, forever on the run from a portly cop (Saurabh Shukla) for his petty misdemeanors. Doffing their hats to Chaplin in these comical chases, Basu and his star deliver a range of delightful slapstick moments.

Barfi falls for the delicately pretty Shruti (Ileana D’cruz), whom he woos relentlessly. But, in a scene lifted straight out of The Notebook, Shruti is reminded why their romance can have no happy ending. In a later scene, one of the best in this film, Barfi wordlessly acknowledges the gaping divide between Shruti and himself. Gesturing towards his torn pockets, his ripped shoe, his inability to hear or speak, Ranbir beautifully conveys Barfi’s deep hurt at being rejected. His life finds new meaning when he’s saddled with his childhood friend Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra), an autistic girl belonging to a wealthy local family.

The film works best as a love story, and Basu infuses humor and heart into the relationships between his three leads. There are lots of lovely little gems in Barfi, like those moments in which our hero repeatedly ‘plucks’ his heart out and offers it to Shruti. Or the test of unconditional friendship that Barfi puts his loved ones through, that involves a collapsing streetlight. How can you not break into a smile when Barfi exposes his own leg to a fellow passenger leering at Jhilmil’s bare calves during a truck journey?

Yet these lovely bits are offset by a messy screenplay packed with too many flashbacks, and a long-drawn second half that doesn’t benefit from the Gone Baby Gone-inspired subplot about a botched kidnapping. The tone now shifts abruptly from gentle humor and quirky romance to clunky suspense.

And yet, despite the indulgences, it’s hard to overlook the sheer skill invested in this enterprise, starting with Ravi Varman’s remarkable cinematography. Each frame is lovingly composed, the camera caressing those Darjeeling and Calcutta landscapes with unmistakable affection. Pritam’s music, some of his best work yet, is an assortment of charming melodies that lace the silences in place of dialogues. Basu particularly films the title song, Aala Barfi with startling originality.

Filling out smaller roles with relatively lesser-seen but fine actors like Rupa Ganguly (as Shruti’s mother) and Akash Khurana (as Barfi’s father), Basu draws heartfelt performances from his committed cast. Ileana leaves a lasting impression in her Hindi film debut, conveying both love and pain through those beautiful, expressive eyes. Priyanka escapes the typical pitfalls of playing an autistic character, making Jhilmil a wholly believable girl whom your heart goes out to.

The film, however, belongs to our silent hero, and Ranbir Kapoor owns the part completely. Never turning Barfi into a caricature or a stereotype, Ranbir adds wonderful layers to this seemingly simple fellow, and once again proves why he is his only competition.

Sadly, Basu’s film goes on too long and drags its feet in the end. Barfi had the potential to be great cinema, but as it stands it’s a respectable film that’s still better than a lot else you’re likely to see. I’m going with three out of five for director Anurag Basu’s Barfi. It’s a treat like the mithai it takes its name from. Go on, indulge your sweet tooth.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

96 Responses to “Sweet rush”

  1. navneet says:

    C’mmon Rajeevji, be a sport…4/5 ho jaye on the request of me and all the 60 people here…:-)))))

  2. Ananta says:

    Hi Rajeev,

    The kidnapping plot and a number of other plots such as lip reading, collage of a kidnapping note, and some of the other so called original concepts are lifted out of Korean movie sympathy to mr. Vengeance. I am sure most of the other parts of the movie are lifted from various other movies. Ranbir’s silent acting is heavily copied from charlie chaplin movies. And going by the list, I am sure light post scenes are also straight lift from some world movie. Enjoy the movie but please don’t say it’s original.. Just to remind Anurag’s last movie life in a metro had the story of “apartment” which is in a way good cause it is not portrayed as original.. But putting various pieces from number of movies – it definitely needs creativeity but it is a collage and not a painting – if u get what I am saying here.. So please don’t appreciate it like a master piece painting cause it insults the viewer’s intelligence.

  3. Dipayan says:

    Rajeev, though I was particularly disappointed in a couple of ur previous reviews a few mnths back, but over the past few months I see a consistency in good reviews.
    Excellent review, though I do not agree 100% with u. But utterly disappointed with 3/5 for this, I do not think it deserves any less than 3.5-4 stars. May be u r not a big fan of sweets ;)

  4. TusharA says:

    Review is OK. The ratings/stars NOT fair though.

  5. Gaurav Dewan says:

    Disapppinted with ur rating. Its a flat 4.5/5.

  6. Karishma says:

    Utterly disappointed in this review, expected you, of all people, to see the value in this film.

  7. Sree says:

    A Rating of 3 is Not Fair. It surely deserves a 4. Am sure u would be repending for it now……

  8. Rahul says:

    I agree that movie was a bit lengthy in second half, however, it deserves 4 out of 5. Ranbir is his own competition….agreed! :)

  9. ashim says:

    well a very nice review by u RAJEEV ….. but i would like to give 3.5 out of 5 ….. .5 just to show the respect for the actors ….. the onlything i did not liked was the notebook scene and the PLOT they tried to made which was very obvious i mean was not a BIG suspense ….. now the positive list – its really very hard to make laugh just by actions something bollywood movies which are failing to do even with dialogue form 3-4 years and this laughter was not ordinary like GOLMAAL or other worthless movies as those laughter just sats for those moments and the feeling which i had after seeing barfi stayed for whole night …… RESPECT for everyone associated with it . what i feel like saying i s- BOLLYWOOD first made a few good movies and a LOT OF SHI*T ….. then came BARFI to balance eveything and hope movies like these come again to take bollywood to a positive side ,,,,,,,,

  10. RAJ GHOSH says:

    AFTER PAAN SINGH TOMAR, KAHAANI, VICKY DONOR, AND BOTH GANGS OF WASSEYPUR THIS MOVIE IS BY PAR THE BEST MOVIE OF THIS YEAR. INDIAN CINEMA IS REALLY CHANGING AND SO DOES THE AUDIENCE. THEY HAVE COME 2 KNOW THAT INDIAN AUDIENCE ALSO LIKES QUALITY RATHER THAN QUANTITY. LAST QUALITY BLOCKBUSTERS WERE 3IDIOTS AND MY NAME IS KHAN AND THEN CAME SERIES OF BRAINLESS (SOUTH MOCK) BLOCKBUSTERS. WAITING FOR THE DAY WHEN THESE TYPE OF QUALITY MOVIES HITS THE HUNDRED CRORE CLUB OR EVEN BREAK EVEN 200CR. I THANK ALL U FILMAKERS FOR MAKING SUCH GOOD QUALITY FILMS…

  11. Subhendu Mukherjee says:

    Ranbir and Priyanka deserve critical acclaim for having accepted and then delivered in roles that others from mainstream cinema would surely baulk at doing. Anurag Basu’s vision of this somewhat Utopian world – breathtaking cinematography – may be escapist but has translated into great cinema. Everything falls into place. Look, how Pritam has spun magic with many voices – Nikhil Paul George, Arijit Singh, Papon – that are not so well-known. Yes, it did drag for a while but, come on, it’s such a refreshing change from the current crop of films. It will give courage and conviction to other directors to break free from the Bollywood formula that has made movie watching so tedious. Star ratings being seen as relative, at least 4 would have done justice both to the film and you. Nevertheless, word of mouth will ensure that the audience’s views prevail

  12. Gururaj says:

    The movie was really good despite the fact that various scenes are lifted from various films.

  13. Prakash Chandra says:

    Rajeev this is not your kind of movie..Go n watch Rowdy Rathore or Housefull

  14. Bala says:

    Thats pretty good review . The film would have become a classic had Anurag avoided the unnecessary suspense plot which neither made sense nor added value to the basic plot and had he focused on the relationship between
    Ranbir-Priyanka as much (if not more) as that pictured between Ranbir and Ileana .The main crux of the story is the love that blossoms and lasts forever between Ranbir and Priyanka which kinda remained asking for more …
    All in all Ranbir is with any doubt the face of Indian Cinema . He was fabulous as Burfi .

  15. Suvigya says:

    Just like all Masand reviews, this too comes with ‘Spoilers found’ tag :)

    nonetheless, spot on with most of things, a 3.5 wud do better justice rating vise.

    Coming to movie, – yes it is lengthy and , yes it has at least3 scenes lifted straight out of foreign movies.

    but, lets be honest and as they say ‘ going by the bollywood standards’ – this is one of the finest pieces of work this year.

    Background score is good ( songs one too many for me), music is pretty soft and neat.

    Priyanka bares her gums more than her thighs for the first tym ;) < illena is impressive debutante and Saurabh is as gud as ever. with side kicks kicking in and letting the story on without much fuss.

    I want to point out a flaw by make-up artist or some assistant director – the old aged illena's hair-do is pathetic and clearly looks a painted wig, rather the over all make up for the character in her late years is below ( much below par….

    all in all, credit should go to the brilliant Basu, for making an entertainer, with a substance and a story line, drama with mellow and screenplay. which holds together till the very end, and is not full of superstar bullshit.

    Ranbir, Cinematography and Priyanka are the best things about the film, in the same order.

    and only if it was 15 minutes shorter, Burfi wud have been a sweet film remembered far and long !!!

  16. madyy says:

    Well after such a nice review , 3/5 ? That doesnt match your review just above your ratings .,..
    The only weak point i see in your review was about the length ? Was it really that long ? lol there was a moment i felt why was the movie not 3hrs
    Anyway , good review but again as usual disappointed ratings …
    Do you think that by giving less ratings to a good movie would make people feel that you are genuine ? Trust me it won’t , cause most of the people are and will not be liking the ratings you gave
    This movie is a MASTERPIECE of bollywood just like 3 idiots … The only IMO thats close to 3 idiots is Barfi!
    So dont worry people , watch Barfi!

  17. Jordan says:

    Very nice review sir!
    But give it atleast 4/5 stars

    u gave Raaz3 2/5 stars

  18. nirnay says:

    now theres sumthng out of d league. ..a good movie including good direction. …

  19. Unnikrishnan says:

    I think the rating was apt considering that portions of the movie were lifted from other English movies.
    It means good for viewing not for adoring.When do we see a Hindi film with 4 star rating? I guess not
    in 2012 but definitely by the end of 2013.

  20. rohan says:

    can anyone explain me the kidnapping plot..i was unable to understand

  21. Gururaj says:

    No. watch it again.

  22. Sangeeth says:

    This move is a big disappointment . You cant go over board with praise for such pretentious tuff. Except for Ranbir and Ileana and some good music by Pritam nothing is new or appeals.

  23. Barfi is truly one of the best movies released so far in 2012 after Kahani…It deserved atleast 4 stars…Plaigarism is not what u see in Barfi…!..a heart melting story…definitely deserves 4 stars…But i guess the critics take things of their nerves in reviewing movies…so much of a formality…ohh..nt really…! rajeev i ve liked all your earlier reviews…i especially liked the fact that u gave 4 stars or kabhi alvida na kehna…but barfi deserved much more!

  24. ridhi says:

    hey rajeev …
    it should be at least a 4/5 rating…
    you are being rude…
    the movie at least makes us a smile in the end …
    a really good cinema after along time…

  25. ridhi says:

    it is actually much better than heroine which you gave a 2/5 rating…
    i fell asleep while watching heroine… :-P

  26. rohin says:

    the movie gave me a sent of some of Woody`s film but with a little bit of sweetness……I felt in some places that Basu has repeated telling the same thing twice 1st time by video and 2nd by narration which comes some 5minutes later.
    may be he thought the Indian audience wouldn’t understand if its not told by a voice…..but this movie is one of the best….it deserves more than 3 rajeev… i know that you too feel the same way…….

  27. him says:

    rewiew , atleast 4
    disappointed.

  28. Gaurav says:

    Always respect your reviews…..but you gave 2.5 to Ek Tha Tiger and 3 to Barfi !…..they are one of the worst and best films of this year respectively…..couldnt quite digest your ratings on these two movies…

  29. Agam Aadhaar Talwar says:

    Hi Rajeev,
    You got this one wrong, completely. The movie is stands out, its been made with a lot of heart and the honesty really has come out from the entire team, so much so that its one of the best movies ever made in Indian cinema.

    It’s good to be critical, but a lot of people who go by your assessment would miss out one one of the heart warming beautifully made movie of bollywood. It’s a cherish-able experience which one would miss out on, if they don’t watch this one.

    It’s easily a 5/5 from my side – but u should have given it a 4 minimum.
    Either ways – I am no critic, but here goes my review, not giving out too much on the story line, but just what I as a viewer felt.
    Barfi –
    Big thumbs up guys – If you miss this one, then you’re missing one of the best movies ever made!
    Anurag Basu I tell you, one hell of a storyteller man, he’s made such a beautiful movie so much so that it actually got an applause at the interval and at the end(by the whole fucking theatre!). I know the Chennai crowd is good, we’ve seen them during cricket matches, but this one was something that I had never experienced.
    It’s a movie that I’ll be watching again for sure, and guys I would’nt mind paying to watch if bollywood made more good movies like this.
    I thought Ranbir had really peaked with his performance in Rockstar, but guess that was 10% what he’s shown he’s capable of, cause he has simply been brilliant, easily his best(I’m sure there’s more to come). I think he can take on any of the Khans any day, cause this guys got talent man, and he’s not just great – he’s brilliant.
    Priyanka – I think she’s really done justice to her role, it wasn’t any easy one, but kudos to her for pulling off such a role which required a lot of effort i’m sure.
    Illeana D’ Cruz – man she was beautiful! I fell in love with her smile, her expressions n she looked amazing in the saree. Apart from that, I think it was a memorable performance n I’d say to her – welcome to bollywood, it’s great to have you here!
    Guys bottomline ye hai – ki its an honest movie, it hits you in the heart….I felt good – so will you..
    Agams Rating – 5/5 *****

  30. Aarti Gupta says:

    Barfi gets nominated for Oscars — seriously, packing in zillions of cutesy moments do not make a genuine film, howsoever great the performances! Anurag Basu needs to realize: less is more!, and there is something called ‘editing’. A film needs to be an organic whole with a storyline that sticks, and not a ragtag bunch of epic scenes, great music and forced sub-plots — (father dying of kidney failure(?), rich-girl-falling-for-poor-boy-but-marrying-rich-guy, needless kidnapping whodunit, mistaken identity, police chase which was delightful on its own, but did it seem real for a love-torn guy… I really don’t get the hype.

  31. tmkc says:

    rating sense sucks big time

  32. Vinit says:

    After watching senseless films like ra.one……..”barfi!” was much much better film after long time,it deserves atleast 4 out of 5 stars.

  33. Sir, great review, as usual. Here’s my take:

    Honey-strewn Barfi!

    Far from a mere title, Barfi is a metaphor for life. It asks one to throw cautions to the winds and indulge in the sweetness that life has to offer. It can be a simple bicycle ride, a seed-spitting marshmallow treat, a ‘second-hand’ painting session, a pani-puri indulgence, or trapping fireflies in a bubble (Can we perceive it as an effulgent soul trapped in a bubble of mortal body? Or maybe I am reading too much between the lines, or rather frames? Blame it on the screenplay that tugs your heartstrings and inspires philosophical symphonies).

    To begin with, Barfi, written and directed by Anurag Basu is replete with many such honey-strewn scenes that translate into lump-in-throat moments, and simultaneously elicit smiles without trying too hard. A tough feat indeed, for any screenplay writer worth his/her salt.

    The film greets us with a ‘Picture shuru’ track, which I hope is allowed to be used for every film. This would make those ‘Statutory warnings’, ‘Switch off your mobile phones’ and ‘Acknowledgments’ slides something worth looking forward to. The song not only sounds catchy, but also works at functional level, where many cell phone addicts promptly pressed the ‘mute’ icon, to make way for yet another ‘mute icon’ – Ranbir Kapoor.

    The actor is a textbook of performing art – someone who can pull off a Charlie Chaplin slapstick sequence with as much ease as a heavy-duty emotional outburst without uttering a single word and overacting. Ranbir Kapoor is chameleon of an artist, who becomes the character he portrays. Ten minutes in the film, and you forget he’s Ranbir Kapoor and start believing that he’s Murphy, oops Bafi, as the lead character would like to put it.

    Far from the chicken soup for disabled souls or a lesson on sign language for deaf and dumb. Chuck the euphemisms of ‘differently-abled’ or ‘special’, ‘hearing/speech impaired’ ‘specially abled’ etc., for Barfi! makes no bones about the character’s disabilities, nor does its lead character solicit your sympathy. In fact, after few minutes, Murphy i.e. Barfi doesn’t make you wish he’d be as normal (or abnormal) as us.

    Barfi falls for a girl, gets rejected, seeks solace in his childhood friend, gets entangled in a kidnap case, and the destinies of these three lead characters crisscross each other, making way for a non-linear narrative that keeps you hooked right from opening sequence till the end credits.

    Priyanka Chopra deserves kudos for her flawless performance as an autistic girl called Jhilmil. It takes real guts to strip oneself off the star status and the obvious trappings of essaying an autistic character, and Priyanka Chopra excels at it and sets new benchmarks of acting. For those comparing her to Shri Devi should first understand the difference between autistic person and a mentally challenged person (pardon the euphemism). Well if you wish to still compare, go ahead and compare her with Shah Rukh Khan in My Name is Khan, and still she’d win hands down.

    Ileana D’Cruz portrays the role of Shruti Ghosh, the narrator of the film to perfection, and lets her eyes do the talking. Her character subtly makes you feel guilty of being bestowed with five senses, thanks to the ‘layered writing’ and nuanced performance.

    Ravi Chandran paints the canvas of silver screen with vivid hues of emotions through his immaculate cinematography. Anthony Gonsalvez and Akiv Ali edit the film in a seamless style. Be it the opening song, the Chalu Chaplin sequences or the tight close-up sequences, each scene exudes charm and commands respect.

    The music is the soul of Barfi! It would have been impossible to maneuver through the layers of lead characters without those lilting melodies handholding us at every step. Preetam must take a bow to come up with a career-best soundtrack, right from the ‘making of the film’ song ‘Fatafati’, the opening credits song, ‘Picture shuru’, to the buoyant ‘Aala Barfi’, catchy ‘Mein kya karu’ and ‘Kyun’, soothing ‘Saawli si raat ho’ and sonorous ‘Aashiyaan’.

    The song, ‘Phir le aaya dil’ is indeed a pearl in the oyster of the film’s narration. This soulful rendition by Arjit Singh and Rekha Bhardwaj is easily one of the best ghazals we’ve ever heard in films. The songs weave words with an effortless ease and enchant us with their phonetics and vocabulary. After all it’s not everyday that you google a word’s meaning after watching a film.

    The words like ‘mayassar’ and ‘musalsal’ in the nuggets of a line, ‘Dil keh raha hai, use mayassar kar bhi aao, woh jo dabi si aas baaki hain’ will compel you to do so. The song evokes one to make the desires complete, and further prods yearnings to be made available and paths to be made unending – Hats off to the ensemble of lyricists Swanand Kirkire, Neelesh Mishra, Ashish Pandit, and Sayeed Quadri.

    Despite the fact that Barfi! is an extremely well-made film, it somehow falls short of being proclaimed as a masterpiece cinema. Perhaps it’s because one’s mind is at work to assess a film which requires to be watched from the heart – just like its characters Barfi and Jhilmil love each other.

    So the diabetic critics and ‘This looks like Amelie’ or ‘We’ve seen such films at film festivals’ expert opinion-makers beware, Barif! isn’t for you. A film like Barfi! isn’t meant to be watched, but experienced. Not to be rated, but celebrated. Not reviewed, but revered. Damn the stars.

    - Prakash Gowda
    Vadodara, Gujarat

  34. Nirav says:

    Rajeev sir , this time you are just a mile away :( , only 3 stars !

  35. Rishabh Shukla says:

    Sir kindly watch this video.
    Paan Singh Tomar lost out to a film whose 2nd half was gone baby gone and 1st half was result of late night movie marathon.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HjxA3A862E

  36. Sudeep Gangadharan says:

    Hi Rajeev,

    Nice review. But, to be frank I feel let down that Barfi looks like a ripoff from “The Notebook”. Some scenes like where her Ileana’s mother takes her to meet her ex, the scene where she fights with her mother and husband, before joining the hero, to the part of their final death. It sounds more like Barfi was Notebook modified to sell to indian audience. Ranbir has done a very good role, so has Illeana and Priyanka but that apart, nominating this movie for an Oscar is really bad. Feels like the original author of NoteBook been cheated out his work. Its the best movie in India right now but certainly not worthy of an Oscar nominee. It will be like sending Chachi 420! for an Oscar. Not fair to other original works!
    If I had’nt watched “The Notebook”, I guess i would’nt be this biased. Loved the movie nevertheless, loved to take my entire family to it. Everyone will enjoy it.

    -Sudeep Gangadharan

  37. ankkur shah says:

    Surprised at your genorisity for giving 3 out of 5 to Barfi which is a shameless copy from so many films(without an acknowledgement) . Being the hardcore , no-nonsense film critic that you are , we expected more fairness and less partiality from you Rajeev

  38. Shrikant says:

    Rajeev Sir 3 out of 5 Not fair at all . its 4/5 Atleast………………………..Indias official entry at oscar definately deserve that much……….

  39. Sushovan Das says:

    3 out of 5 is not fair at all.The film’s quite philosophical and not just a mere love story as it doesnt have a happy ending.

  40. Miheer Pansare says:

    3 out of 5 is best, even 3 because the movie is quite different

  41. ashu says:

    sorry rajeev, i m nt satisfied with ur star on this movie… its wonderfull

  42. rahul says:

    4.5/5 sir this is excellent

  43. gaurav says:

    firstly for the people who are saying that it is copied or scenes are copied.
    the greatest movie of all time (titanic) winning record 11 academy awards .
    a movie with same plot and same title is made before in1953 by Jean Negulesco so it means that in 1997 titanic is shit.
    let me tell you a story.once charlie chaplin competed an event of being charlie and he got 3.this is about the worlds greatest actor.
    if the scenes are copied it doesn’t mean its not great movie.you know that how many times king kong and other movies are made at same plot so if it happens in hollywood it is great and have something in it but if anurag did it all the people start catching him.
    this film cant be nominated for best director because the idea is taken from somewhere but,for all other categories it is the best movie ever made in bollywood and can compete with movies like forrest gump.
    masand is saying story telling is bad so what in pulp fiction,fight club.

  44. NK says:

    For some reason, I always am in tandem with your ratings on movies to the point that now when I look at your ratings I almost incredibly get a mental picture of what I am in for. The first 40 to 50 minutes into the movie and I had almost washed my hands off it because Ileana, pretty as she looks, failed to create a lasting impression just by herself while Barfi was still in the folds of character building. Enter Jhilmil and the whole scenario changes- after that I watched the movie looking at it unfolding through her mind and in anticipation of what would happen and how Barfi would be able to become her soulmate. Priyanka always stuns you- whether it is a ‘Fashion’ or a ’7 Khoon Maaf’ and now the all surpassing ‘Barfi’..Keep it coming miss Chops!

  45. Padmesh says:

    I have just one word to describe this movie: “Beautiful”.
    Its such a sweet movie,which made me smile from my heart.
    I beg to disagree with your rating!

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