U; Romantic Comedy
Dir: Anurag Basu
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ileana DCruz
Admittedly, one went to watch the film with certain reservations. First of all, Kites – director Anurag Basu’s last film – remains fresh in memory. Then of course is the fact that most Hindi films about disabled protagonists are so full of hamming and tiresome melodrama (Case in point: Sargam, Sadma, Nache Mayuri, Black) that they just end up making us cringe. Not so Barfi. Although this film is about a deaf-mute man and his search for love, it is told with humour and sensitivity.
Barfi is born to a poor couple in Darjeeling. His mother passes away shortly after his birth and Barfi – discovered to be deaf – is brought up by his driver father. Barfi isn’t shy about his disability; instead he is a mischief-maker, an opportunist. He follows young girls like Shruti around town declaring his love for them and asking them to be friends after they reject him.
He is also friends with the neighbourhood rich girl Jhilmil who is autistic and whose own parents find her difficult to love. The film is about Barfi’s love for these two women and their love for him.
Anurag Basu makes a mature, evenly-paced film, lovingly detailed, with warm fuzzy layers and golden hues. Its Chaplinesque overtones add humour and wit to a story which could so easily have been just maudlin. The only problem with this film is its constant and incoherent time switches. The flashbacks are disjointed and it’s difficult to figure out what is happening when in the film.
Ileana makes a mature debut. Although she looks too young for her role, she manages to be competent. Priyanka does a super job. Her Jhilmil is awkward ungainly and mistrustful but thoroughly lovable. It could have so easily turned into a Sadma. But Priyanka manages to infuse her autistic character with charm, guile and intelligence. However, the film would not have been this good without Barfi himself. Ranbir, that man is so natural and effortless with his Chaplinesque rendition of Barfi, that it’s a sheer pleasure to watch.