Indian cinema has always had a strong desire to portray disabilities on screen. While 99% of such films are dull and message oriented, there are a few directors who prove that such people don’t always mean gloom.
And so we have Anurag Basu taking us in the life of Murphy. For three hours he transports us into a world which is literally a fairy tale. Such is the beauty of the final product that I actually felt like not leaving the cinema hall; staying a little more in Barfi and Jhilmil’s world.
Have you ever felt irritated by the beginning credits of a film? The ones which go like – “Special thanks to…”, “Media partners”, “Publicity partners“, and the names of thousand other brands which might have played a miniscule role in the film? But in Barfi, you never realize when all that finished. Reason?
“PICTURE SHURUUUU…. HO GAYI PICTURE SHURU….”
This was innovation at its cinematic best. Swanand Kirkire’s witty and apt lines in his own voice make us rapt with attention, as if telling us – “Watch this one. It is different from the usual stuff.”
In fact, this movie deserves a place in the Guinness book of world records – it makes us laugh even before a single scene of the movie has been shown. (I’m sure there are some morons who will already be trying to find plagiarism even in this scene.)
In the very beginning, we are told how mute munna came to be named Murphy, and why the film is titled – “MBAARFII…”
Set in three different times – 1972, 1978 and present day, Barfi adopts an abstract narrative style right from the first scene. Flashbacks are introduced and we have a “Memento” kind of merging of the past and the present. The transition from one period to another are pulled off brilliantly – the scene where ranbir and Ileana crash into the bushes on their cycle, and when the Murphy hoarding is replaced by a bicycle brand hoarding.
Barfi lights up the proceedings right from the first scene itself. As he and his accident-prone bicycle give us a glimpse of the picturesque Darjeeling via Ravi Verman’s magical camera shots, we soon are introduced to the beautiful Shruti played by Ileana D’cruz. For the flirtatious and charming Barfi, it doesn’t take long before he falls for her. Some beautiful sequences like the town clock sequence, the horse ride sequence and the dance party sequence lead to both of them falling in love with each other.
However when it is finally time to confront the girl’s parents, Barfi is heart broken when he realizes that “Yeh shaadi nahi ho sakti !!!”
With a currency note in one hand and an umbrella in the other which just refuses to open up, we are treated to one of the best scenes in the movie. As the currency note changes hands, tears fall down as Barfi vents out his angst on the equally helpless Shruti.
Enter Jhilmil’s world. An autistic child who absolutely hates wet puddles; she is “BBUUHHFFEE’s” bachpan ki friend. The events that follow lead Barfi to attempt a kidnapping and rob a bank. Finally he lands up with Jhilmil.
What follows is one of the most brilliant and beautiful depictions of a relationship between two people. From inter twining little fingers to toilet assistance, every scene is a gem. Situations forbid them from being separated, and together they eat watermelons hurling seeds on window glasses, walk “nange paav” through streams and finally reach kolkata.
Their bond further intensifies as they start living together in a house that overlooks the Howrah Bridge. He works just opposite to where they live, earning a living by writing on steel vessels. They both talk to each other via mirrors, he chases her with a party horn, and she scares him every time he enters the house, feeling satisfied only when he fakes to have been scared to death – every moment they share is sweetness personified. He can’t speak, she rarely speaks, but they share a silent bond so strong and powerful that brings tears to our eyes.
There are some very genuine and sweet scenes – the watermelon scene, and consequently when Barfi alone is eating a watermelon and he misses Jhilmil.
Watch how Barfi washes the mud off Jhilmil’s feet, and how shyly Jhilmil Offers a small flower to Barfi.
The bridge scene is hilarious. Watch how Jhilmil tries desperately to hold herself while barfi continues to shake the entire bridge.
The scene where Barfi is running the cart and the two inspectors turn up is hilarious, especially when Jhilmil shouts “HUHH HUHH” at Barfi. So is the scene where they travel in a truck loaded with hollow barrels.
The butterfly sequence is cute too.
In Kolkata, we witness the re-entry of Shruti who is now an unhappily married woman. That bond of affection still exists between both Barfi and Shruti and it is made quite evident on screen. As the 3 travel together in trams and eat pani puri, Jhilmil very cutely tries to imitate Shruti. Watch her wear a sari and study her own waist in the mirror, and trying to eat an entire pani puri at one go but failing. With the puri still clinging to her mouth and clothes, she finally gets frustrated. As she finally returns to her muskaan “home”, Shruti starts living with Barfi. But Barfi now realizes what he has lost. A frantic search for a scribbled phone number and Barfi finally reaches “Muskaan”.
The climax is the icing on the cake and it makes up for few of the blemishes in the post interval phase. We can’t help but weep as Barfi frantically searches every room for Jhilmil. He hurls his shoe in front of every window before finally turning back to leave. And then the window opens and we hear “BBUUUHHFFEEE”.
Their union is just brilliant. Anurag Basu makes sure he treats both the love stories differently. If Barfi and Shruti’s kiss was apt, Barfi and Jhilmil’s forehead “milan” is even better, more effective than the kiss.
The end of the film has been cleverly done. The movie goes once again into flashback as we are treated to a colorful wedding of Barfi and Jhilmil, thus ending the movie on a happy note.
Read my music review of BARFI HERE
This film would have been ruined had it been subjected to a mediocre soundtrack. But Pritam’s songs are just outstanding. Thankfully, every single song has been included in the movie. Their placement, picturization and effect are PERFECT.
Add to that a lilting background score by Jim Satya, Prasad Sashte and Pritam, which brings out ever emotion beautifully. They deserve a national award for their background score in Barfi.
Just like “Life in a metro”, here also we see 3 musicians in many scenes, busy playing music. Looks like this is Anurag’s lucky charm. I wouldn’t be surprised if the one of 3 musicians turns out to be Pritam himself, or maybe Anurag.
Ranbir kapoor as Barfi is amazing and flawless. He shows us why he is the one of best actors in bollywood today. He is clumsy, cute, makes you laugh and cry with equal effort and ease. He has guaranteed almost all best actor awards even this year. He totally dominates your lacrimal glands during the umbrella scene, and he makes you roll with laughter when he shows his hairy leg to a stranger staring at Jhilmil. (By the way that stranger’s role has been played by director saab himself.
Ileana D’cruz looks gorgeous on screen. She emotes well and plays both the engaged cheerful Shruti and the married subdued Shruti with aplomb. Hers is a restrained performance and certainly a very good one to debut in hindi films.
Priyanka chopra is outstanding. Every movement of hers holds your attention – the way she wipes her nose, her facial expressions, those small things of joy like the paper figures, the glass ball, the kaleidoscope in the climax scene – she guarantees herself all the awards, maybe even the national award.
We watch with joy as she tries to sway the hand fan wrongly, and catches an aged ranbir hiding a cigarette. We watch with tears as she makes space for herself besides the “docomo wala” ranbir kapoor, snuggles besides him, and finally breathing her last as they both die together.
The rest of the cast does well. As the “majboor” baap, Aashish vidyarthi is good.
Akash Khurana as Ranbir kapoor’s father does a brief but nice role. A special mention for the scene when Barfi tells his dad midway on the street that he and Shruti are in love.
Saurabh shukla as the police officer does a fine job.
Ranbir’s friend is played by Bhola raj sapkota and he too is good.
As Shruti’s mother, Rupa Ganguly is very good. The old owner of Muskaan who has a very strong affinity for Jhilmil is brilliant. The scene when he finally realizes that there is someone who loves Jhilmil even more than he himself is superb.
Sumona Chakravarti looks too adorable in a very small role which makes her go “Sooo cute” several times. Well, same thing for you too – “Sooo cute”. I had wished to see more of you in the film.
Anurag’s direction is brilliant. He does confuse us with a vague narrative style, but manages to keep our attention. The story slows down in the second half, but one doesn’t mind as he’s treated to the very mesmerizing chemistry between Barfi and Jhilmil. He brings out the magic in every scene of the movie. Just as a dialogue in the film goes, he pays a lot of attention to small and finer details, and that is what makes Barfi a treat.
Keeping aside all the controversies surrounding the film, all I know is one thing – Barfi transported me to another world. It actually saddened me to think at the end of 3 hours that the movie is over. It makes you laugh with glee. It makes you go “Awww” with its sweet cute moments. It makes you shamelessly weep and cry because you actually feel like crying. Unlike movies where you weep due to tragic endings, here you actually want to. You feel like living that moment when Barfi and Jhilmil finally meet in the end.
And you come out with wet eyes and a biiig smile on your face – and THAT is a director’s true achievement. If he succeeds in doing that, he deserves applause.
Barfi is an art – which is meant to be experienced, lived, relished, cherished and savored. Mind you, the after taste will linger in your mouth for days to come, making you fall even more in love with it.