Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review of Indian movie Barfi

I was, as usual, dragged by a friend to watch another movie the friend had heard great things about which in this case was writer & director Anurag Basu's movie 'Barfi'. The film begins with Ranbir Kapoor, the eponymous Barfi, aged-by-makeup so much so that he actually looked a bit ridiculous. The first half hour was slow, in fact beginning the movie with Barfi in old age sort of killed all the suspense for me: I mean no matter how bad it gets obviously this character makes it to a very ripe old age. The movie then goes into two flashbacks, one inside the other, carrying the further risk of boring an impatient film goer; in fact, Barfi really only picks up after the intermission.

But to my surprise I found myself wooed, long before the intermission, by the cinematography of a 1970's Darjeeling, West Bengal which reminded me so much of a yesteryear Muree (hill station in Pakistani Punjab) where life seemed just as slow and cozy and close. I was also wooed by the deaf and mute Barfi's sweet, Chaplinesque antics no matter how unbelievable, as well as everyone's fine acting especially Priyanka Chopra who is barely recognizable as 'herself' without the glamor girl hair and make up and tight outfits. Priyanka plays Jhilmil Chatterjee an autistic girl, though in my estimation her acting seems to fit the profile of someone mildly retarded rather than autistic, but that said Priyanka's understated acting is a delight to watch. I came to care deeply for Jhilmil  in her weird girl-woman attire,  her bursts of delight, her averted gaze, her confidence to negotiate life as much as she can on her own terms.
 Barfi then is a lovely film about everyone-- no matter what they are up against-- possessing the ability to lead fulfilling lives. The movie's central conflict is a love triangle but refreshingly enough it is also a movie in which  'real' love is not necessarily your first love or even the most predictable. Barfi also brings up the age old issue of love versus money, as well as the choices one makes and subsequent regret. Is there always regret no matter what path one chooses? Had Shruti  chosen another way would she truly have been happy?
Barfi is full of beautiful little touches: Barfi's shoe as signal, Barfi intertwining Jhilmil's pinkies, Barfi with a rough, 'no', one of the few time Barfi speaks, ripping Jhilmil's bag away from Shruti. Pritam's score is excellent however I think the viewer could have done with many more moments of absolute silence in order to understand Barfi's inner world i.e. that he cannot hear a thing.
I left the movie theater glad I'd watched Barfi but not particularly enamored. Two days later, do I wish the movie moved a lot faster in the beginning, absolutely, but the fact that I'm still thinking about it makes me realize that I am smitten. Barfi is India's selection for the 2013 Oscars; though not a perfect film it is very good and I hope it makes the cut.

That said: I just saw the  list of nominations from India. I haven't watched all of them: but between Barfi and Kahani, I think Kahani should have been nominated. I'm surprised Delhi Belly isn't on the list. Here's my post on why Barfi is only good for an Indian film.

1) Eega (Telugu)
2) 7am Arivu (Tamil)
3) Vazhakku Enn 18/9 (Tamil)
4) Akasathinte Niram (Malayalam)      
5) Heroine (Hindi)
6) Paan Singh Tomar (Hindi)
7) Kahaani (Hindi)
8 ) Barfi! (Hindi)
9) GoW – Parts 1 & 2 (Hindi)
10) Arjun – The Warrior Prince (Hindi)
11) Gattu (Hindi)
12) Jalpari (Hindi)
13) The Dirty Picture (Hindi)
14) Ferrari Ki Sawari (Hindi)
15) Deool (Marathi)
16) Veer Hamirji – Somnath Ni Sakhate (Gujarati)
17) Anhey Ghore Da Daan (Punjabi)
18) Kaksparsh (Marathi)
19) Tukaram (Marathi)
20) Vazhakku EN 18/9 (Tamil)

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