It is an almost indisputable fact that films often use life’s misfortunes to lure their audience to connect with their protagonist and their story. In most cases filmmakers use disabled leads , contrived misfortunes , jilted lovers and self-sacrificing heroines almost always leading to loads of melodrama and bags of soaked tissues. Barfi uses all of the above plot tools yet stays so matter of fact and so real that you can’t help falling in love with it.
Barfi is all about three characters who form a love triangle – Barfi , Jhilmil and Sruti played by Ranbir , Priyanka and Ileana respectively. That Barfi is deaf and mute, Jhilmil is differently abled and Sruthi is married , does not affect the story arc and does not manipulate the audience into rooting for/against a particular character. Strip away the handicaps and what you have is a standard done to death love triangle and this is where Barfi as a movie succeeds. Anurag uses a very common story template , adds the above mentioned plot devices and includes spectacular moments to create a heady mix which appeals to one and all.
Often , when one has characters with disabilities or emotional burden , one tends to highlight their angst and plight so heavily that one ends up creating saint like two-dimensional characters. Anurag tosses this out of the window and ends up creating real , believable characters who do what they do , yet regret / resent doing it. In one of the first moments in the film , where one is Introduced to Shruti , one sees her room filled with photos of her and Barfi – capturing what you assume as their life together.Much Much later into the film , at the fag-end , you end up realizing that the photos were not of hers and Barfi’s alone – they also include jhimil , who has been folded into invisibility by Shruti – this despite the fact that but for Sruti , Barfi and Jhilmil would not have had a happy ending.
It is moments like these , that make you root for Anurag Basu the film maker , be it the moment where Jhilmil tries to check out if she’d look good in a Saree like Sruti which indicates her subtle jealousy or the tears in Sruti’s eyes accompanying her bright smile as Barfi marries Jhilmil indicating her heartbreak and happiness. These moments when they occur , makes you forgive the occasional dragging that happens and gives you additional insight into the characters , layer by layer. Jhilmil’s possesiveness towards her man and her fear of Ileana is so subtly indicated as she comes forward , and forms a barrier of sorts with her hands . Much later chronologically , she consoles a broken Sruti patting her arms lightly , letting the audience know that Jhilmil has accepted what has to happen whereas Sruti has not.
Yet for all the spectacular moments , brilliant acting , soul-stirring music – rerecording included and captivating cinematography , Barfi is not without flaws. The movie drags at times and could have very well avoided the kidnap , robbery and mystery angle to the story.The ending , so notebookish also seems a tad contrived. But one forgives the flaws when one comes out of the theatre as what stays is Ranbir’s brilliant acting , Priyanka’s lovely outing as Jhilmil ( which is at Par with Sridevi’s act in Moondram Pirai) , the lovely lovely Darjeeling brought to life by Ravivarman and the music which is undoubtably Pritam’s best till date.
Watch Barfi atleast once – for it is good cinema which appeals to a very wide palate. Watch it because , it brings a smile to your face , a smile which is due to the fact that the experience of watching this movie takes one back to a place where life is beautiful and real , despite the occasional brutality and unhappiness.