Swamped by reviews that are going gaga over a movie tends to colour one’s view, but the good thing about that is it gives a chance to see things through a more critical eye.
Barfi’s world has a lot of colours and textures, varied landscape...it is a story of a journey. Born as mute and followed by his mother’s death he has a father who indulges him thoroughly; two beautiful sequences – when his father accidentally sees him with Shruti and when he comes heart-broken from Shruti’s place and lies by his father’s side holding him close; these two spoke volumes about the relationship and shown in contrast to the relationship shared by Jhilmil with her parents. Jhilmil is born to riches, but her world is decrepit not because she is autistic, but because she has insensitive parents. The paradox of Jhilmil’s character and in a sense irony is, that she is differently-abled becomes her strength and her parents who should have been her strength, are a limitation in her life. Shruti’s word is clichéd, born to well-off parents, going to be married to a well-off guy, who she marries eventually, but swept-off meanwhile by a rainbow called Barfi.
Overwhelmed with most of it, I can go on raving, but first let me do away with a few things that could have been worked upon.
The entire kidnapping sub-plot is long-winded, and can be questioned at many a turns. As I go through the various interviews on the movie, one thing that came across is while shooting they went with the flow rather than following a bound script; all that can be very good, but any crime based drama like kidnapping can be very tricky if the script is not water-tight and can be questioned, which is the case here. Secondly, Jhilmil’s father is shown to fire all the servants including Jung Bahadur (Barfi’s Father), and then shown that he is chauffeured by another driver...why did he fire them at the first place? Obvious Answer – Jung Bahadur needed to be taken ill, hospitalized for which his son would require money, and hence Barfi inadvertently becomes part of the kidnapping drama.... too loose I must say! Thirdly, the story started with a beautiful epilogue-prologue kind of a format, but out of nowhere comes three old and haggard characters, narrating the story as if they are being interviewed. But who is interviewing them? Was someone writing a diary or a book on Barfi? I missed it if it is so. These interviewees were part of the story, and need not have been separately made to sit and do the narration.
So many things that moved me...I can go on and on. The opening couplets right at the very ‘veginning’ was a beautiful one, something that is done mostly in stage-theatre! As Ranbir Kapoor correctly pointed out in one of his interviews, that with a few minutes one completely forgets that he is mute; Jhilmil and of course Barfi has portrayed so much of physical movements, something very rare in mainstream Hindi cinema and only visible in action and dance sequences...kudos to him and the lady for that! One can’t help but appreciate Ms. Chopra for the huge amount of effort she has put. I am sure it was very tempting to go overboard, but she kept it just right. Having said that, Ranbir Kapoor is mesmerizing; it is a delight to watch him perform...one just can’t miss his instinctive reactions. The sequence where he runs in with money, and realizes his Father is no more; they don’t show his father, and only his right profile; he just take s a step or two back, and one has to just look at his eyes...that was all there to it in that frame...he blew me away! Jhilmil asking Barfi to open her drawstrings and the latter’s reaction...these are moments that make the movie worth watching. Somewhere in the movie, a lump formed inside my chest because I was mourning for the life’s denials that Barfi experienced and there are many such nuanced moments, but I would rather leave it for the viewer to experience it on his/her own.
Lastly a word on Saurabh Shukla...fabulous he is as the pot-bellied cop ad ‘veginning’ is what he said!
Anurag Basu is splendid; the storytelling was good, the music brilliant and the locales he chose were fabulous. Having the story based out of Ghoom near Darjeeling added to the flavour, mountains do have a tendency to make one sad, but at the same time injects a survival instinct...would the story have been same if it was not based near the mountain...I wonder. The other thing was using ‘Chou Naach’...it added colour and vibrancy; conceiving the act of throwing the shoe up on the air was touching and Jhilmil guarding Barfi away from Shruti when they trace back the former, and at the end Jhilmil wiping away Shruti’s tears were poignant moments ...who says, Silence doesn’t carry sound?