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Set in the 1970s in a pretty corner of India, Barfi. is the story of three young people who learn that love can neither be defined nor contained by society's norms of normal and abnormal. Barfi, a hearing and speech impaired boy falls in love with Shruti. In spite of her deep affection for Barfii, Shruti gives into societal and parental pressure to marry a 'normal' man and lead a 'normal' life. Many years later their paths cross once again when Barfi, now in love with Jhilmil, is on the run from the police. Barfi is desperately seeking Jhilmil, who has gone missing. Shruti's realization that Jhilmil is autistic makes her recognize that true love is really blind. Caught in a cat and mouse game, in the search for the girl Barfi loves, Shruti realizes that she is still in love with him.Written by
A perfect example of art that can forever stay in your heart
India's official entry to the Oscars - Barfi! might as well have been an acronym for: Breathtaking (cinematography), Astounding (acting), Ruthless (breaking of stereotypes about the disabled), Fantastic (music), and Invigorating (feeling in your heart as you leave the theater).
This is essentially a love triangle between Barfi (played endearingly by Ranbir Kapoor), a hearing and speech impaired son of a poor chauffeur, Jhilmil (played brilliantly by Priyanka Chopra), an autistic girl almost abandoned by her rich parents, and Shruti the narrator of the tale of love (played convincingly by debutante Illeana De Cruz), the soon to be married tourist visiting Darjeeling along with her parents.
The writer and director - Anurag Basu uses non linear storytelling to traverse between 1972, 1978, and 2012 Darjeeling, Calcutta, and little known places of Bengal as they three protagonists try and grapple with Love and its various heart rendering implications to their lives. For a film with hardly any dialogs, 'Barfi!' amazingly manages to say a lot, using a combination of sign language, facial expressions, first person narration, and sometimes simply stunning silences to convey a gamut of emotions.
Several sequences stand out for their sheer brilliance, be it Barfi's reaction at Shruti's choice of her fiancé (Jishu Sengupta in a small but significant role), Shruti and her mother's (played beautifully by the veteran Roopa Ganguly) exchanges on certain choices in Love, Barfi and Jhilmil's night in the forest illuminated by fireflies, Barfi's cutting off of the lamp posts to test the loyalty of his friends, Jhilmil's fantasy about getting married as she watches a 'Chau Dance' in a village, Daju's (Haradhan in a superb supporting role) tear stricken face as he finally accepts Jhilmil's fate and let's her go, the unfolding of the photograph's at Shruti's house to finally reveal the truth about her entire life, and lastly, the finale. All these, and many more, are sure to be etched as a memory, not in your mind, but rather in your heart.
This film shows how one can find happiness in the small things in life, and how disabilities, be in financial, mental, or physical can never really appear as a handicap to an otherwise soaring spirit that does not know how to give up on life. This film reminds us that falling in Love is natural, while staying in Love a decision that must be taken with the heart, rather than the mind. And finally, this is a film that tries, without trying too hard, to help you understand that the language of Love does not necessarily require the wisdom of words.
One might argue that certain portions of the film are 'inspired' from other films. For example, certain dialogs between Shruti and her mother might remind you of the Notebook, certain mannerisms of Barfi as he tries his best to escape the bungling cop (played aptly by Saurabh Shukla) cause you to recollect sequences from the films of Charlie Chaplin, while the way Barfi tries to entertain Jhilmil & Shruti remind you of Singing in The Rain and Mr Bean. Yet, Barfi manages to stand on its own for the way it interprets these classic scenes and the logicality of their inclusion in the proceedings.
The Hair and Makeup department, however, especially when it tries to show the same actors playing aged characters, is the only one that takes a slight dent. Yet almost everything else manages to come together in unison to more than compensate for this slight glitch. And it does so, at numerous places managing to make you think, smile, cry, and sigh, sometimes all at the same time, and in quick succession.
Watch it for the performances (especially that of Ranbir and Priyanka), the vision of the director Anurag Basu and cinematographer Ravi Varman, the terrific score of the music director Pritam Chakravarty, and last but not the least for the innumerable ways in which Love has been expressed between the characters. Trust me - this is the perfect example of art that can forever stay in your heart.
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