Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Starring: Sheer Talent
Rating: 4 stars
Challenging deep rooted biases in small town India, retaining their sensibilities, dialect, language, humour and also keeping it entertaining is a mammoth task. Bareilly Ki Barfi nails it in every department.
It's true when Bitti's liberal father says Humne beti ko bete ki tarah pala hain yet he doesn't realise the deep rooted misogyny in the same line. He shares cigarettes with her yet tells her how she must sit on a bike. The mother calls the nocturnal daughter, Bitti, chudail and a friend calls his friend sissy when he finds him crying, Janani ki tarah aansoo baha rahe ho. And despite such disturbing stereotyping of women, there is a scene when a love-struck man declares his love for a woman, he is aptly questioned Kya Rama bhi tum se pyar karti hain?
In this heartwarming love triangle of mistaken identities and romantic poetry, just when we feel that the quarrelling suitors, with their pointless inflated male chauvinistic egos, have forgotten what the leading lady really wants, the end of the film surprises us yet again, restoring my faith in good writing. Phew, that was a long sentence, unlike the movie that's short, gets to the point and keeps you engaged before you reach the denouement. Thank you Nitesh Tiwari and Shreyas Jain! Thank you for writing a snappy second half (despite the heartbreak song), thank you for infusing smells and colours into words like Kantaap and Liliya Rahe Ho and turning matlab into mallab, unhone into unne and bahut into baoutiii, lending the required dialect to the setting. But most of all, thank you for showing us that one can write a funny script where humour is in-built, a part of storytelling and not contrived. Barring the 'Rajesh wets/beds Seema wedding card jokes, shamelessly lifted from the internet, clever lines like Sari pehanane wala topi pehna gaya is a comment on a character's profession and his change of heart besides evoking a genuine laugh. Bravo.
Bareilly Ki Barfi is an interesting take on love triangles with ample twists and turns, worthy of an Abbas Mastan potboiler, but only a tad more believable. The smart script fixes a flaw just when you point it out. And even if you find something implausible, you go with the flow only because the story is told so well, the characters are so believable and the performances are so exquisite.
Ayushmann Khurrana, inhaling and exhaling the right amount of desipan and urban swag as an author in Bareilly, uses his charm to keep you engaged in his selfish mean character of Chirag Dubey. He cries effectively at a crucial self-awareness moment that makes him the true hero of the film. That scene is a winner. Hindi films usually glorify mean behavior in the name of humour, making it acceptable. Chirag's mean ways are regularly called out in the movie, (aap bahut neech hain), and are finally fixed in this pre-climatic scene, showing us a brilliant character graph, rarely scene in Hindi films.
Kriti Sanon is a revelation. She is the perfect example of what a pretty face can do in Bollywood when not treated like ornaments. She owns the local dialect and is consistent with it.
But the star(s) of the movie are Rajkummar Rao and Seema Bhargav. The lady is poetry in motion. Her body language and her dialogue delivery is spot on. Her simple hain, hain ki nahi, awkward social laughs are so true blue UPite that you can't help but gush about her acting chops. Oh she is such a delight to watch!
In comparison to Ayushmann, Rajkummar Rao has a lot to play with and he brings out every nuance of Pritam Vidrohi as he switches between squeaky voiced simpleton to the baddie with a baritone. There is a scene where he is down and out. He walks into a local market with droopy shoulders. He suddenly encounters the leading lady. There is role play here. He is expected to be all macho in front of her. His sagging shoulders perk up, his face looking bewildered yet trying to play all cool. That switch in personalities, that role play show what an incredible actor Rajkummar is. In another scene, the sheer vulnerability when he says, Meri maa ke alawa mujhe koi pasand nahi karta made me smile and cry at the same time. When his character says, character pakad ke chall rahe the, you applaud at the smart pun in the line. I think I didn't say it enough- he is brilliant!
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari after giving us an adorable Nil Batte Sanatta weaves magic once again with her crisp direction though this one is more commerical in its scope. The incredible editor Chandrashekhar Prajapati, as always, manages to keep the length of the film in check. Bareilly Ki Barfi is a delicious film brilliantly narrated in Javed Akhtar's voice. If you are not doing anything this weekend, go watch it. If you are already engaged, please cancel your engagements and go and watch it.