Finely executing an even finer written script is the mastermind Anurag Basu who puts forth a sensory treat in the form of Barfi. One of the plot establishing shots that has Ranbir in a close-up staring innocently at the camera, with the Murphy radio in the background and blurting ‘Barfi!’- and I instantly know I am going to fall in love with this movie.
Ranbir epitomizes what’s probably last of this generation’s innocence and naughtiness, all rolled into one. He doesn’t act, he spills his soul into every frame. You don’t think with Barfi; you feel.
It is a wonderful coincidence then that Barfi opens with a sequence of the police arresting him, very much as in Rockstar. Too charming is his crime, to exist and deliver in that form is no less than divine. The movie displays undercurrents of various chaplinesque moments that tickle and you are perpetually smiling through the first half. What sets the tone of the movie is the opening jingle-ish song that goes ‘Ho gayi picture shuru’ and you are already smiling. You could call it a tragedy through the comic lens of the protagonists, who you would suppose are suffering from ‘not being normal’ but then you realise, it is quite a celebration, this ‘not being normal’.
Love found, love lost, love found again. Barfi, like they say, does not think, he feels. So brilliantly written is this character, that he may be as witty as you and may be even smarter than you. And at no point does his deaf-mutism make you wonder if he is likeable or not. You just instantly like this man and his shenanigans. And then falling for Ileana is not too difficult either – encasing the old-world charm effortlessly and switching perfectly between the vacation and the marital roles, the casting couldn’t have been better.
Priyanka is another wonder, she could actually pass off for a 15-year old with her curious searching eyes and her child-like mannerisms. Jhilmil is someone you want to take care of and protect from the world; the best part about being her is that she will never grow up; that virtuousness will always live, the untainted approach to every new thing lives – be it reacting to a fluttering butterfly or watching the world upside down through a glass globe - Jhilmil breathes innocence into every frame.
The direction without a doubt is impeccable and handled with extreme care. Each frame has this warm tinge, a sparking ray of sunshine either mirroring or staring from the background into the lens, adding a certain balmy character to the frame, pat on the back to cinematographer Ravi Varman. What stays with me is the early dawn shot, of the black-blue jungle swarming with a couple of lightened-jugnus being captured into bubbles. I mean, who could have thought of that?
The performances entice, but the music is the soul of the film. For a movie crawling on narration and minimal dialogues, the music has a fairly major part to play and Pritam delivers. He jolts you into the story with surprising smoothness, the French inspired chaplinesque background score meets circus swings harmonica and they live happily ever after. Like Basu said, the songs convey what the characters would have wanted to say, if they could. To foresee this union in this perfect sense is a mean feat and Anurag by those lines proves to be a great visionary. While ‘Main kya karun’ makes you dance, ‘Aashiyan’ makes you smile and ‘Phir le aaya dil’, well, makes you cry. There are scenes when you are smiling but also holding back tears because the emotion is heartbreaking yet beautiful. Incomplete, and yet complete, in a lot of ways.
I experienced Barfi, not once, but twice. The first time, I was too shocked to write; the second time, I am still struggling for words. Barfi, is not a movie, it is an experience. Go, watch!