Many would have predicted the success of ‘Barfi!’ much before its release. However, undoubtedly, some cynics may not have expected it to do quite as well as it has. Now that the movie has released and also been selected at India’s official entry in the Oscars, BizAsia looks into how the film has achieved a balance that rarely exists in Bollywood of achieving the love of critics and the audiences. Although expectations were high for all, why exactly has ‘Barfi!’ seen this kind of success and why has is captured the audiences’ hearts in the way that it has? Here goes out list of reasons, in no particular order…
Simplicity that speaks volumes – Nobody would argue that ‘Barfi!’ comes with a complicated plot and a set of difficult-to-understand characters. The kind of simplicity incorporated in the characters and also the story is one which can be enjoyed by a 4-year-old child as well as an 80-year-old grandparent. There are no overly negative characters and neither are there too many dramatic changes or hugely memorable dialogues. Instead what there are are loveable scenes, light-hearted moments and characters that subtlely make��their way into one’s heart as the film progresses.
The magic of Ranbir Kapoor – Those who will have watched ‘Barfi!’ will say that Kapoor was by far one of the best things about the film. One cannot see any other actor in this role and that’s half the battle won right there. There are obvious and very viable comparisons one can make with Kapoor’s grandfather, the legendary Raj Kapoor. There is a very earthy, heart-warming and selflessness that Kapoor brings to the protagonist.��It is by��far his best role to date.
Unforgettable scenes – This is perhaps one of the most important in the list. Without memories, one will find it exceptionally difficult for the striking of a chord with the audiences. ‘Barfi!’ has a very many scenes which are, quite simply, outstanding. Whether it be when Murphy finds out his ladylove, Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz), is soon to to be wed and they both come out in the rain where he lays his heart out or whether it be when both Murphy and Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) are travelling by cart on a toy train track only to come face-to-face with a train; ‘Barfi!’ is full of little moments that almost make you sad when the film comes to an end.
The elegance of newcomer Ileana D’Cruz – Although this wasn’t D’Cruz’s out and out debut in front of the camera, she has taken Bollywood by storm. It’s perhaps hard to pinpoint exactly why because it seems as if the role of Shruti couldn’t have been more perfect for her to make her mark. One can argue that the beauty of D’Cruz come in the way she carries herself in a film which has two other stars who could have so easily overshadowed her to invisibility. She catches the eye because she just as easily fits into the in-love-and-unable-to-show-it bride to be role��as well as easing into the role of the��wife whose heart isn’t exactly with her husband.
The rebirth of Priyanka Chopra – Arguably, she is an actress who is known to be able to carry a film solely on her shoulders but in ‘Barfi!’, Chopra is simply magical. Her rendition as Jhilmil, who is autistic,��leaves you laughing and also with tears in your eyes. She manages to be innocent, playful and child-like in a way you would never imagine her to be��what with an��otherwise glamourous appearance she is known and admired for.
Anurag Basu is back – For a director whose last outing, ‘Kites’ (2010), was left unappreciated by the Indian audience,��Basu has very much taken the bull by the horns with ‘Barfi!’. Best known for his hard-hitting and dramatic directing style, Basu has somewhat managed��to survive outside of his comfort zone and give ‘Barfi!’ a beautiful overall treatment. Set in the 1970s and present day,��he��takes the audiences to Darjeeling in a way which can only be said��to be charming. The charm seaps through in his delivery of the characters who, despite their differences, give you an unplanned but true love story in all its perfect, innocent and sweet��glory.
Nostalgic Darjeeling – As if the 1970s feel wasn’t enough, the portrayal of the cloudy Darjeeling makes the film feel, quite frankly, as if the community is residing on a cloud. Ravi Varman, cinematographer, should take full credit for this feeling that ‘Barfi!’ leaves creeping up on you. Varman gives a slight and soft nudge to the welcome dreamy, green and historic West Bengal. It makes you think this is the stuff dreams is made off; thick layers of fog, a beautiful sunset, the green hills… Whichever way you look at it, Varman creates quite a backdrop of Darjeeling.
Effective ensemble cast – One of the most significant things about any given film is to have the right supporting cast who play their characters with such perfection that one almost doesn’t notice that they are acting too. ‘Barfi!’ has an ensemble cast who, in their own right, evoke emotion in the audience. Rupa Ganguly elegantly plays the role of Shruti’s mother whose real love isn’t her husband and Saurabh Shukla also renders the role of��a police officer who spends most of his life running after Murphy with just as much��perfection. These two aren’t the be all and end all because it is the full team that contributes to an outstanding script and treatment.
Soundtrack and background score��by Pritam – A film like ‘Barfi!’ needs a very melody-filled soundtrack and background score which is representative of the plot’s moments and the character’s journeys. With Kapoor’s deaf-mute character, the background score becomes all the more important in showcasing his feelings in various circumstances. Pritam achieves this to absolute perfection in the��background score and it’s safe to say that if none of the soundtrack impressed you much before you see the film, it will definitely leave you humming after you’ve seen it. This perhaps signifies all that is good about the music and how it serves alongside a light-hearted and touching story.
Endless lessons and��cliches – The final point in this list couldn’t be more apt. ‘Barfi!’ leaves you thinking about the cliches that life presents you with. This not a criticism but more something that ‘Barfi!’ brings home. There are parts of the story which one will be most familiar with – perhaps from International cinema – but, on the whole, the lessons��are what make up the essence of ‘Barfi!’. Having said that, the lessons the film teaches you are also essential in its overall treatment.
Although one can’t escape the scenes that are heavily inspired by world cinema, one also is unable to deny that ‘Barfi!’ is��the first of its kind��for Indian cinema. The magic that comes with the film is shown in the reasons above and whether the film makes it to the Oscars shortlist or not, it will remain a film which is special because it’s brought a whole different genre with it. In the same way, it would be wrong to say that such a film could not be made better but sometimes weaknesses are what experimental cinema is all about. Hats off to Team ‘Barfi!’, may your hard work shine bright at the Oscars and beyond.