Bollywood movies generally evoke an image of glamour, raw pseudo-superhero action, or silly comedies. But now and again, a genuine gem of movie comes out – with a story so simple, so beautiful, that you can’t help but feel proud of the Indian cinema. In this age of masala, ‘Barfi!’ is a rare movie which soothes your palate with a simple, but strong story.
One of the most significant attribute of the movie is the lack of words. The story is told by the soundtrack that is placed front and center in absence of words and the excellent performances of Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D’Cruz. The mute performances and experiences of the cast is strong enough to leave you dumb. The bulk of the movie is narrated in flashbacks and the characters themselves do not speak more than they have to. One of the most impressive scenes where this is apparent is an interaction between two police officers. The dialogues in this scene are bare, to the point and lack all the masala of the zabardast dialogues prevalent in the cinema.
The performances and the soundtrack brings the story to a poetic level. Each character struggle, personal choice, choice between right and wrong, is shown with incredible depth. While Ranbir Kapoor (Barfi) and Priyanka Chopra (Jhilmil) play difficult roles of differently abled people, Ileana D’Cruz (Shruti) plays the complicated role of a woman who just happened to cross Barfi’s path and fell in love. Her struggle to choose between a normal life lacking depth in love or a adventurous, romantic life giving up on all social norms is especially intense.
Set in the beautiful landscapes of Darjeeling and busy, active streets of Kolkata, the story contrasts the lives of Barfi and Jhilmil against Shruti’s life. The imagery helps convey the depth of the characters themselves and lends a picturesque backdrop to the story. The movie starts on a very gloomy note and lives through happiness in flashbacks. It builds up as a tragedy with a few comic moments and the performances help you feel, not just see the pain of the characters and the hard choices on them. In spite of this, the movie hardly ever feels cheesy except for brief, forgivable moments.
One of other significant attributes of this movie is that it does not even attempt to be a documentary. The movie is just that – story of Barfi. Nothing more. The story attempts to show differently abled people on the same level as everyone and apart from the story reference, the movie does not portray lives or efforts of any institution to help people get back in the world.
The only point that could be construed as negative was the length of the movie. While not very long, the movie could have left some parts unsaid and possibly made for an even more poetic ending.
The movie leaves you with a complete sense of happiness. Pure happiness! And the end won’t matter, the people won’t matter, society doesn’t matter. All that mattered is your choices. Like the closing of a poem, the movie left me complete, yet incomplete and in utter satisfaction and happiness.