His name is Murphy. But, you see, he’s speech-impaired, so it sounds like Barfi when he says it. And how cute is that, right? If you’ve seen the posters of Barfi! — a montage of expressions rendered by the film’s lead actor, Ranbir Kapoor — you should have a pretty good idea what the movie’s tone will be like: determinedly, exaggeratedly cheery and feel-good.
Well, at least it’s not what you might expect in a film that goes to town with disabilities: one lead character is hearing- and speech-impaired and another is autistic. The risk is, of course, that it will end up too saccharine-coated.
The story, set in the 1970s, in a hill-station, has Barfi falling in love with a pretty girl (Ileana D’Cruz) but losing her when her parents convince her to marry another man and lead a ‘normal’ life. Barfi goes on to fall in love again — this time with an autistic girl, Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra). The problems that love story runs into lead to the climax.
What makes this film promising is its combination of lead actors Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra and director Anurag Basu. Forgive Basu, if you can, for that mish-mash called Kites, think of it as an aberration (which it was) and look instead at his earlier movies like Life In A Metro, Gangster and Murder. The first was a terrific movie; the other two were not as good but certainly streets ahead of the templated Hindi film.
Priyanka Chopra is among our better actresses and, though she will have to fight comparisons with Sridevi’s Sadma, let’s hope she turns in a decent performance. As for Ranbir Kapoor, he is the most accomplished young star we have today, an actor who takes his craft and pedigree seriously. He has not disappointed in any of his films, whatever their quality. Granted, he’s already done the cheery number in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, but let’s not hold that against him. What he will do without dialogues in this film should be interesting to watch, even if turns out to be somewhat over-the-top.
The same could be said of the director and the film. Barfi! could be an outing worth your money if you’re ready to handle what could be an emotional overload.
Bottomline: Ready to handle what could be an emotional overload?
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ileana D’Cruz
Director: Anurag Basu
Releases: September 14