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Befikre: From ‘Never say I love you’ to ‘I love you’

The parents of the free-spirited heroine Shyra (Vaani Kapoor) in Befikre, could well be the aged Raj and Simran of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge, who have settled down in Paris after negotiating with the stern, pigeon-feeding, India-loving Bauji. But unlike their own parents, they have brought up their daughter without the baggage of being Indian. Why, they even packed peanut butter sandwiches in her school lunchbox, instead of aloo parantha! All this so she could belong. So Shayra is not Indian—neither by birth, nor passport; and certainly not at heart—and proclaims it aloud: “Main hamesha se French hoon.”

Almost two decades after giving us DDLJ , the wholesome, nostalgic-for-India NRI blockbuster, which was all about dreaming of Ludhiana in London, Chopra gives us a brand new set of parents, who instead of asserting their authority, stand at the periphery of their daughter’s life admitting that it is she who has brought them up than the other way round. A boyfriend who does “pairi pauna in Paris” might warm the cockles of their heart as much as chai and pakode, a live-in relationship might not exactly please them but they are aware of the larger truth—that they are in Paris after all, not Patiala.

If that’s not enough the Dilli, nay Karol Bagh, boy Dharam (Ranveer Singh) goes fully pugnacious with the play on “Incredible India” and that always sacrosanct Indian feeling called “Maa ki Mamta”. Radical? A sweeping change in mainstream Hindi cinema? Well, ultimately Befikre, like DDLJ, is also a love story and how much can you experiment with it? At the end of the day, however vague it might be, love will remain that same old warm and fuzzy feeling. What Chopra does try to do is to overturn the “falling in friendship” and “falling in love” graph of contemporary romantic films—as recent as Ae Dil Hai Mushkil—into a “hookup, sex and lust” to “friendship” to “love” progression. An ode to the urban, Tinder generation, perhaps.

Love is still defined by a cap, but it has come a long way from Bhagyashree’s “Friendship” headgear in Maine Pyaar Kiya to Shayra’s “Who Cares Mon Amour (Who Cares My Love)”. It’s a love that doesn’t believe in saying “I Love You” because that would ostensibly mean “masti ka the end”. Millennial love, it seems, has to be about being playful, having fun, especially when it comes to carnal matters and a baser passion. It’s not about waiting for your guy to turn back and give you that heart-melting look. That was 90s, says the heroine. Love is all about checking out his posterior. Love grows from one dare to another. It is about celebrating the anniversary of a breakup than of being together. At times Befikre feels like a Hollywood film—in its humour, in its overtly smart-sharp attitude, in how it’s built around trifles—the little, throwaway episodes in the journey of an evolving relationship.

Singh and Kapoor fit in well. One is the irritating but oddly likeable man-boy, other an impetuous girl who will eventually settle down, who will take her mom’s advice on the most important decision in her life, but by exploiting her “French” side. Together they go through well with the motions—be it kissing (just seven-eight times), taking their clothes off, calling each other names, learning to live with each other’s loo habits or going double dating with their new lovers.

The end is obvious. So it is about paranthas winning over peanut butter, even though they may have been rolled with a wine bottle than a rolling pin? Yes and not quite. It is about giving in to love and saying “Je t’aime” (I love you) after singing all about “Ne dis jamis je t’aime” (Never say I love you). It is about seeking the “happily ever after” feeling in marriage. Love is still that predictable leap of faith as it has always been for many for centuries. What the film does try is to remain unpredictable and breezy in its expression of it. It tries to hold back from wallowing in the traditional, even as it posits the time-honoured and conventional as a solution. It tries to keep us smiling, even the emotional moments play out casually and are not about giving in to sentiments. And it tries to give us new lessons in love.

The most important for someone of my vintage was that love is bungee jumping than the long drive that I had always assumed it to be. No wonder the largely young audience walked out of the film, laughing away, while I was mooning over the lovely, romantic lines of the song ‘Labon Ka Karobar’: “Jebon mein bikhre hain taare, khali hua aasman; Haathon mein dhoop hai mere, barfeela baaki jahan.”  Love then, most of all, is a many splendoured thing. To each their own.

Befikre

  • Director: Aditya Chopra
  • Starring: Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor
  • Bottomline: Playfulness, fun and dare might set apart his imagining of millennial amour but twenty years down the line,  Aditya Chopra is still telling
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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 10:47:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/Befikre-From-%E2%80%98Never-say-I-love-you%E2%80%99-to-%E2%80%98I-love-you%E2%80%99/article16783744.ece

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