Barfi! - Review

wogma rating: Buy the DVD already (?)
quick review:

Everything you'd felt it would be after having seen the promos. Subtle, delightful, sensitive and thoughtful with some wonderful performances. Brings with itself a dream-like world that any lyrical film would.

Reviews

54946 views

Click on the tabs below for wogma review, external reviews, user reviews, and twitter verdict

Wogma Review

Usually, 'sweet' films get overbearing and sticky because of the unreal overdose. But Barfi! carries the charm with such elegance and confidence that you can't but want to go along with it. It's not because the lead characters have handicaps that demand sympathy. The film takes you beyond the most obvious and endears you with the inherent charm and innocence these handicaps bring along with them.

So much so that it makes you wish the plot didn't manipulate and that it got rid of characters who take advantage of their disabilities, however noble their intentions. You wish they didn't take you into the real world that deviates from the sweetness. More so, because they look like aberrations from the unreal and fantasy world of Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) and then Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra).

Barfi! is as dreamy as a film can get. Ranbir and Priyanka play their characters so convincingly that you forget that the film is far from reality. Ileana D'Cruz looks lovely and bring her own share of grace. Just knowing our top-ranking 'stars' take on such challenging and risky roles is joy enough. But watching them give performances that make you forget their star status is way beyond expectations. You realize you were watching Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra when you step out of Barfi and Jhilmil's fairy tale story.

There are times when the romance doesn't seem romantic enough. But when characters cannot express their feelings in words, when there are things that cannot be said, it opens up a whole new world of beautiful questions. Question marks that Barfi represents in just one scene where he breaks down.

It is after you step out of the theater and your analytical brain takes over that you begin to wonder if Jhilmil was over-simplified. If it is indeed so easy to fall in love with an autistic woman? If it was necessary to bring in elements from the 'thriller' genre to this film that is mostly beautiful? Should I let these thoughts take away from the warmth the film created while I was watching it?

At its core, it is ultimately your standard love triangle. Yes, there are a few films that Barfi! reminds you of – Hindi, English and silent. But, like with anything as standard as that, it's how the audience flows with the narrative that makes or breaks the film. And Barfi! doesn't let go of one chance to make you smile. Even if it is rather dark masked behind Ranbir's omnipresent charm.

Neither does Barfi! let go of being melodious. The songs stay soulful and playful together. This once, I didn't mind the background score coming into the foreground and wanting to stay there most of the time. It made Barfi! the lyrical and soothing film that it is.

Other than the light-hearted cloak Anurag Basu's writing garbs the sadness of the characters with, it creates an intriguing atmosphere with it's non-linear narration. The back and forth between the two years in the 70s make the film a lot more engaging, 'thriller' element notwithstanding. As the film closes and you see an increase in the back and forth between the 70s and present time, you wonder if the non-linearity is used to keep you with the tenderness that the film has created and not leave the theater feeling too bad for the characters.

These characters don't want sympathy, they want to engage you in their bizarre story. The dark comedy of errors, the slapstick, the romance itself is captured in a series of captivating moments that keep you smiling throughout the two and half hours. Ever-so-slightly Anurag Basu also comments on the sorry manner in which the mentally disabled are treated with in society.

Who would have known there would be a romantic comedy that I enjoyed, where the romance is sweet, the comedy mostly slapsticky with background music running throughout the film. To top it of, it also had non-linear narration that it could have done without. All elements that put me off a film. Boy, do I like it when a film turns my generalized dislikes into things that I like about the film.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Police beating up an inmate.
  • Language: Silent mostly.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: One lip-to-lip.
  • Concept: A story of love.
  • General Look and Feel: 70s. Light-hearted.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 4
  • Story: 4
  • Lead Actors: 5
  • Character Artists: 3.5
  • Dialogues: 5
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 5
  • Lyrics: 4

Barfi! - Movie Details

Barfi! - Trailer

If you cannot see a video above, click here to see it on YouTube

Comments (51)

Click here for new comment

B.H.Harsh:

I've had my share of apprehensions about the movie ever since its trailer came out. Initially, it looked "too cheery" or feel-good sort (what with Ranbir reprising his Chaplinesque tramp-like persona)

Besides, it seemed as if Basu is now trying to do everything at once - A deaf-mute character in lead, an autistic in 2nd lead, period-setting (an attempt to gain weight?). I mean, it all seemed too gimmicky.

But the song promos have changed my opinion for good. at the very least, it seems to deliver a very original story (Don't know why, 'Forrest Gump' came to my mind :O)

Looking particularly forward to how Ileana performs. Have been a HUGE fan of her girl-next-door personality, ever since I watched Pokiri :D :D

B.H.Harsh:

And How can i forget to mention the title track (Mohit Chauhan version, ofcourse)

Like the trailer, the song too sounded a little too "bubbly". But then I heard the 2nd antara... :-| Hands down, one of the BESTEST composed, written & sung this year. The tragic-comic mood it creates... its just beyond words.

meetu:

@B H Harsh, really? I don't get a 'feel good' feeling from the trailer. I think it's going to be a cheerful kind of a tragedy. Let's see... :) Oh yes, the songs are beautiful!

B.H.Harsh:

"Cheerful kind of tragedy" is a nice way to put that :) Can you recall any other Hindi films that had this quality?

Dwit Monani:

looks too makey makey... lacks reality... Ranbir looks eager to impress and ends up looking as if he is over acting... Priyanka has always been an over actor. Though the movie is set in the 70s Ranbir looks as if he is in the 40s. Over all the message of the movie looks like it goes with the tagline... TOUCH MY HEART AND MAKE ME FART...

meetu:

@Dwit wow! that's harsh, that too before even watching the film! Or did you catch a preview show somewhere? :P

meetu:

@B H Harsh still thinking.

silvan:

Have some expectations from this film, it's Anurag's comeback since a long time
Ranbhir is already on a high and he looks impressive in the promos, Priyanka too seems to gonna give a great perf and Illena looks good

meetu:

@Silvan *fingers crossed*

B.H.Harsh:

A failure. Noble, Interesting, very very Cinematic... and yet a failure.
Over to you... :)

silvan:

Ya surely the film may not work as i doubt it's made for BO. It maybe remembered as SLB's Khamoshi

meetu:

@B H Harsh really? Please elaborate :)

@Silvan here you go, a hindi film that I liked :P

B.H.Harsh:

:D For the moment, I am finding some solace in Raja Sen's review which more-or-less mirrors how I felt about 'Barfi'..
But yea, the final stretch was a huge huge let-down for me. I never expected it to take the usual "who-will-he-end-up-with" route. Also bothering was the unnecessary mystery angle Basu tried to incorporate.

meetu:

Oh I thought it was pretty clear who he was going to end up with. The mystery angle bothered me only after walking out, but while it was on, it made me want to play along. I just thought 'failure' was too strong a word. And Raja Sen did give it 3.5 out of 5. But hey, to each is own, either way! :D

harish iyer:

my o my.. i am so longing to watch this film. and after this review, even more.

i feel fallibleness of such a plot is quite high. and it is quite risky to play a part of this kind.

i had written off Priyanka completely after watching her in practically every advertisement and after that horror called Agneepath. may this film serve as her resuscitation of the bollywood cinema career.

Illeana is fresh as dew.

ranbir! god, i go on record to say that he is the only Actor i know who is the only actor i know. he makes me forget him and remember the character. thats the mark of a true actor.

meetu:

@Harish i have a feeling you are going to like this one. let's see...do let us know :)

B.H.Harsh:

I knowwwwww.... now even I am getting that feeling :P (about 'Failure' being a strong word). But as I was walking out, "This has not succeeded" was all I could think. So there!

meetu:

:)

G-10:

B.H. Harsh and Meetu: It is not a debacle like Kites but it is definitely not a great achievement either. At best it is an ambitious pastiche slow-cooked over audience's patience--where I watched the film, people had started to leave the theater by the middle to second half. Words fail, but audiences' walk-out says a lot!

g-2:

erratum: *middle of second half* ...in the last line of my previous comment.

g-2:

Here's some more on Barfi (Caution: The following comment is full of spoilers)

Barfi: What didn't work for me
--Convoluted story telling; so many seemingly unrelated people reminiscing a guy...there is a sense that these are all connected but not enough clarity prevails

--Mixing of genres: mystery + romance + disability; integration though ambitious was confusing

--Background score (monotonously romantic...reminded me of 'Kites'...which was not a good feeling)

--Excessive dependence on montage; the entire first half is a only a compilation of miniscule sequences that
a) take longer to convey the characters' intrinsic traits which in turn leaves the audience perplexed as to how to/ how much to empathize with the key characters, and
b) make the film/ story seem fragmented thus also making the storytelling seem convoluted...what's more, non-linear is also attempted at the same time...causing momentary interest but eventually adding to the chaos

-- Iliana's 70's hairdo--yes, yes the story is set in 1978 blah blah, but in a period drama there should be other evident period elements than just a wig! Ok there was a grey Fiat/ Ambassador too. So what?

--Coming to think of the hairdo, even the wig for present day Iliana did not work!

Barfi: What worked
--All possible loose ends tied together cleverly at the end, the very end though-- too late for people who got impatient and left the theater in between

--Cameraman conscious of framing PC in a way that her pouty lips were avoided from being too visible, even in close-ups. Thank god!

--Ranbir...saving grace and the sole reason to watch

Verdict: The trailers promised a light and fluffy dessert. However, what was served was a large serving of 'Khichdi' with some sugar syrup. Try imagining the taste. Barfy, right? Barfi at best is a pastiche in which all possible elements of successful cinematic plots are hodgepodged together-- boy meets girl, love triangle, disability, corrupt police, period setting, exotic locales, and non-linear storytelling, -- so the aftertaste is barfy!

silvan:

The movie is simply awesome though it does drag at times but I simply loved it

What worked for me:
Ranbir, Priyanka, several brilliant scenes, good music, Ileana

What didnt:
Length, Ileana's make up for the old person
Was her voice dubbed?

silvan:

People who find such films boring should go and watch EK Tha Tiger again

pankaj:

#Barfi - Seldom comes a movie..which makes u laugh heartily even before the first frame is shown i.e. 'picture shuru' .. the lead who wins hearts without uttering a single dialogue..(well jus a sound of burrrrfeee=E2=80=BC) ...and an audience which is so spellbound tht it breaks in an instant standing ovation..n doesnt rush out thru the closing credits....

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 4
Story: 4
Lead Actors: 4
Character Artists: 4

Dialogues: 4
Screenplay: 4
Music Director: 3.5
Lyrics: 3.5

Ekta Khetan:

I loved this movie and did not agree that it was over the top unrealistic and all that...

Very sensitively made moie and yes few things needs to be enlarged to show a perspective otherwise they end up looking like documentaries. Romance was not flawed...thankfully there were not big sexual undertones either...

I believe thriller part was essential too as it was used to bring in an objective, of an emotion to convey Priyanka's importance in her house and change of sequences where her savior was hold up against her well being. Think, the movie otherwise would be bit boring.

Yup it became a bit long at a point but logically speaking, what else u think could be the climax- to portray victory of good-will and love? :)

My advise, watch the movie without much analysis...in essence of the message it wants to convey...It was a beautiful movie!

meetu:

@g-10/g-2 strange this is...even if I do agree with some of the points you've made (not their explanations) - all of that worked for me. The theater I was in - there was applause at the end and the guy sitting next to me...oh that's a story...so here's this annoying over-enthusiastic, neighbor who gets to you by reading out loud (very loud) all the signboards in the movie backdrop,wants to let the whole theater know how he is loving the film (*eye roll*) and then starts singing along loudly with the title track - at which point I had to tell him that I would like to hear Mohit Chauhan and not him and he asked me to get myself a private screening - I decided to leave the argument there and focus on Ranbir Kapoor :D. Half an hour into the film, silent. His friend asked him in the interval how he's liking the film so far and he says - speechless and stays so through out the film till after the end credits have scrolled.

My point being, I guess there were all kinds of responses to the film.

@Silvan, @Suman :)

g-2:

This is not so much in response to your judgement (because I have come to value it no matter what it is) but mostly in response to the euphoria around Barfi: All I can say is we are still living in an age where stories compel us, not storytelling; Where a little real work is heralded as a big achievement just because no one else likes to deliver us real work; When PC does a little more than a 'thumka' we all melt; When a director ODs on mush, we call it an epic; When he mixes genres we call him a genius and so on. As discerning audience we must be giving these guys a run for their money. Instead we like to get carried away by this one thing or the other. I want to applaud Basu and team too, but I would rather wait till they give us pure cinema not concoctions in the name of cinema.

meetu:

@g-2 I didn't take it as that either. I was just surprised at my reactions to your comments. At almost each point, I was like, "yes, but...that's what I liked the film."

And, ouch, "PC does a little more than a 'thumka'" - is that all that she did in ? Really? :(

About 'little real work being heralded as big achievement' - hmmm...i've wondered about that - is it because we have such few 'quality' films coming our way that we lap up anything 'different'. But then, I have realized I am largely incapable of comparing films. I end up taking the film for how it made me feel during those couple hours and the after taste. I really wonder if this were an Iranian or a French film, how would the people who didn't like it, react to it?

Also, just like treating little real work as a big achievement isn't good, wanting every film to be the best is a little unfair too, nahi? I'd take 10 above average films and 1 awesome/great film a year than have only 1 awesome/great film. They are trying, our 'stars' are going out of their comfort zone when they don't really need to, isn't that great?

Yes, if you say that that's what they are supposed to do anyways and don't need an extra applause for that, I understand the sentiment. We should all do our jobs to the best of our capabilities and why should we expect to be appreciated for that? That's one way of looking at it too.

But, I love to say out loud when something entertains/engages/intrigues me, even if it is what they were supposed to do anyway. Haan, if like you said it did nothing for you, it did nothing for you. Hopefully, some other time. :D

Aditto:

Oh what a movie! I really loved watching it. Even before I could try for those sad scenes, I would get a smile on my face thanks to the wonderfully interleaved happy scenes. Awesome music too. This is also the first time I have appreciated Priyanka Chopra as an actor!

The movie reminded me so much of Korean movies, Majid Majidi's movies, French movie Amelie, that it almost seemed like an amalgamation of all those movies! Definitely a pride of anyone's DVD shelf!

Aditya:

Oops, I meant to write the following in the second sentence:
Even before I could "cry" for those sad scenes, I would get a smile on my face thanks to the wonderfully interleaved happy scenes.

Sejal:

I am so in love with this movie. I watched this at Wave Cinemas day before and enjoyed it so much. It was sweet yet so realistic. I kept my fingers crossed throughout the movie as I didn't want any bad ending. And to my relief, the movie had a perfect ending. Simply amazing!

Jitaditya:

Not a bad film but would not call it great. I think g2/g10 has covered some of my issues...

But more than that, what was disturbing me was scores of "inspired" scenes. One or tow scenes can be considered either coincidences or tributes but with so many from so many different films, it is difficult to appreciate.

& no I wasnt trying hard to find flaws... but I was repeatedly being reminded of various other films I'd seen before...

P:

Hi Meetu,

I have quietly been reading your reviews for a year now and I trust your judgement so much!
You make me appreciate movies and have taught me to watch movies with a different perspective.

I would have loved to see a Notepad section on Barfi.

Aditya:

Hello..
I think I need to comment again :( :)
I am quite surprised to see the videos coming up on the internet showing the scenes copied exactly from various movies.

In this regard, I think the movie is still wonderful and great for an average Indian audience who do not have access to world cinema.

Now for those of us who have watched Amelie, the Notebook, a few Korean movies and Charlie Chaplin, would definitely be disappointed at the screenplay director's lack of innovation or creativity.

This will certainly pull down the score of screenplay or cinematography for this movie, and maybe even Music.

Lastly, sending this movie to the Oscars is a terrible idea as it will bring down Indian movies' credibility at world stage. People look up to Bollywood, and they will now look down!

Again, for an Indian audience, it is still the best movie of the year!

Silvan De Souza:

No notepad for this review? why?

Vishal:

Shiit !! 90% of those bits and pieces that make you smile are copy paste. Thats cheating. Guess its because Director works closely with Pritam !!

meetu:

@Jitadiya, @Aditya, @Vishal it is rather disappointing and you can but feel cheated after you have seen some of the frame-by-frame copies. Some of the scenes were obviously inspired from Chaplin and I was ok with it while watching the film, but some of the other scenes is just not done. :( But, I guess if with my knowledge of films, if I enjoyed what I saw, I enjoyed what I saw. :)

@P Thank you!! Yet, we have a lot more to learn...

@P @ Silvan yeah, I didn't get around to doing it then and now I guess it is a bit too late. Especially considering what I liked will most likely be a lift off from somewhere else :(

Firat Dilbaz:

Dear all we are very happy to releasing the Amazing Barfi at Turkey.

TimELiebe:

Honestly, Meetu? I didn't like most of this at all - the attempts at Chaplinesque Laughing-Through-Tears made me comment to my wife and friends, at more than one point, that if I'd wanted my heart warmed, I'd have had it torn it out of my chest and served it on a flaming skewer! I also didn't like how the movie wants us to be on Barfi's side even though I could hardly blame the Police Inspector for whacking the tar out of him every time we cut back to that storyline! I know it's supposed to be a fairy tale, but I was not sufficiently uplifted by the events and most of the performances to be transported - Ranbir Kapoor, in particular, was trying 'way too hard to be an Endearingly Poignant Little Engine of Comedic Destruction for my tastes.

But - and this is a big one - there's Priyanka Chopra's performance that almost elevates the movie to a Must Watch despite everything else. I'm not kidding when I say I didn't even recognize her, and completely bought into her character - I was going, "Who's this young girl they got? She's got potential!" I didn't think she overacted at all, but was spot-on - I think if she can show this kind of range again, Ms. Chopra might be at a Kajol level of acting talent.

So - one mostly annoying movie with one stunning performance. How do I rate that…?

meetu:

@TimELiebe a not-so-nice rating for the film with a caveat?

TimELiebe:

@Meetu - yes, very much so. I would have given this film a Thumbs Down if not for Ms. Chopra's amazing performance.

I will say my opinion is not shared by everybody who watched this movie with me - Bruce Coville and Cynthia Bishop (you know them on Facebook), and my kid brother Craig loved it! But Tammy pretty much agreed with me, as did Bruce's daughter-in-law Charlotte - and Bruce's wife Kathy seemed very ambivalent, if not as openly displeased. It was a very Love-It-Or-Hate-It movie for all of us - so I guess maybe it succeeded at some level?

I will say that it succeeded in creating a perfect updated version of a silent comedy universe where these events could possibly happen - a bit of Chaplin, a bit of Jacques Tati. It's just I've never been a fan of Chaplin's more maudlin work, and while I admire Tati's work I don't enjoy it that much - it feels like film school to me. Of course, one of my favorite recent comedies is GOLMAAL RETURNS - so you can see where my bar for comedy is set! :D

meetu:

@TimELiebe ouch!

TimELiebe:

;) Yeah, Meetu - I'm part of the "beer & curry" audience that keeps the GOLMAAL series, and films like ROWDY RATHORE, successful.

I'm an American - I thought you knew by now I have execrable taste when it comes to Indian cinema. :) Maybe in a decade or so, I'll have seen enough crowd-pleasers and timepasses to seek out a better class of film, but for now Indian movies are still a wonderland of beautiful people, improbable plots and amazing song&dance; numbers….

meetu:

@TimELiebe oh well...

TimELiebe:

PS to Priyanka Chopra's Impressive Acting Chops: Did you know she's doing a US television series, Quantico - where she plays American FBI agent "Alex Parrish"...?

I don't know whether to be happy for her - or appalled that they're Whitewashing her character.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4428122/

meetu:

@TimELiebe Yeah, I heard. Haven't seen the preview of the show yet. Somehow, not too inclined either.

TimELiebe:

PPS: Quantico has been airing in the US since the Fall - oh, brother.

Priyanka Chopra running around with her magnificent mane of dark hair not remotely hidden by a baseball cap, totally made up and stunningly beautiful, slipping through FBI security checkpoints as she tries to clear her name of treason for a bombing? Added to flashbacks of the stupidest "agent training" ever, that mostly seems designed to get these trainees to turn on each other? Even by US television standards, this show is stupid - and offensive, since the first ten episodes of the series have every Born-in-the-US person knee-jerk assuming she has to be a "terrorist" because she's, well, From The Middle East...Or India...Or Someplace Over There That's Not Europe....

Times like this, I despair for my country.

meeta:

@TimELiebe As it turns out we watched season 1 and somehow didn't feel like watching season 2 even though the daughter has it recorded and ready. She loves it, what can you say about being at the very impressionable age of 12?

TimELiebe:

That your daughter is twelve, and Priyanka Chopra is a goddess who gets to run very fast and shoot a gun a lot in America, @Meeta? All the while without having to cut her hair or smear her perfect makeup - even though she's so remarkably beautiful that you'd think every guy here would remember her just for that?

She's not the role model you'd pick for your daughter - but Ms. Chopra's Alex getting to be an action hero on television every week is definitely a role model for Southern Asian girls, who rarely get to see women who look like them kick butt and look great doing it. It's kind of like Tammy's female heroes - yes, they're largely women warriors (and a few fighting mages) so they tend to solve problems by hitting them on the head with a sword, but they're getting to do "boy things" and be good at it so they inspire girls.

meeta:

@TimELiebe aah! don't even get me started on this whole girl thing and boy thing. hmph!

Leave a new comment