wogma rating: Watch, but no rush (?)
The stargiri is truly a huge put-off. So bad that even though the dialogues have a consistent, fresh bounce and Billu starts of as an interesting character, it falls flat as the film progresses. Human emotions can keep you glued as long as there's some movement in them. Just Irrfan's brilliant facial muscle movement does not suffice. Simple, at-times sweet but predictable too.Read more
NOT A REVIEW - just wondering if snipping 'barber' from the title will chop the story/humor, if any...
The stage is set for this friendship tale with acting by Irrfan Khan, dance-routine from Shah Rukh Khan and his ladies, and marketing courtesy Salon and Beauty Parlors’ Association.
It's extremely interesting that Shah Rukh Khan's home production is doing a film with Irrfan Khan. I mean commerce meets art. Pretty cool. Irrfan will emote and Shah Rukh will do the slo-mo entries, play himself, and all that jazz. Everyone is happy. Except for a few like me who can't handle it when he plays himself. But we're a minority. So, let division of labor and specialization take over.
Also, isn't it good in a way that an Irrfan starrer is promoted by Shah Rukh? More people will watch and hopefully admire Irrfan. Maybe 3-4 movies down the line Irrfan would have multiplied his following by a huge factor. Shame that we need a Shah Rukh to do that, but so be it.
But, then again the last Priyadarshan movie that delivered a decent laugh was Hungama. That was 6 years ago.
Meanwhile as is in vogue these days, we have the
barbers hairdressers getting offended by the original title. So, Shah Rukh gracefully took the "offensive" word off -
Billu has been made with good feelings about love and goodness. If it is hurting somebody, let me not do it.
Also turns out other words meaning hairdresser - hajaam, nai - are going to be beeped out. Tch-tch-tch. There goes the last hope of having any reality.
On the other hand, Irrfan has been working hard to get it right -
Not hair-styling, mind you. I don't want to learn the barber's art from some posh salon in a 7-star hotel ... The bonafide barbers hold the scissors in a different manner and the way they hold the customer's hair is different. ... As soon as I finish learning I'll probably cut Shah Rukh Khan's hair.
Here's hoping some of that humor passes on to the film too. And of course, the research too. Ahem.
- meeta, a part of the audience
"Look at me people, I am the star, who needs police protection". "Hey...even if you can't see me, you won't miss the star who offends politicians... that's ...ME!"
Even if the credit rolls claim that Shah Rukh Khan's appearance in Billu is only incidental, each frame has a heavy Shah Rukh aftertaste along with posters and songs from almost all his movies. When he's not on screen, awe for his character (Sahir Khan) is persistently thrown around. And Sahir is so strinkingly similar to Shah Rukh that it's hard to think of him as Sahir. And this feels like you are having Shah Rukh for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That is, you are choked up to your throat with the adulation for him. The boasting needs some serious toning down.
Sure, modesty is for losers and kings don't need to be humble. Especially when humility is left to the other character, Billu. Yes, the story is about Billu - his diffidence, his friendship, his dignity. Irrfan plays it with such intensity that this simple, believable character gets me attached to him. Unfortunately, the attachment is not used any further. It just lays hanging out there for the most predictable thing to happen.
This is the bane of a high-profile production house film. You know how it's going to end. So what's left to the writers is to engross you with how it gets there. No number of item numbers with superstars in bikini bras can replace the need for a strong conflict and a charming resolution. The climax does have its emotional peak but it gets there only after a few eye-rolls through a long, long spiel. And it wouldn't have worked one-bit if it weren't for Irrfan's confused, dazed eyes.
Just like the village-fool Billu, endears himself to you, the witty dialogues stick a smile on to your face for a good length of the first half. It begins to wear out slowly but never fades away completely. It does carry its share of sms-forward jokes but it's such a relief to see Priyadarshan restrain himself from the usual loudness his recent films carry. It also doesn't hover around side-issues and sticks to its very basic plot.
He also comments on this star-struck nation we are. How we use this star-craziness to make our uninteresting life meaningful. And in this crowd there can be a simple person who is content with what he has. Yet the crowd won't let him live in peace. They'll make a hullaboo, create havoc, belittle him and make him doubt himself. We also have a potential answer to the recession. Get a movie-shoot going in every corner of the world. Not a bad idea! I, for one, will not complain.
But, the down-to-earth character is surrounded not only by characters with superficial needs but also with artificial surroundings. The houses and other surroundings are painted and then color corrected/saturated to give a very synthetic feel to the already orchestrated frames. They take away from the otherwise possibly earthy look a film set in the interiors of the country could have carried.
Though Lara Dutta as Billu's wife is convincing by her performance, she doesn't gel with the village milieu. Mostly because of the way she's dressed up. While a lot of it has to do with how differently her sari is draped from the other villagers, the almost-backless blouse is a certain giveaway. Even the supposedly-carelessly done hair looks composed.
Anyway, you have Shah Rukh mocking himself and the films he works in, but lately we've seen him do that often enough. Who am I to doubt that an entire village can go crazy with a film actor showing up in their vicinity? I'll buy that. But don't choke me with it.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Phylis J Iqbal, desi hits : ...The movie seems to be a little boring in the beginning. It almost feels like it is reaching for a plot and yet by the end this feeling disappears.... full review
Thumbs up, by Vandana K Mittal, merinews : ...Asrani to Rajpal Yadav to Om Puri, to child actors and other assorted characters in minor roles there is a treasure trove here of roles well enacted... full review
Thumbs up, Movie Talkies : ...he film's story is very simple and it has a heart tugging quality about it which lifts it from its ordinariness and makes it a very good film, if not an excellent one.... full review
Thumbs up, by Ashok Nayak, Now Running.com : ...Billu is a typical Priyadarshan film (thankfully without the loudness this time around) with its share of Khatta Meeta (Sweet and Sour) moments,... full review
Thumbs up, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Radio Sargam : ...The film is much appealing from all respects and what makes it more scrumptious is the finale portion when the superstar harks back to his childhood friendship... full review
So-So, by Noyon Jyoti Parasara, AOL INDIA : ...The script could have been more solid if efforts were made to cut out the songs and replace with an actual story in a film inside film format.... full review
So-So, by Sanjay Ram, Business of Cinema : ...With on the surface characters, the film really does not delve into the background of the characters; something which Kuselan to a certain extent did.... full review
So-So, by Udita Jhunjhunwala, DNA : ...Surprisingly for a Shah Rukh Khan film, while the songs are visually grand and the cameos a nice gimmick, the music and choreography are disappointing.... full review
So-So, by Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times : ...Though the film has its share of stock characters, maudlin and over-the-top moments and sags in the latter half, there’s also good story-telling, some great acting, and a healthy dose of masala in the item numbers.... full review
So-So, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...Billu Barber works smoothly as a simple, moral tale, its charm interrupted every time the director goes for broader, more 'commercial' appeal. But it's enjoyable and heart-felt too... full review
So-So, by Subhash K Jha, Now Running.com : ...The two actors at the core of the conflict play their parts with such empathy you forgive and forget the excesses in the earlier parts of the narrative where the star-fan relationship was converted into a melee of caricatural encounters.... full review
So-So, by Jahan Bakshi, Now Running.com : ...Billu is simplistically told, and justificably so- but it lacks the heart-tugging warmth and charm that makes the mythological story so irresistable... full review
So-So, by Bhargav Saikia, Planet Bollywood : ...Billu is that kind of a film which defies the practice of good filmmaking and is solely aimed to rake in the moolah while the initial hype lasts.... full review
So-So, by Raja Sen, Rediff : ...Shah Rukh Khan's [Images] latest production is a simplistic, well-meaning take on a familiar story, and Billu -- perhaps inadvertently -- ends up being a naive little children's film... full review
So-So, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...The cast does well. Irrfan is remarkably restrained as usual. Lara is a pleasant departure from her glam roles. SRK drips charm in every shot. And still, the film doesn’t affect you.... full review
So-So, Zee News : ...‘Billu’ is both an original and honest film. It sucks where it is original, and where the sequences are snipped straight out of the Malayalam version, they are honest.... full review
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
Barber Billu's (Irrfan Khan's) long-lost friend Sahir (Shah Rukh Khan) is now a film star with a huge fan following. Sahir happens to be in Billu's village for a film shoot. The whole village is ecstatic that Billu knows Sahir, but is he?