Saturday, September 15, 2012


Barfi! (2012) on IMDb
Note 1: Go watch it.

Note 2: Go watch it again. Like I am going to.

I love love-stories. Stories of love that are pure at heart, and charming, and innocent. Stories of love that fill your heart with such warmth, that you come out after watching a movie and start seeing the world in a slightly different light than before. There are very few such stories made for the screen. The kind of love I am talking about here is when two people are in love, and they can just be together. I am talking about effortless love. Putting that on screen is no mean feat. Such movies which really impacted me are few - 'Wall·E', 'Up', 'Once', 'Pan's Labyrinth'. 2 animated, 1 Spanish, 1 Irish. I loved 'Amélie', but I felt it fell a little short of something, I don't know what. Which also brings me to Hindi movies. I want to watch Hindi movies, because Hindi movies can affect me at a deeper level than a movie in any other language ever can. I long to watch Hindi movies because of where I come from, because it can be closer to who I am, because of the natural connect and the feeling of belonging it can offer.

Kyon naa hum tum
Chalein tedhe medhe se raston pe nange paanv re

I love it when love is expressed not in words. It's just expressed, with such truth and honesty that you begin to experience it yourself. 'Wall·E' had almost no dialogues for a good part of the movie, which made it so much more romantic. 'Barfi!' belongs to that rare class of movies that go there.

What a masterpiece Anurag Basu has delivered! Each frame is a painting on the celluloid canvas, crafted with such love, and passion for making good cinema. The colors are magnificent. The setting is apt. The iconography is spot-on. The detailing is extensive. The cinematography is beautiful. The scenes stick with you. They have put a lot of thought into little things. Little things, such that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The director has kept everything subtle. Nothing is in-your-face. It respects your intelligence. It assumes "We don't need to explicitly explain it to our audiences, they will get it." This is not something Indian film-makers are accustomed to. Considering the subject, not once does it get preachy, and still manages to get a very strong idea across.

Dabe dabe paaon se; aaye haule-haule zindagi
Hothon pe kundi chadhaa ke, hum taale lagaa ke

I was concerned that Ranbir Kapoor's antics in the first half-n-hour of the movie would go stale as the movie progresses, and oh boy did they prove that wrong! The director manages to delight, amuse, and surprise in such clever ways, that you are left wanting for more. I long for movies made in our country that exploit the huge opportunity India's diversity presents (think 'Gangs of Wasseypur'). It felt like I was transported straight into a Ruskin Bond story. The fractured narrative is done masterfully, without it seeming forced or confusing at any point in time. It enhanced the story-telling so much more. The writing is intact in the second half. Such a satisfying watch! It's difficult not to get a lump in your throat as the movie ends. Such a teary-eyed happy feeling. Good times for Indian cinema.

Saawali si raat ho
Khamoshi ka saath ho
Barfi ke tukde sa; Chandaa dekhoa aadha hai

The performances are rock-solid. I did not like Ranbir Kapoor earlier. Not that I have seen many of his movies, and I loved it when he was slapped so hard in 'Raajneeti'. I watched 'Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year' and kind-of liked his performance. But oh my 'Barfi!'. This is the movie he was waiting for, for people to take him a lot more seriously. And Priyanka Chopra just stuns! She has disappointed in so many duds that I had written her off. But this! The preparation and the effort she has made to get every expression right, such control over body language, to get every twitch perfectly, shows. Her screen-presence is poetry. She easily tops Rani Mukherjee in 'Black', and I am hopeful that she is picking up a National Award for this performance. And then there are other gems like Saurabh Shukla's performance. Such brilliance in an otherwise minor character.

I don't think any post on 'Barfi!' would be complete without mentioning the movie's music and the score. Swanand Kirkire has done a magnificent job penning the lyrics, and his poetry is reminiscent of the brilliance we have seen from Javed Akhtar. The score is a delight, the songs brilliant. It's been on my playlist for weeks now. In particular, 'Phir le aaya dil' (Rekha Bharadwaj's sheer awesomeness), and 'Saawali si raat' are going to be fresh for a lot of years to come. [Update: I was skeptical since the beginning about Pritam. This and this (Amélie) is just disappointing. :| ]

This movie is a triumph for Indian cinema. Such movies get made maybe once or twice in a decade (which is such a shame). My prediction is that this movie is getting a permanent spot on the imdb top 250 movies list, that is considering the current rating and the pace at which this is gaining in the ratings, and the number of votes. My hope is that this is getting an Indian ticket to the Oscars. With a little trimming, to get the running time under 120 minutes. Considering that the theme is universal, and language isn't a real impediment in getting the movie, it can gain some serious traction in the film-circuit and be a real contender at the Awards. I so want to see that! Damn!

Woh jo adhuri si baat baaki hai


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