Barfi - sweet but not warm enough

Anurag Basu after a dud called Kites had to make an 'all in' type call with Barfi , a different genre from his comfort zone although to his credit he had shown skill in portraying relationships in all his movies. Barfi essentially is about relationships that the protagonist shares with everyone.

the name Barfi is the way he says Murphy - his moms vision that he will be like the kid displayed in the ads for the radio- an ideal kid.

But that he is not since he is deaf and dumb. That doesn't stop him though from growing up to a complete brat.

Now we have to believe that Barfi is just a harmless prankster , full of life, trying to bring a smile to everyone's lips. He does that to Shruti Sengupta( ileana dcruz in a stunning debut)a soon to be married girl who falls for his cute antics. Shruti's mother ( Rupa ganguly)shows the pitfalls of this route by giving her own example that love may not be comfortable in the long run. There is a wonderful moment when Barfi dresses up to ask for Shruti's hand for marriage and realizes her beau is in town. This is when you feel for this guy wonderfully enacted by Ranbir.

At precisely this moment the director decides to introduce an autistic girl jhilmil( piggy chops) who has parents who don't care for her but care for her grandfather's wealth. barfi's dad is in hospital and he thinks of kidnapping jhilmil. all the sincerity established before has to be forgotten because its just another prank? The speed and the easiness of this decision distanced me from Barfi. Is this the mUrphy boy?? You take the innocence out of Barfi and you have a new hero.

The hero who has several chaplinesque chases with the affable Saurabh Shukla who plays a pivotal role in holding the narrative on his paunch(bhaagtey bhaagtey mera waist size 52 se 42 Ho Gaya)

of course Barfi and jhilmil through a series of chases get closer to each other. But this is the romance where the director operates a few notches below potential , by making this a road movie where the travel makes you fond of your companion, but is it really the pristine emotion called love?

It falls short of the movies in this genre- Koshish,Sadma and even the first half of Khamoshi. There is no communication struggle of Koshish ,the pain in Kamal hasan's mind ( an eyes) when he puts Sridevi to sleep or the sheer anguish of Khamoshi when they try to make a living together.

The real character you feel for is Shruti the gal who tries again to meet Barfi so that she doesnt end up her like her mother. It's when you see the movie through her eyes , there is pain, there is anguish, there is the feeling that life is not fair and risks taken are still a risk. But when you do this, the central characters Barfi and jhilmil turn into eye candy equivalents leaving the movie weak when it should have grown poignant and black.

Anurag Basu took the risk but didn't go the full stretch, leaving us with a great postcard journey by car but I missed the mud of a bicycle ride. The movie has several wonderful moments and good acting to boot( unimaginable without Ranbir) but there is too much silver foil in this Barfi.