Despite the steady phase-out of traditional Indian sweets, Bareilly Ki Barfi sales, an otherwise little known sweet meat, will soar following last weekend’s delicious Bollywood release. The movie comes straight from the 1970’s Hrishikesh Mukherjee school of filmmaking. Clean, light, family fun, devoid of obscenities and ‘I slap you, you make fun of disabled person’ jokes. Products you crave for, but fail to visit the movie hall, having burnt your monthly budget on star-struck, big-banner, damp squibs.
Encourage good cinema, not stars bank balances!
Second-time director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari manages a fine concoction of top drawer performances, constant laughathon, a plot inspired by Nicholas Barreau’s novel ‘Ingredients of Love’ and few twists amidst middle-class settings. After thoroughly enjoying the crisp 123 minutes, you wish Bollywood shoots more movies in the bylanes we grew up and with real characters than pretentious stars promoting European tour videos – yes a direct jab at Jab Harry Met Sejal. Yet, it’s a blot on our society that a horrendous JHMS will end up making multiple times revenue than BKB. The last time a sweet, innuendo free, family rom-com hit screens – Happy Bhag Jayegi – it couldn’t even gross 50 crores. We deserve what we get.
The only movie, in this genre, which did well in recent past was Tanu Weds Manu Returns – grossing 240 crores – but that came at cost of an extremely poor message to society in a bid to promote excess feminism. An educated, NRI, stable earning, nice, loving, caring and successful husband was send to a mental asylum as he was perceived ‘isn’t much fun’! Bareilly Ki Barfi doesn’t impart any irresponsible message at cost of the comedy or feminism.
Small town charm
I left the movie hall with Rajkummar Rao’s change in attitude (note when he stops the auto-rickshaw), Kriti Sanon’s charming smile, Ayushmann’s earnest performance and the plethora of small town relatable acts. Sleeping on terraces, ‘khaate me jod do’, triple riding on bikes, Altaf Raja emotion (!) and the non-stop dishes – kachoris to rabri to chowmein to sweet corn soup to many other snack items picked from ‘thongas‘ (paper pouches). The last Bollywood movies which indulged so much on street food were probably Band Baaja Baraat and Vicky Donor. Bareilly Ki Barfi is slightly short of those, on an overall product level, but still the best movie of an average Bollywood year 2017.
Solid support cast
Recently in ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’, actor Pankaj Tripathi confessed how he started his film career loitering outside legendary filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s office hoping to land a role, as the latter typically cast only ugly looking people! After hitting a peak with iconic Gangs of Wasseypur, Pankaj finally got chances to work on ‘nice character’ roles with Ashwini Tiwari. He essays the role of a dad, every Indian middle-class girl would dream of – sharing cigarettes, shedding an odd tear and giving her the same freedom, Geet of Jab We Met got – a similar railway station scene will remind you of Geet. It’s impossible to believe the same actor is the menacing bloodthirsty Sultan Qureshi in GOW. Pankaj Tripathi, Seema Pahwa (her peak being Ankhon Dekhi) and little known Rohit Choudhary (I wish Namit Das or Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub had got this role) are solid support cast.
Kriti Sanon’s peak got to be Bareilly Ki Barfi now. Having essayed her glam doll roles with enough star sons and superstars, she needed BKB to break free. While at times her alluring looks and ultra slim figure make it tough to place her at Bareilly, her full-on committed act, the ‘nahi’ when asked about virginity, the thousand watt smiles and charming looks (during the engagement scenes) is what you come out of the hall with. I wish she adds weight to her, FTV bamboo shaped modelish, frame – munching samosas (in front of her marriage proposal discussion!), will do her good in reality too!
Ayushmann Khurrana oozed talent since his debut high Vicky Donor. Add Dum Laga Ke Haisha and now BKB, as a middle-class guy with grey shades, he stands convincingly. His character isn’t a great human being – often lying, often putting a friend into trouble and selfish to the core. Yet, he is in love, is scared to admit and is focussed – the sort of mixed nature friends we all have had. There is one danger to the Kkk..Khurrana boy though, he is getting typecast and needs to break free for the future.
The pair have something to learn from one of Bollywood’s premium actors, Rajkummar Rao. Still fledgling to this industry, yet RKR steals the scene in every stage he walks onto; and refuses to be typecast. His Wikipedia profile for 2017 shows he is one of the busiest actors around. Barely had BKB released, that web series Bose – Dead or Alive is already generating adequate curiosity, thanks to Rajkummar’s sneak peak.
If the first third of Bareilly Ki Barfi is a cute, funny movie; RKR’s entry makes the rest of the journey, a rip roaring one – specially his scenes with Ayushmann. The way he talks on the phone, becomes ‘aastin ka anaconda’, stops traffic and yet matches dancing steps with his glamourous co-artists, you wonder how far this powerhouse actor is destined to go.
Verdict: Must watch at movie hall, twice. To de-stress, to laugh loud, to admire, to discuss and laugh again with your family. And to stay away from being lazily imprisoned to gadgets.
Toilet-Ek Prem Katha will affect BKB’s earnings, but Bareilly Ki Barfi is the most ‘lallan taap’ movie of Bollywood 2017. Giving them company in the top ten would be with Kaabil, Hindi Medium, Baahubali 2, Jagga Jasoos, Death at the Gunj, Trapped, The Ghazi Attack and Mukti Bhavan. A family fun, sexual innuendo free, expletive free, genuine comedy movie is something, even Hollywood struggles to manufacture. Go watch!