Silences seldomly spoke so articulately . It’s been a while since we saw a film that set style at a subsidiary state to substance, put the characters’ inner life ahead of the flamboyant manifestations of self-identity in a world governed by benevolence and charm.
“Barfi!” is a very captivating film. It’s remarkably devoid of vanity. The story of a deaf-and-mute man who could have grown up watching Chaplin and Raj Kapoor’s cinema, and an autistic girl who has emphatically not seen Shah Rukh Khan in “My Name Is Khan”, is told without the props of a loud background music and other prompters to get audiences’ involved in the proceedings.
This is a picaresque world of artless charm which invites you in without band baaja or baaraati. Fanfare is for the circus. “Barfi!” is pure cinema.
But then speech was always supposed to be the least essential component of cinema. Ask Ingmar Bergman or Satyajit Ray. Their character spoke through lingering silences.
It’s been a while since any protagonist on screen said so much to us without speaking. Rani Mukerji in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Black” said it all through her muted mode of communication. But she had the formal sign language plus a voiceover for articulate support.
Significantly Anurag Basu, a master storyteller (and never mind the tormenting tepidity of his last film “Kites”) does away with the crutches of a sign language and a voiceover.
Priyanka Chopra as the autistic Jhilmil steals the show from Ranbir, if that’s possible. Lately, she has been found to be guilty of overacting in “Agneepath” and “Anjaana Anjaani” (with Ranbir again). In “Barfi!”, all her recent sins of excess are washed away.
Priyanka’s inherent glamorous personality simply disappears into her character. We don’t see the actress on screen at all! We see only Jhilmil who reminds us in a very pleasant way of Sridevi in “Sadma”. This is one of the most flawless interpretations of a physical-psychological disability seen on celluloid.
As for Basu, in his earlier films “Gangster – A Love Story” and “Life… In A Metro”, he proved himself a maestro of the inner life. “Barfi!” too is shot on location within the hearts of the characters.
Not just the memorable protagonists, even the smaller players specially Roopa Ganguly and Akaash Khuruna and Haradhan Bandhopadhyay, leave a lingering impact.
“Barfi!” celebrates life without dismissing the dark passages and roadblocks that we often encounter as we travel through that craggy road to death.
To be able to celebrate life so warmly and sensitively the filmmaker has to know death closely. Basu, a concer survivor, has been there.
“Barfi!” comes as close to being a modern masterpiece as cinematically possible. To miss it would be a crime. To embrace it is to serenade the sublime.
Movie Name: Barfi
By :Subhash K. Jha
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ileana d’Cruz
Director: Anurag Basu