Published On: Sat, Aug 19th, 2017

BAREILLY KI BARFI : A tad too sweet

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2017_8$largeimg18_Friday_2017_182418363Nonika Singh

Ever since Anand L Rai invented patakha Tanu, which fit Kangana Ranaut like a glove, there has been a deluge of perky small-town female characters. So, Bitty (Kriti Sanon) of Bareilly Ki Barfi comes as no surprise.

This daughter of  a sweet shop owner is bold and vivacious, can break into a jig (break dance to be precise) at the slightest turn of music,  smokes and drinks and has the courage to tell her suitors that she is no virgin.

No wonder she can’t find a suitable groom. After all girls like her, few and far between, are a ‘disaster.’

But before she decides to call it quits and run away from home, she stumbles upon a book Bareilly Ki Barfi that best describes a girl just like her with no value judgements attached to her behaviour which others, including her mother, call misdemeanors.

Thus begins her search for the author and director takes us on to the love path where  identities  are  muddled and soon  love has three facets, not just the visible Ayushmann Khurrana and Kriti.

If Kriti is just right for the exuberant Bitty and Khurrana is endearing and exasperating in turns as his character demands, Rajkummar Rao as the third angle and the underdog is brilliant.

He gets even better when he transforms into the snazzy confident, almost brash guy. Only if he had some more screen time as well as something more (spoiler alert).

Nevertheless, for a considerable part the director keeps you invested in the story told simply as well as has you nibbling over the key question—who will get the girl? Fleetingly, the film reminds you of those delectable super fresh romances such as Sai Paranjpye’s Katha.

But if those films skillfully and subtly delved into complexities and many shades of human nature, here the director decides to play super safe and love story ends the way you so hope and wish it won’t. The conflict resolution is a downer.

Thus Bareilly Ki Barfi, despite the surface gloss of rebellion, turns too sweet. If you like your love stories more sugar than spice be Bareilly’s guest.

We would have preferred a sharper climax, the sparkle of which can otherwise be seen interspersed in-between and not just in Javed Akhtar’s witty voice-over that takes you enroute Bareilly ki galiyan, especially the Misra household that is peopled with few but animated characters and competent actors (Seema Pahwa and Pankaj Tripathi as parents).

Dialogues such as Agar ladkiyan shakal dekhti to desh ke aadhe se zyaada ladke kunwaare hote have a zing. Indeed, Bareilly… has many delightful one-liners and amusing moments but the overall impact is not tantalizing enough to make it a wholesome fare one must bite into. Unless you have a sweet tooth…the saccharine-high barfi will leave you craving for more.

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