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Baar Baar Dekho review: No Groundhog Day, but worth a dekho

Director Nitya Mehra takes an interesting subject and dresses it up as a Bollywood romcom.

Suparna Thombare

Film: Baar Baar Dekho (U/A)
Rating: 2.5/5

Hindi cinema hasn’t been able to achieve success with its time-travel stories in the past. Films like Love Story 2050 (2008) and Action Replayy (2010) completely messed it up! Baar Baar Dekho looks promising and comes across as a more sensible attempt at the genre. So, does it deliver?

Like several other time-travel films, this one raises a few questions. If you get the opportunity to travel into the future, would you change the way you deal with the present? If life gave you the chance to live the same day again, what would you do differently? Would you examine your priorities if you knew how your life was going to turn out?

Jai Verma (Sidharth Malhotra), a maths professor, and Diya (Katrina Kaif), an artist, are childhood sweethearts. Diya wants to get married. Jai reluctantly agrees. He is not sure if that is what he wants from life. What he wants is to conduct research on Vedic mathematics at Cambridge University, and being with Diya may not allow him to pursue the life he has envisioned for himself.

A night before the wedding, after a spat with Diya, Jai begins to travel to key moments in his future. He tries to understand why and how this is happening to him, and wants to know what he needs to do about it. He tries to apply his maths and logic to it, but will they help him get the answers?

Some amount of suspense arises from not knowing at which stage of his life Jai is going to land up and how life would be for him at the time. The time travel gets a little tedious after the interval, but the story manages to pull you back in time to keep you interested in the climax and the end.

The music by Amaal Mallik, Arko, Badshah, Jasleen Royal and Bilal Saeed is perfectly light and frothy, and Ravi K Chandran makes every frame look beautiful. Shri Rao’s writing has an interesting soul, but it's dressed in typical Bollywood attire. 

Baar Baar Dekho is a better romantic comedy than the ones like Katti Batti (2015), Ki & Ka (2016) and others we have seen recently, as it explores a concept that is novel to Hindi films. Its conformation to the genre, though, is what disallows it to rise and go beyond the romcom space and become a significant film.

Baar Baar Dekho's impact is also restricted by the average performances and chemistry of the leads. Kaif does manage to hold her own in some of the key emotional scenes but fails to add depth to her character. Malhotra, apart from looking handsome (even at the age of 46), does show growth as an actor. The scene where he looks at his little daughter and suddenly understands the importance of living in the moment especially stands out.

While Jai goes back and forth in time trying to change the one big event that caused trouble in his relationship, he fails to look at how important the small things in life are.

There are little things that director Nitya Mehra and her co-screenplay writers Anuvab Pal and Sri Rao do to break the conventional story-telling techniques, but, unfortunately, the big picture ends up looking like a typical mainstream Bollywood romance. It doesn’t want to be frivolous, and yet glosses over reality. 

Malhotra's character learns that just like maths even life is about balance, and that's what director Mehra tries to achieve in the film. In the process she may not be able to completely win over either party — those looking for something different and those looking for mainstream fare. 

Baar Baar Dekho is no Groundhog Day (1993) or even About Time (2013), but it's a start. Shedding some of the weight of making a mainstream entertainer could have helped this film rise to new heights. After all, there is so much more Hindi cinema needs to do when it comes to exploring the fantasy space.

Director: Nitya Mehra
Producers: Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani, Karan Johar
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Katrina Kaif, Ram Kapoor
Runtime: 2 hr 27 min