Review

Bareilly Ki Barfi review: A cinematic dessert that warms your heart and belly

Release Date: 18 Aug 2017 / Rated: U/A / 02hr 02min


Cinestaan Rating

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Mayur Lookhar

A simple sweet script, robust screenplay, excellent dialogues and outstanding performances will make you crave for this desi dessert.

Hindi cinema speaks the language of love. Over the years, there’s been an inclination to dive into diverse subjects, but the traditional romantic saga, if served right, is still the ideal family entertainer.

Traditionally, Hindi romantic comedies have been set in urban locales, but there has been a paradigm shift with filmmakers now serving these tales from the hinterlands. Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017), the Tanu Weds Manu franchise, Raanjhanaa (2013) to name a few.  

Dangal writer Nitesh Tiwari and his wife Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari came across a delectable book The Ingredients Of Love, written by Nicholas Barreau, widely speculated to be the pseudonym of German writer Daniela Thiele. The Tiwaris took a few ingredients, as claimed by lead pair Ayushmann Khurrana and Kriti Sanon, but not the entire recipe to bake their sweet Bareilly Ki Barfi — an earthy rom-com set in the small town of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.

Bitti Mishra (Sanon) is a young unmarried girl from Bareilly working as a customer service executive in the local energy department. She smokes, drinks, break dances — not the ideal traits that you’d associate with a traditional, small-town girl. This freedom is granted by her parents Narottam (Pankaj Tripathi), who runs a sweet shop, and Sushila (Seema Pahwa). The Mishras are one-of-a-kind in Bareilly.

The biggest headache for the Mishras is not being able to find a suitable groom for their daughter, who keeps getting rejected by the conservative, chauvinist suitors.

One fine evening, Bitti runs away from home, heading nowhere, never wanting to return. Whilst waiting for her train, she picks a little book ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ from the station book stall. The next morning Sushila discovers the letter from Bitti, but before she can bawl, Bitti is right in front of her eyes. It’s the book that’s brought her back to Bareilly. Bitti finds glaring similarities between the female protagonist in the book and her and is adamant that meet the writer, Pritam Vidrohi.

Bareilly Ki Barfi is actually written by Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana), who runs a little print and publishing house. Dubey penned his sob love story in 'Bareilly Ki Barfi'. He’s doesn’t want the world to know his plight, nor does he want to hurt his love Babli by creating trouble in her married life. So, he coerces a meek collegian Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkummar Rao) into taking the credit for the book. The only one who ends up buying 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' is Bitti. Coincidentally, Babli and Bitti share similar traits, which makes the latter believe that the 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' is actually a book on her life.

Bitti finds the publisher Dubey and requests him to help her find Vidrohi. The trouble is that Vidrohi is no longer in Bareilly, but works in Lucknow. Dubey falls in love with Bitti and is about to tell her the truth but upon landing at the Mishra household, he sees the disdain that Sushila Mishra has for the book and its writer. Dubey believes that he must find Vidrohi and ensure that the latter conducts himself in a way that leaves both Bitti and Sushila disappointed, thereby paving the way for him to profess his love. The tables turn on Dubey, as Vidrohi’s daring, unruly conduct has an opposite effect on both Bitti and her parents. The tug-of-war for Bitti leads to some hilarious drama.

There’s no novelty attached to the script as such, but director Ashwiny has carved a robust screenplay, that is backed by outstanding performances from the entire cast. Bareilly Ki Barfi thrives on its earthy characters, excellent dialogues by Nitesh, Shreyas Jain, and the desi contemporary music. Bareilly Ki Barfi smells of Uttar Pradesh's love, dare and humour. Javed Akhtar’s narration of the story is both compelling, humorous and highly entertaining.

The fine screenplay is backed by superlative performances led by Rajkummar. For the better part of his role, Vidrohi is as meek as a lamb, but he transforms into all together different person when he’s acting as the unruly, arrogant guy.

It is just fascinating to see how Rajkummar can switch his tone, body language, emote different expressions in a jiffy. Be it as the effeminate sales boy at a saree shop, or the fake show of bravado on the dangerous streets of Lucknow, Rajkummar leaves you guffawing.

Vidrohi’ s transformation from being the meek to being the ‘Badass Babua’ is simply exhilarating. From being bullied by his mother or Dubey, Vidrohi’s emotional outbursts move you. Rajkummar is a little genius in the making and that is no exaggerated statement.

While Rajkummar is the real deal, one shouldn’t take away credit from the talented Khurrana. Though it’s still early days, Khurrana has carved for himself an image of a good boy. That image faces some threat as for the first time we get to see an intimidating Khurrana.

Maybe, the writer in Khurrana is carrying the frustrations of letting the girl go in his last flick Meri Pyaari Bindu. Dubey is selfish, frustrated and Khurrana displays these emotions to a nicety.

The Chirag-Pritam tussle is endearing and entertaining. They don’t trade any punches, but their war of words in UP lingo, pun for pun keeps you on the edge of your seat. Like Rajkummar, Khurrana, too, is flawless in his performance.

Casting director Mukesh Chhabra has a knack for picking the right people for the right roles. Seema Pahwa, Pankaj Tripathi, and television actress Swati Semwal, who plays Bitti's friend Rama, are a pure delight to watch.

Pankaj Tripathi, who had tormented us as the butcher Sultan Qureshi in the Gangs of Wasseypur franchise (2012), has produced his most entertaining performance. Narottam is a laidback person, a henpecked husband, more a friend than a father to Bitti. Him mumbling on the bed gazing at the painfully slow fan leaves you in splits. There’s a languid elegance to Tripathi. Narottam will perhaps remind you of the popular cartoon character Droopy. Tripathi pulls off the character with elan.

Seema Pahwa is perhaps older than Tripathi, but they rock as an unconventional reel pair. If Narottam is ice, then Sushila is fire. Of all the protagonists, it is Sushila, who evokes the most guffaws and applause.

Finally, Bareilly Ki Barfi wouldn’t have tasted sweet if wasn’t for the measured performance of Sanon. The actress has showed promise in her earlier films, but Bareilly Ki Barfi has to be the most defining role of her short career.

Sanon is an attractive girl, but when she breaks into a 1000 watt smile, it also exposes her gums partly. That is how Ashwiny and Nitesh Tiwari wanted their Bitti to be and so Sanon fitted the bill perfectly. Her neat and sweet performance here will help eradicate the bad memories of her previous film, Raabta (2017).

What the film suffers is from a predictable climax, that’s common with such light-hearted love triangles. The feminists will not be pleased to hear Vidrohi say, “Agar ladkiyan shakal dekh kar shaadi karti, toh Hindustan ke aadhe mard kunware reh jaate” (If girls paid heed to just looks, then most Indian men would remain bachelors). The feminists would question, “Don’t the Indian girls have a right to choose a good looking man?” Most men, too, would perceive this dialogue to be stereotyping them. There are few frames which make you wonder whether the cameraman slipped or perhaps the editor went to sleep.

Nevertheless, these minor things don’t hamper your overall viewing experience. Since the 1960s, Bareilly is synonymous with Asha Bhosle's classic track 'Jhumka gira re, Bareli ke bazaar mein' from Mera Saaya (1966). In Bareilly Ki Barfi, you can savour more than just a jhumka. Go grab a bite!