"The biggest mistake in life is to make no mistakes." - Said during the narration in Barfi.
In the first 45 minutes or so of Barfi, there are just a few glimpsed of Jhilmil, the character Priyanka Chopra plays. You can say that she is conspicuous by her absence. In the one substantial scene in this period, where Jhilmil is shifting homes, you can see that she is n afraid, timid girl.
When she starts to join a song in a party, she is mocked. Perhaps, all her life till this time, she has been shunted and not allowed to grow. Jhilmil did spend time with her maternal grand father a fair bit too, so she wasn't completely dead in spirit, as it were.
However, only after she spends time with Barfi does she start 'making mistakes', living and breathing. The fifteen minutes before and after interval when Jhilmil and Barfi spend time together are heart warming. The two have known each other since they were children. Only now does Barfi truly appreciate and realise Jhilmil in a way.
Allowed to 'live', Jhilmil flutters and flies like the butterflies she is fascinated by in the woods. The differently abled people are as normal as any one else. In ways, they are more human as they are not polluted as much by the world which exists. They are human enough to pat goats in the head as Jhilmil does, not turn a blind eye like when we do when we see cows or horses being tortured on an every day basis. Priyanka Chopra was great in the role.
Set in the 70s, the film feels like a dream. It is as if you have been transported into a different world which we failed to notice and appreciate. Once you realize that, you start appreciating the differently abled even more so as normal people. That is all that is needed, really, for starters.
Other pointers -
- In the final scene, when an old Jhilmil is shown, she has an assured look to her in contrast to the 'able' Shruti played by Ileana D'Cruz, who has had a fractured life emotionally. Barfi and Jhilmil, one dying, the other, still very much autistic, need to give her support by touching her with their hands. Barfi and Jhilmil have lived normal lives. Barfi grimaces like most normal husbands would do perhaps when asked for a miniscule distracting task by Jhilmil while he is working in his old age.
- Ranbir Kapoor and Ileana D'Cruz have been superb. Without uttering a word, occupying the screen the most, Ranbir didn't make you feel words were lacking. Was pleasantly surprised how well Ileana, in her first bollywood film was able to emote facially, but then she has done many South films and is a star there.
- Anurag Basu has made a perfect film. I disagree that in parts the film was slow. The casual flow added to the flavor. This is a warm broth to be relished sip by sip, not gulped down in a jiffy. For me, this is the best hindi film of the last 10 years or so.
- Earlier, Anurag Basu made Kites, which I liked despite elements of masala in it. Basu says the film was made 'democratically'. Earlier in the year, another excellent film, Kahaani was released. That was directed by Sujoy Ghosh, who had earlier directed the terribly Aladdin. Amitabh Bachchan, whose own son acted in Aladdin, said on twitter after watching Kahaani, what Sujoy was doing making films like Aladdin. It is amazing what happens people are allowed to flow.
- This film has repeat value for the film being as great as it is. However, you can watch it again the see more pointedly the homages which were paid to Buster Keaton, Chaplin and silent era in general. Barfi sleeping on the statue while it was unveiled is a tribute to Chaplin's City Lights, for instance.