Why Barfi can have a bitter fate

A still from 'Barfi'

When film historians of the future look back at cinema today, they would discover two kinds of films: those with subliminal morals and films like 'Barfi!' While it's unfair to slot a film based on its trailer, there's no harm in having an opinion and here is mine. Going back to Ranbir Kapoor saying it all without actually saying anything (he plays a deaf and dumb person in the film) can seem like a celebration of life. And if you've seen the trailer, it's impossible to miss the captions, 'be happy', 'be crazy', 'be loved', 'be charming’, 'fart generously'. OK, the last one wasn’t spelt out. But the point is and this is the scary part, does everything have to be spelt out? Does Anurag Basu have to subscribe to the Bhansali school of filmmaking? Do we need a desi Chaplin to tell us how to knead our dreary lives into something that makes it all seem worth our existence? Why not ‘be someone who has a mind of his own’ and doesn’t need to be injected with emotion’? Do we really need to do a chicken dance to have fun or goof about town to be chalu? These are questions that no one wants to ask.
The united colours of Ranbir Kapoor

Moving on to the trailer: cinematically picturised, the visuals are crisp and the quick flashes are comparable to the work done by some of the best technicians in the world. But is that enough to make for a delightful watch? That is for you to decide. So let’s just pick the not-so-subtle directive captions in the trailer to figure out what’s cooking inside Ranbir’s wooly cap or under Priyanka’s Johnny Lever wig.

Be charming: Ranbir Kapoor’s mime act of placing his imaginary heart at a damsel’s feet can be cute, but charming? As Aww-worthy as you might find it, would this scene have the same appeal if you had Mimoh Chakraborty instead of RK? If you’re a RK fan, it doesn’t matter what he does or doesn’t do, he will be charming just as much. I am sure, for you, he peaks his charm-o-meter at the end of the trailer when he lets out a gurgling fart once his finger is pulled at, right? If you are a RK fanatic, clench-fist-now.

Be loved: No matter how grumpy, lonesome and stuck up we may be, we don’t need to be told to be loved or to fall in love. And since it’s not something that can be executed with prior planning or performed on demand, it’s a pointless tip to begin with. But yes, Ranbir doing the samba, dressed as a Bengali groom drums up a lot of feeling. But it also reminds us of the Bhansali phenomenon where physical disability is assumed to warp mental sensibilities. A deaf and dumb person may not necessarily be demented or socially-challenged. Unless that works better on celluloid?
Be a village idiot?

Be chalu: A monkey-capped Ranbir kicks some serious butt to prove that he’s chalu in the trailer of Barfi. And the obvious underlined message being that everyone must be just that. While this priceless advice might change many lives, the fact of the matter is, this wonderful characteristic flaw cannot be inculcated. Cheaters, pilfers, kleptomaniacs and stamp-collectors are inherently the way they are and one cannot grow into one or join a coaching class to acquire such skills.

Be crazy: Taking baby steps in water or duck-walking through corridors is perfectly sane behavior. Sliding down a ladder to land crotch-first on a cop, could skew the sanity bar to the other side. But while a lot of great ideas have come out of being crazy, can it be singled out as an ingredient to a better life?

Be barfi: Now this is most vital one. Unless you’d rather be a laddoo? Or something fresh off the shelf of Brijwasi sweets? What this exactly means cannot be deciphered from the trailer. And no matter how much we tweak the nose of science, turning into a gulab jamun stills seems like something out of 'The Jetsons'. But one can logically deduce that being a ‘barfi’ in some way means being a cumulative mix of all the above. Unless of course, this was a movie based on the Himalayas and the ‘baraf is free and you’re only renting it from me?’.

Want to have an opinion of your own? Here's the trailer that we've been yapping about:

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