Not all movies create an impact and not all movies leave you stranded in the crowd of thoughts. Of the few movies which scathed me, ‘Barfi’ stands first in the queue. Movies these days touch upon topics like romance targeted at physical magnetism but very few stories convey love in an emotional effervescence, which stands pure and distills poignancy throughout your mind and body without getting smutty.
Murphy (Ranbir) a deaf and mute guy of nepali origin living in Darjeeling, falls in love with Shruti Ghosh (Illeana) a Bengali girl at first sight, who in turn gets awe at each and every comical behavior and his innocent pranks, reciprocates her love for him in spite of his disability. Such a bewitching affection that binds them together seethes beyond power and status, doesn’t hold for long, as sanity comes to existence and getting ahead in life with such a man with disability doesn’t sound sensible according to her mother. Having found the reality of life, Barfi (as pronounced by his mute mouth) moves on and encounters an autistic girl Jhilmil Chatterjee (Priyanka Chopra) who in turn walks along in his life, with her mental abnormality. The series of unfortunate events which revolves around these three characters, spins the story till the end of their life turning it upside down, is a worthy and stirring watch in the silver screen.
Wikipedia describes autism as ‘characterized by delays or abnormal functioning before the age of three years in one or more of the following domains: (1) social interaction; (2) communication; and (3) restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. Social impairments are marked by poor use of nonverbal communication, difficulty in peer relations, lack of social-emotional reciprocity, and lack of shared enjoyment’.
Remember Shah Rukh from ‘My Name is Khan’? That’s the same disorder which is been handled here as well.
The movie is a source of unconditional and innocent love, which each character try to express in their own special way. It speaks volumes about the choices in life. What you choose to do and whom you choose to stay with. One never understands the worth of anything until you lose it which stood true throughout the movie. A perfect example of unconditional love and madness for each other can never come to this extent. Emotions conveyed with pure actions and no words – Such a dramatic exhibition of relentless adoration!
Barfi (Murphy) can never hear but he can listen to the idiosyncrasies of the heart. He can never speak but he conveys a lot more things with his muteness. That’s the personification of Barfi. The innocence can never be benchmarked but Barfi displays the pinnacle of such innate ability in him to appeal people with his smile at ease. The more he runs around, pinches policemen in bums and literally does a ‘Tom & Jerry’ show, bangs on the windows and sleeps peacefully curling up near Jhilmil, his ignorance of the world around him, submerged in his godly silence, just reverberates in him throughout the movie. His character reminded me of Kamal Hassan from a tamil movie called ‘Moondram Pirai’ in few of the scenes and Vikram from the movie ‘Deivathirumagal’ which is also set in a hill station and story moves back and forth in the timeline. Ranbir scores in his stance.
Shruti is a Bengali girl, with large red bindi in white red saree – reminded me of ‘Kahani’ movie. Well, she is a high society girl who socializes with people, dances elegantly in the community club with her friends and likes the cuteness embellished around her. She admires Barfi in every aspect. She is a typical Indian woman who thinks, rationalizes and acts accordingly. She lives the false life of adhering to status, people and society, giving up her own likes and dislikes of life. The typical portrayal of Indian woman who thinks esteem is primary and holding a high esteem status in society is important, which forces her to sacrifice her love for the sake societal woes later on. In spite of her deep love for Barfi, she let things go out of her hands, right in front her eyes, just for the sake of saving her name and her family for the society. But she proves that love is all more powerful than the sanity of world around her. She goes to greater extremes. Splendid emotions spanned in her character.
Jhilmil the meek, innocent, short bob side-swept unkempt bushy haired autistic girl, with the mind of a toddler, walks with her childish stance, abandoned by her parents after the death of her ‘naanu’ in an old-age home called ‘Muskaan’, blends her childish stupor, gifted by the disorder with her blind affection for Barfi. She walks away with glory in her own world of paper birds and animals (origami), scribbling away in the walls with crayons, scripting her unknown destination of life speck by speck. Tears settle down in the brim of your eyes when the 20 something autistic Jhilmil lifts her skirt and expects Barfi to untie the knot of her under pants fumblingly repeating ‘Su-Su….Su-Su’ as speech impaired by autism. The sanctity of such heavy emotions has been marvelously dealt and delivered without the scenes getting luscious or bemire.
The ability to establish the comfort level of such autistic people with others is very miniscule and it is captured in a very subtle manner if you notice. Jhilmil’s mannerism of fidgeting with her skirt’s loose ends gives a sense of pacification to her. But when she gets the feel of comfort with Barfi, she goes to the extent of knotting her fingers with his, when asleep and even holding the inside out of his pant pockets, to tug along when walking. Such a sweet characterization of Jhilmil was beautifully crafted scene by scene with sheer justice to the screenplay.
The movie on the whole progresses with shifting timelines from present, past and more past and back again traversing endlessly in all the dates 1973-1978-2012. The Charlie-Chaplin-ish behavior of Ranbir and the Amelie-ish French cuisine back score of the movie with most of the scenes inspired from various other Hollywood flicks such as ‘The Notebook’, ‘Charlie Chaplin’ and few other movies, makes it a performance cocktail which we found it killingly delicious. Music adds trance to the whole story which hits you right in the heart and supplements the flow of the story emotionally well.
Barfi is not a way of life only for people with such shortcomings but it should be the way of life for every human being who is born to cherish it with purity, sincerity and totally realistic devotion and love for each other. This movie wonderfully scripts the very emotion of ardent and sanctum love and clearly justifies that love is not bounded by such shortcomings. It is more divine, magnificently sweet and adorable which everyone has to experience in their life time – to be in love and feel the madness for each other and drown in that mesmerizing feeling which leaves you in a state of affectionate bliss!
A movie emotionally savored well.
Barfi – a pure love sans lust!
Rating: ■■■■■ (4/5)