Bareilly Ki Barfi
Bareilly Ki Barfi: A Simple Plot Scattered By a Lack of Focus
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Bareilly Ki Barfi bears many flaws in its writing and execution. If you are in the mood for entertainment, this film will give you a reasonable experience. But if you prefer films that immerse you with their unpredictable characters and insightful writing, you will be disappointed by Bareilly Ki Barfi.
Bitti Mishra (Kriti Sanon) is an oddball. In the small-town of Bareilly, she is the only woman who enjoys the occasional cigarette and also loves to break-dance. Her tom-boyishness can be attributed to her father (Pankaj Tripathi), to whom she is more of a son than a daughter.
Bitti’s smooth-sailing life comes to a jilting halt when she faces rejections from many probable suitors. Unable to bear the pain of her broken-heart, she decides to leave town. At the railway station, she purchases a book titled Bareilly Ki Barfi, which bears resemblance to Bitti’s life. Overridden by excitement and curiosity, she decides to head back to Bareilly to look for the author. Her investigation leads her to two people. Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkummar Rao), an introvert who disguises as the author and Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana), the real author. The love triangle between these three characters forms the crux of the story.
Behind every interesting story lies a strong conflict. For any story to travel from one point to another, a convincing conflict is necessary. Bareilly Ki Barfi lacks this conflict. The first thirty minutes of the film takes you on an interesting journey as the characters are introduced in the milieu of small town. But post its intriguing introduction, the story’s graph never takes you through their ups and downs. After a point, the conflict itself is forgotten as the narration begins to incorporate too many confusing plot twists. With a weak conflict on one hand and too many twists on the other; the screenplay tends to get chaotic and messy.
At first, Chirag masking his identity as the mysterious author poses as the problem. Later, Pritam’s sudden change of mind becomes the sole focus of the film and during the climax, the focus shifts to another problem. If these situations were combined into one overpowering issue leading to unpredictable consequences, the narration would not have been as messy.
The film constantly loses sight of its primary focus. Till the end, you don’t know if the subplot is Bitti’s journey to discovering the mysterious author or is it the face-off between Chirag and Pritam.
Nevertheless, Bareilly Ki Barfi can be passed off as a decent popcorn-entertainer. It’s simple and relatable dialogues make you smile. The small-town nuances of Bareilly are captured by Tiwari in an authentic manner. Furthermore, the director proves to be an expert when it comes to sketching characters involving strong-minded women, who need not necessarily be a part of a metropolitan city to have a modern upbringing.
As Bitti Mishra, Kriti Sanon is good. It is a relief to witness her shouldering challenging roles after a slew of Barbie and damsel-in-distress roles. But for a family that hails from a rural backdrop, she is slightly too urban. Her appearance isn’t entirely convincing. Ayushmann Khurrana’s character sketch is crucial to the film. He plays Chirag Dubey, a character who is actually a bully. His personality bears rough edges that force him to make bad decisions. All though there aren’t many problems with Khurrana’s portrayal, the time this film takes to establish his character’s selfishness overtakes the time he takes to reform himself. Rajkummar Rao is brilliant. Every now and then, his character impeccably metamorphoses into a macho man after having been an introvert all his life. This transition is performed effortlessly by Rao.
Seema Pahwa and Pankaj Tripathi show their finesse as some of the best character actors of the current lot. Their screen presence though limited ought to be treasured. In many scenes Pankaj Tripathi underlines the progressiveness of Bitti’s dad by taking up a minimal and realistic performance approach. Pahwa pursues her character with so much conviction, that you feel she is actually Bitti’s mother. As a mother, she brilliantly displays affection and strands of grey, when her daughter’s well-being is endangered.
Tiwari and Gavemic U Ary are proving to be quite the director-cinematographer duo. In many scenes, they use innovative methods of visual-storytelling to convey the moods of each character. The symbolism in the first scene as the camera pans down to reveal a typical middle-class family is quite impressively captured. Together, Tiwari and Gavemic U Ary deliver fascinating perspectives of a rural town.
Bareilly Ki Barfi is entertaining, but it is also undeniably flawed. While it engages you with clever comedy and lively characters, its lack of proper focus tends to bring down its credibility. If the director had devised a much more substantial conflict, this film would’ve made a lasting impression.