Arts & Culture, Features

Barfi!

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By Sijal Rehmane The much anticipated Bollywood production Barfi! opened to mixed reviews early last month, and has given the film industry a lot to talk about ever since. Barfi! is the story of the deaf-mute Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor)— a play on his actual name, Murphy— and his love triangle with the already-betrothed Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz) and Jhilmil, an autistic girl played by a make-up-and-bombshell-outfits-free Priyanka Chopra. Bollywood is certainly not known for its subtlety while portraying the differently-abled on screen [see: Black, My Name is Khan, Guru]. Barfi! however, promises to be a departure from this in-your-face formula, focusing instead on the relationships between the different characters as opposed to any struggles they have with their condition. The film is thus an infinitely more positive portrayal of the differently-abled as already self-actualized individuals, perhaps even more at peace with themselves than those that do not share their difference in ability. A look at the trailer hints at filmmaking that hearkens traditions of silent film and an intoxicatingly charming soundtrack, decidedly reminiscent of 2001’s Amelie. Indeed, the film has been criticized at length for its multitude of “homages” to filmic moments past, complete with a YouTube montage of these moments set next to their original inspirations with foreboding musical accompaniment. Find this doom-and-gloom-trumpeting video here. While we at the SHE Canada office would never, ever, condone plagiarism of any kind, we find that the filmic moments depicted here are far too blatant in their affinity with the originals to count as such, and serve more as a testament to the post-modern period that has given rise to this film: a sort of wink-nudge to those in the audience that are in the know. It would seem we are not the only ones able to appreciate the stylistic workings of Barfi!, the film has been chosen as India’s official entry to the 85th Academy Awards. We’ll be holding our breaths until the nominations on January 15th next year to see if the film makes it! Until then, be sure to check the film out in theatres all over Toronto. True to Bollywood formula, this flick runs 150 minutes long, so come prepared for some dragging moments, be generous with concession purchases, and go easy on the fountain drinks!  

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