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Bareilly Ki Barfi Review: This Sweet Needs More Of Rajkummar Rao

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Bareilly Ki Barfi is introduced to us as that perfect after-meal dessert that has ghee, sugar, milk, and dry fruits in right proportions, in other words that good ol’ barfi. But after the initial bite, there is something a little too sweet, something that’s too heavy, something that just doesn’t fit in. 

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Bareilly Ki Barfi is that sweet where you are unable to figure out if you like it or not – not too convincing or satisfying.

The film is the story of Bitti Mishra (Kriti Sanon) who aches to fall in love with a man who treats her the way her father does – like a boy. Constantly berated for smoking, drinking, and staying out till late night, Bitti feels things would’ve been easier had she been a boy. But, a chance encounter with a fairly unpopular book titled ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ changes her life for the better, she believes the girl in the book is her. 

And so, she goes on a hunt looking for the author Pritam Virodhi (Rajkummar Rao).

Turns out, the timid Pritam never really wrote the book but was merely a scapegoat. The original author, a printing press owner called Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana) wrote the book after his girlfriend Bubbly married someone else. 

Confusion ensues and lots of gallivanting happens in this breezy yet not-so satisfying film, especially when it could’ve been a slice-of-life comedy but turns into a just another rom-com from the Nil Battey Sannata filmmaker. 

*****

The film throughout has a fun tone, even though it explores double standards and blatant bullying between the characters. What begins as Bitti’s understanding of why she is looked at as her mother’s daughter and her father’s son soon shifts to how things would only get fixed if she gets married, and then turns into two boys vying for her attention. 

It’s as though the makers really enjoyed the 1991 Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, and Salman Khan- starrer Saajan, and gave it a twist with more laughs and pizzaz.

There’s a lot to laugh too, especially with the dialogue – crisp and razor sharp when funny. Nitish Tiwary of Dangal fame is behind it so it doesn’t come off as such a surprise. But when it gets to the emotional moments, there’s a lot that’s missing where he eventually panders to the cheesy rom-com dialogues.

*****

While the film is fun, there’s Bollywood’s standard dose of manipulation guaranteed – the entitled male lead who believes that manipulating the girl is perfectly okay since he is doing it for love. Deliberately making her fall in love with another man and then ensuring her heart breaks so that he comes to her aid and eventually wins the Bareilly ki barfi’s heart. 

And to get his love, the hero bullies and taunts another man to the point where he leaves the town. It’s timed with comic background music even if the premise sounds troubling. 

The film is also a reminder of how Ayushmann Khurrana has played the lead who’s had his heartbroken many times on-screen. This year alone, he played a confused, heartbroken writer twice – the last time being Meri Pyaari Bindu. Going by how similar his Chirag Dubey is similar to MPB‘s Abhimanyu, this wouldn’t be the last time Ayushmann gets to play the heartbroken lead who has a ‘soup’ song waiting for him.

Kriti Sanon as Bitti is good, but more than being a girl from UP, there’s a very city girl vibe to her. But thankfully she doesn’t try too hard with the UP accent and sticks to whatever doesn’t sound too inauthentic. She has a role that’s as much as the male leads, and also has a significant background story –  we don’t set the bar very high as far as female characters in Bollywood are concerned. It’s also evident that writers tried hard to steer away from the manic pixie dream girl and made her just a fun girl who just happens to be a replacement for Chirag’s ex.

So close, writers. So close. 

*****

Rajkummar Rao should be dubbed the rightful Bareilly ki barfi in this film. His character is the one who gets pushed around everywhere – his so-called friends, his mother, his boss, and life in general. So when he gets pushed around again from the same people who made him leave town, he gives it back and transforms into a rangbaazi tapori. His transformation is to watch out for, along with the ‘Badass Babua’ playing in the background.

As Pritam Virodhi, Rao owns the character, owns every scene. While Bareilly Ki Barfi isn’t too bad, it would’ve totally been the perfect after-meal sweet had they included more of Pritam Virodhi and his epic transformation in the film. 

*****

The Bareilly Ki Barfi review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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