BAREILLY KI BARFI
An Adaptation of Nicolas Barreau’s novel ‘Ingredients of Love‘
Directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Written by Nitesh Tiwari & Shreyas Jain
Produced by Vineet Jain & Renu Ravi Chopra
Starring Kriti Sanon, Rajkummar Rao & Ayushmann Khurrana
Pankaj Tripathi, Seema Pahwa, Swati Semwal & Rohit Choudhary
Photographed by Gavemic U. Ary
Edited by Chandrashekhar Prajapati
Music by Tanishk Bagchi, Arko, Samira Koppikar & Tanishk-Vayu
Background Score by Sameer Uddin
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari gears up for the ‘second film test’ after having delivered in her debut Nil Battey Sannata. The film is based on a novel Iyer Tiwari apparently read on a flight, gave to her husband to read and then got her producers to acquire the rights to adapt, shifting the action from France to North India.
Bareilly Ki Barfi revolves around Bareilly native Bitti Mishra. Unlike most other girls in the small UP town, she break dances, watches English films (which she translates hilariously for her friend Rama), smokes, drinks and eats non-veg. She lives with her parents: her mother is hell-bent on getting her married while her sweet shop owner father is the doting one, having raised his daughter like one would raise a son in the heartland of India. Exasperated with her mother and feeling that she is worthless, Bitti tries to run away from home, only to be brought back after reading the titular book, whose protagonist she feels resembles her. She seeks for the author of the book – Pritam Vidrohi – to no avail. But she does come across the printer/publisher of the piece, Chirag Dubey who, smitten by her, decides to help her find and get with Vidrohi. Or does he?
Technically speaking, the film is fine. The costumes are the kind the average Joes and Janes in North India wear. Chandrashekhar Prajapati’s smart editing works well to enhance the narrative of a film. Not once does it let up, nor does it feel out of place. Gavemic U. Ary’s camerawork is crisp. He doesn’t go for flashy shots, opting to manoeuvre his cameras in a way that the artists remain the centre of attention in the frames. The way he lights the final scene in the film is also very remarkable. The music is neat too, with Twist Kamariya and Sweety Tera Drama standing out (Indian instruments are utilised wonderfully in both numbers).
Swati Semwal is pleasant as Bitti’s friend Rama, bringing a natural charm to the part. Rohit Choudhary as Chirag’s sidekick Munna goes a few steps further. He turns a stock character into something worth remembering, looking and feeling like a regular guy from Bareilly. Choudhary gets some of the best lines in the film and pulls them off exceedingly well. Veteran Seema Pahwa is endearing as Bitti’s conservative mother. She steps into a role seemingly tailor-made for her. She does well to not let her act slip into a stereotype of Indian mothers. Fellow veteran Pankaj Tripathi shines too as the more liberal, doting dad who wants, above everything else, his daughter to be happy. His scenes with Kriti Sanon are some of the warmest in the film.
Ayushmann Khurrana comes alive as an actor for the second time since his debut (Vicky Donor) five years ago. He gets the tone of the manipulative and scheming Chirag right. What he does better is make you feel for the character despite his many shortcomings. He also does a good job with the dialect.
Rajkummar Rao takes a break from the serious stuff he’s been doing (he still has the web-series Bose: Dead or Alive and Hansal Mehta’s terrorism drama Omerta this year) and delivers the best performance of the film. Alternating between a shy, subdued sari salesman and a leechad and rangbaaz launda, Rao is a revelation. You knew before that the guy could act, but you didn’t know he could pull off the latter character with as much ease as he does. His act is an excellent follow-up to his work in Trapped.
Kriti Sanon also does a good job, delivering her best performance till date. Yes, she is still a little rough but she proves with her performance that if she is given a well-written character, she can deliver. She shares a wonderful chemistry with not only Rajkummar and Ayushmann, but also with Shweta, Mrs. Pahwa and Mr. Tripathi. In one word, she is, much like Bitti, spunky.
Two of the writers of Dangal – Nitesh Tiwari and Shreyas Jain – deliver a wonderful screenplay, laden with some sparkling scenes and incredible dialogue. They get the humour spot-on and the characters are each given their own space. Bitti especially is written in a way that makes her relatable to the urban audience but a new person to the tier 2 and tier 3 city audiences. Her ballsy stand on virginity and throwing her jooti at a guy who passes a lewd remark are interesting characteristics. The incorporation of the typical UP Hindi adds a lovely touch to the film. They keep the audience engaged in the film’s primary question post-interval: Dulhania Kaun Le Jaayega? The climactic twist is convincing and they do well to keep the film light and breezy.
Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari helms the film admirably. Not only does she not allow herself to get pulled into useless subplots, she also holds for the audience a subtle mirror to the patriarchal Indian society. At the same time, she indicates a change in society through the parenting of Papa Mishra and the overall attitude of Bitti. For people in urban areas, drinking and smoking may not seem to be a big deal for a girl, but in the smaller, more conservative towns, it is. And that is what Iyer Tiwari highlights. She is going to be a force to reckon with as more and more lady filmmakers enter Hindi cinema.
Verdict: D (Delightful and Delicious)
[Guide to Ratings is mentioned below, primarily for the benefit of my friend Pradyumna A. Kalagi]
Up next on CINEPHILE STOCK: Steven Soderbergh’s heist comedy Logan Lucky and Raj & DK’s action comedy A Gentleman.
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*Guide to Ratings: In descending order: F, E, D, C, B, A. Accompanied by one or two words beginning with the corresponding alphabet.