Bareilly – a city right in the middle of Lucknow and Delhi is the centre for this rom-com set in the rustic Hindi heartland. Known earlier in Bollywood as the city where the yesteryears lovely lady Sadhana lost her 'jhumka' in Raj Khosla's classic MERA SAAYA (1966), the city is remembered again but not for the lost 'jhumka' as Javed Akhtar rightly points out in the voice over but for the deliciously sweet, quirky and irresistible feeling of love told in a tongue-in-cheek manner with a sweet-toothed twist and decorated performance from Kirti Sanon, Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao.
BAREILLY KI BARFI adapted from the French novel 'Ingredients of Love' by Nicolas Barreau is the second film from Ashwini Iyer Tiwari the helmer who masterly crafted NIL BATTEY SANNATA – a heartfelt, affecting, motivating, significant, relevant parable that hailed the power of woman and motherhood giving Swara Bhaskar her finest and the most shining moments of her career till date.
Without any iota of doubt, BAREILLY KI BARFI does the same for Kirti Sanon what NIL BATTEY SANNATA did for Swara Bhaskar, giving Kirti Sanon her most cherished moments as an actress till date in this author backed role as the bubbly Bitti Mishra (Kriti Sanon), raised as a son by her father played by Pankaj Tripathi who owns a sweet shop. Bitti loves to smoke occasionally and doesn't mind drinking whiskey straight from the bottle and enjoys the thrill of watching pirated copies of Hollywood movies with her limited knowledge of the English language and her impulsive gig at break-dance on terrace makes her a live wire on her own. Strangely, this open minded character comes with a myopic belief that smoking and drinking is cool and progressive but considering it as a main stream entertainer, Bitti is accepted for her irresistible charm and we move on.
Struggling to find her match and fed up with constant rejection and her mother played by Seema Pahwa's unending rants for staying 'kunwari' at home, Bitti Mishra decides to elope. Waiting for her train at a vacant railway station, Bitti gets in contact with a book 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' and her life changes. The central character of the book resembles Bitti and overwhelmed by that fact that people like her do exist in reality makes her feel special invoking a desire to meet the author. The author and publisher of the book Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana) gets to know about Bitti through his friend who is a book vendor at the railway station. Occupied by his own miseries instead of rushing in, Chirag applies the wait and watch policy and fabricates a story involving Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkummar Rao), whose name and photograph features as the book's author. What happens next finds the crux of this sweet rom com that has a delightful twist.
The writers Nitesh Tiwari and Shreyas Jain maintain the small town middle-class milieu of the Hindi heartland to perfection. Keeping it tongue-in-cheek with healthy humor, delightful and quirky situations BAREILLY KI BARFI remains constantly engaging. The characters are identifiable and likable speaking dialogues driven from our everyday life like 'Dekho toh raat bhar gumti hai, ladki hai koi chudail toh nahi'
Like her previous film Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's narration is lyrical and simple. More on the mainstream format and working on a known genre of Bollywood rom-coms that has its common elements, the helmer does a remarkable job in bringing freshness in the narrative. The movie moves smoothly like a delightful evening with your valentine.
Kriti Sanon fits perfectly as Bitti and charms you throughout. She steals your heart in this author backed role that gives her all the opportunity to explore and she fits the bill. Ayushmann Khurrana's character gives a faint remembrance of his character in MERI PYARI BINDU but later it dips into different shades giving him the scope to improvise and he does it with delight.
Rajkummar Rao is the one who gets the extra bite of this sweet barfi in his role as Pritam Vidrohi, aptly named, the actor's exceptional transition from being a shy, saree selling salesman to a street smart rogue is sheer brilliance. Rao rules the second half with his amazing act. Outstanding.
Pankaj Mishra and Seema Pahwa are outstanding in adding major value as Mummy and Papa.
Technically superb with first rate production values. Gavemic U Ary's peeping cinematography adds a new dimension.
Music by Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Tanishk Bagchi, Samira Koppikar, Sameer Uddin and Vayu is good and peppy numbers like 'Sweety Tera Drama' and 'Twist Kamariya' keeps you going.
On the flip side, the movie fails to redefine or make any statements on relationships. A director like Ashwini Iyer Tiwari who has raised the bar in her very first film is bound to evoke expectations from the thinking audience and here we find the director fall prey to the known first and second movie syndrome. Your first movie is the one which normally you have been planning and having in mind for quite some time, it's the second film that underlines the genius in exceptional talents like Ashwini Iyer Tiwari. Here we failed to get that 'magic'.
But in no way, BAREILLY KI BARFI is the one to be missed. Ashwini Iyer Tiwari has fulfilled the desires of a feel good mainstream rom-com in BAREILLY KI BARFI. It is delightfully sweet, delicious, comes with a twist and is powered by top notch performance from Kirti Sanon, Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao.