Billu Movie Review

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What happens when the uncrowned commercial numero – uno composer, Pritam (BHOOL BHULAIYYA, WELCOME, RACE, SINGH IS KINNG and GOLMAAL RETURNS etc.), the king of comedies Priyadarshan and the reigning 'baadshah' of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan come together? Well, expectations naturally assume humongous proportions, what with Pritam, Priyan and SRK, all riding high on their spate of successes. Another factor that comes in to play here is that the movie is a Shah Rukh Khan home banner production, and one can be assured that a lot of ground work has been done to make it a superlative one. So, without wasting much time lets get on with the audio of the album of BILLU BARBER.

Bollywood's global superstar, Shah Rukh Khan, playing an extended guest appearance in the film, gets the first four songs of the album. The first three are the much talked about item numbers, featuring the hot and happening top female leads of Bollywood.

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Let us get on with the first one, 'Marjaani', which features SRK with his ASOKA babe, Kareena Kapoor (after the DON scorcher), the promos of which have been rocking the satellite channels and FM radio stations. The song has three versions.

The first one is simply 'Marjaani' and it?s a very typical Pritam like start to an innovative composition, 'Marjaani' and we have coined a new term (without meaning to hurt sentiments) for it, a sufi-item number! Yes, although the song is a typical item number when it comes to musical arrangements but the lyrics are sufi. At times they are interspersed with Punjabi lingo, to make it more appealing. And they are written by none other than the master craftsman, Gulzar. ?Deed hai theek, Dekh sab kuch theek hai, Paas hai sab kuchh, Rab nazdeek hai, Rab ke hazur mein kasmein bhi khaali, Duniya ki auni pauni rasmein nibhaleen'. And it?s Sukhwinder Singh (who shares such strong vibes with SRK) who has been assigned to do the honour, along with the reigning queen of item numbers, Sunidhi Chauhan. Do we need to say that they are simply eclectic together? Well, its a fact that can be taken for granted. Sukhi is still ruling the hearts and charts through his 'Haule Haule' which has become a sort of an anthem. Although this song may not reach that pinnacle of success but it will prove to be a hit number nonetheless and succeed in ushering in the audience, what with Shah Rukh looking absolutely divine and Bebo delicious in a superbly choreographed item number.

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The second version is 'Marjaani (Kilogram's Balkan Mix)' and is remixed by Kilogram K&G. As a variation we have K.K. and Akriti Kakkar belting out this number that has at its base the Russian instrument, Balalaika and its deadly rhythm and its definitely better (due to musical orchestrations) than the first one.

The third version is the 'Marjaani(Electro House)' and has been remixed by DJ Sunil and Spinz and is the usual remix with super fast tempo and dispersed vocals as well as added synth beats.

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Pulsating electronic and synthesized beats and vigorous drumming commence the second item number, 'Love Mera Hit Hit' and this number is surely a rollicking one. In fact this number is better than 'Marjaani', and a lot of the credit goes to its lead singer, Neeraj Shridhar, who is absolutely mind-blowing in a number that has all the essential ingredients of a chartbuster. This is the first time that Neeraj is singing for King Khan and he deserves to be showered with accolades for putting in his all. Tulsi Kumar has certainly matured as singer since her ZEHER days and she is not saccharine sweet as she used to be. But it?s an item number that is dominated by Neeraj and his brilliant rendition. The lyrics are jointly written by Ashish Pandit and Mayur Puri and must say that they are routine but they do have the capability to attract the youth, who will find it novel and easy to hum. A surefire chartbuster! It will be a treat for all the fans of Shah Rukh Khan as he and his OM SHANTI OM co-star, the hottest new face of Bollywood, Deepika come together to set the floors and in turn, the discos, night clubs and pubs on fire through this number.

The two versions are the remixed one. First up is 'Love Mera Hit Hit (House Mix)' and its DJ Amyth who has been given the responsibility, and though he starts off well and it appears that we are on track for a marvelous remix but he loses way and in the end its a routine job, heightened tempo and beats!

The second version is by the lesser known DJ Chetas and DJ NYK and has been mixed by Gautam Chakraborty, but it?s definitely a novel approach to remixing. The song has been spiced up with more thumping beats and musical arrangements that really rock to the core. The introduction part in rap form where SRK, Pritam and the DJs are mentioned is well done. The only grudge here is that the tempo is a tad too fast.

Last (of the item numbers) but not the least is 'You Get Me Rockin & Reeling' featuring Shah Rukh Khan and his beautiful, hot n sexy DON girl, Priyanka Chopra, and once again we have three versions of the track. Let?s check them one by one.

The first one is a solo by Pritam's favourite item singer and lucky charm, Neeraj Sridhar. Coming to the song, this number comes as a sort of anti climax after hearing two super fast, heavy in orchestration dance oriented numbers. This one is more in the league of the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's dance numbers and a hangover to Shah Rukh's own, 'Pretty Woman' music is present. But we should give credit as Pritam has managed to make it peppier, more in sync with today's times by adding the beautiful female chorus and background croonings as well as rap. This is one of those rare numbers where the 'antara' is catchier than its 'mukhda', the 'mukhda' being inspired from S-E-L's own hit title track of SALAAM-E-ISHQ. Neeraj Sridhar is a revelation in this beautiful, melodious track as he sings softly; his hushed, inebriated vocals are a listener's delight. And one person who deserves to be mentioned is the lyricist Sayeed Quadri, whose dreamy, romantic lyrics are enchanting. The fusion of simple English and Urdu is excellent and one can safely say that this number will definitely appeal to the youth and children as well as also to the overseas audience.

All Shahrukh Khan has to do is play himself. It comes off effortlessly. In one scene, where one of the school trustees tries to get too familiar, he puts him in place in his own inimitable way. He also refers to the ''Khan fights,'' as something that happens in any family and ''this film industry is one big family.'' His speech to the schoolchildren is inspiring; full marks to the scriptwriter. Here is when he tells the kids of this being the best years of their life. Here is when he reminisces of the best years of his life and of the time when he had nothing and how a friend helped him out. Sharing his tiffin in school, because he never had food, inspiring him and regaling him with impersonations of film stars, thus igniting in him a desire to reach for the stars; giving him a hair cut sneaking into his father's saloon and even selling off his earrings and giving him the money to go to the city to pursue his dreams. That was the last he saw of BILLU.

Billu who is at the venue with his wife is teary-eyed. His wife looks back with such pride that their whole relationship is captured in one freezing moment. Never once had he mentioned what relationship he shared with the superstar. Shahir comes home to meet his Billu. The reunion is poignant. Both the Khans elevate the scene with their power-packed emotional performance.

While Irrfan is outstanding, SRK lends his class and appeal to the script. Lara Dutta is a revelation. She blends well into Billu's life. Irfan's kids played by Pratik Dalvi and Mitali Mayekar are first rate. The rest of the cast combine well with their support. What's surprising is that Priyadarshan has got the usually 'over the top' Rasika Joshi (the school principal) to give a restrained performance.

The director has got the mood and feel of the film spot on. This movie has soul and it will move you.

You can snip off the 'barber' from Billu, but you cannot take off Billu from Barber. In other words, you can get Irrfan Khan to alienate himself from his persona, but you cannot get the actor to get away from his character! His act is complete. And his Billu is a believable character, who could be you.

Irrfan fascinates in his portrayal of a struggling family man with a wife and two kids, with no knowledge of where is next income will come from. His barber's shop in a village in Gudgude is doing bad business, he has no clients left and even his barbers chair can give way any moment. His acerbic tongue, peppered with humour (the joke life has played on him is evident here) does not leave him with many friends and he is constantly requesting the school principal for more time to pay off his children's school fees. Even his children take off after him, where giving a repartee is concerned. BILLU takes it all in good humour and continues his struggle while adding some laugh to his measly existence. His wife (Lara Dutta) is a perfect foil to his character. No one understands Billu better than her.

Then, one fine day, the village is in a tizzy. Shahir Khan (Shahrukh Khan), the reigning superstar of Bollywood, has chosen this very village for his next film's shooting. Suddenly there is news of him being Billu's friend. The whole village takes a U-turn. The Principal comes to his home to give him the good news that his children's education will now be funded from the school Trust and all he has to do is to get Shahir Khan to their school function. Billu's dilemma has just begun. There are hordes of other such requests, which Billu cannot deny and he portrays it brilliantly with his eyes and body language.

So, does Billu really know Shahir Khan? This is the suspense that Priyadarshan builds up. And as a viewer, you are impatient to know the truth as well. Billu does not help matters, with him not forthcoming with any information. Even when his wife asks him whether he really knows the superstar all he says with a wry smile is, ''What difference does it make.'' You wonder then what BILLU is all about.

Priyadarshan has veered slightly away from his trademark comedy and he handles the subject with sensitivity. Yes, there is his humour, where one scene in particular has you in splits, where the hotel manager requests Shahir for a bit role in the film. On the whole, he juxtaposes the lives of two contrasting characters to make for an inspiring climax.

All Shahrukh Khan has to do is play himself. It comes off effortlessly. In one scene, where one of the school trustees tries to get too familiar, he puts him in place in his own inimitable way. He also refers to the ''Khan fights,'' as something that happens in any family and ''this film industry is one big family.'' His speech to the schoolchildren is inspiring; full marks to the scriptwriter. Here is when he tells the kids of this being the best years of their life. Here is when he reminisces of the best years of his life and of the time when he had nothing and how a friend helped him out. Sharing his tiffin in school, because he never had food, inspiring him and regaling him with impersonations of film stars, thus igniting in him a desire to reach for the stars; giving him a hair cut sneaking into his father's saloon and even selling off his earrings and giving him the money to go to the city to pursue his dreams. That was the last he saw of BILLU.

Billu who is at the venue with his wife is teary-eyed. His wife looks back with such pride that their whole relationship is captured in one freezing moment. Never once had he mentioned what relationship he shared with the superstar. Shahir comes home to meet his Billu. The reunion is poignant. Both the Khans elevate the scene with their power-packed emotional performance.

While Irrfan is outstanding, SRK lends his class and appeal to the script. Lara Dutta is a revelation. She blends well into Billu's life. Irfan's kids played by Pratik Dalvi and Mitali Mayekar are first rate. The rest of the cast combine well with their support. What's surprising is that Priyadarshan has got the usually 'over the top' Rasika Joshi (the school principal) to give a restrained performance.

The director has got the mood and feel of the film spot on. This movie has soul. It will move you.

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