Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Bareilly Ki Barfi isn’t as impactful as her previous movie Nil Battey Sannata but it does manage to entertain you, says Shomini Sen
It isn’t a perfect film, but Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s latest, Bareilly Ki Barfi, will surely make you chuckle at its very north Indian humour. Set in Uttar Pradesh’s small town Bareilly, the film is a predictable romantic comedy where you almost know who gets the girl in the end yet you will find yourself rooting for the two very endearing male leads.
The story is of a rather comical Mishra family in Bareilly where a liberal father (the fabulous Pankaj Tripathi) has raised his daughter Bitti (Kriti Sanon) more like a son. The father-daughter duo are like buddies where the daughter sneaks in a cigarette or two for the father much to the discomfort of her mother (Seema Pahwa) who is rather worried about her daughter’s marriage prospects.
Bitti works in the local electricity department and is quite aware that she is unconventional for the town she lives in and feels no one really understands her except author Pritam Vidrohi whose book Barelly Ki Barfi Bitti is completely hooked on to. A chance encounter and subsequent friendship with a printing press owner Chirag (Ayushmann Khurrana) leads Bitti to meet Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkummar Rao) who doesn’t quite turn up the way she had imagined him to be. But both men seem to be smitten and now compete for Bitti’s attention and love.
A Saajan style romance but lot less intense, Bareilly Ki Barfi mostly works because of its casting. Pankaj Tripathi and Seema Pahwa- known for their talent- make for an endearing couple. The scenes where Tripathi is trying to have a conversation with his snoring wife are actually quite funny. Tripathi may be a bit young to portray Sanon’s father’s role in the film yet the actor manages to deliver a memorable performance. The two friends – of Chirag’s and Bitti’s- are also pitch perfect and bring out the flavour of small town youth grappling to strike a balance between traditions and modernity.
Perhaps the person who struggles the most in her part is Kriti Sanon. She plays the central character of Bitti and the effort to slip into a small- town perky girl is rather evident. She looks too urban for her character in most frames. But the two men compensate for her. Khurrana, who has by now aced playing the character of a lovelorn small town boy to perfection makes Chirag quite believable. Chirag does appear a bit too polished for a small towner in certain scenes but that’s how the character is written.
Bareilly Ki Barfi though belongs to Rajkummar Rao who aces Pritam Vidrohi with absolute ease. The film has him playing two very distinct characters- one of a meek, mousy man desperate to get an approval from his peers and mother and the other of a ‘Rangbaaz’ rowdy, crass Lucknowi man who knows nothing about how to impress women. Rao’s versatility is well-known and he slips into the two distinct characters beautifully. Some of the funniest scenes in the film have Rao oscillating between a meek man who whimpers and a man who is too loud and crass for his own good.
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s debut film Nil Battey Sannata was a little gem. Her second film isn’t as impactful as the first yet it manages to entertain you despite its predictability and a somewhat weak heroine. Watch it to get a flavour of UP and its dialect and more importantly watch it for the incredible Rajkummar Rao.
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