As a filmmaker, Anurag has already proven his worth with some entertaining and thoroughly engaging feature films, and even with some interesting work on television. But this one sets him apart in many ways. He has hardly compromised with his creative vision, despite the film having an A-list star-cast and a big studio-backing.
The film tells an endearing story. Two of the protagonists - including the eponymous one - are differently-abled (challenged, according to the so-called politically incorrect) and yet the film has happened to strike just the right chords, it has hit the right notes at the box-office too. The film has been called a mini-masterpiece by some, while some have lauded it as the most broad-based emotionally overwhelming film made in recent times.
Anurag Basu has told the tale with some amount of freshness and with a lot of passion and optimism. Ranbir Kapoor in the title role (Murphy, which in the flawed utterance becomes Barfi!), as a deaf-mute guy, oozes cherubic warmth and divine energy, and Priyanka Chopra, as the autistic girl, Jhilmil, has her own moments of brilliance. There is also the other important character, Shruti (played by Illeana D'Cruz, making her Hindi film debut), that stands out in a refreshingly muted way; ironically it is she who threads the narrative with a voice-over that breezes all over with back-and-forth forays (flashbacks and 'super' flashbacks!).
The viewers would love the ride. I loved it, honestly. I chuckled, smiled, laughed, sobbed and relished the magical moments that played out on the big screen. I cheered for Barfi, I delighted in his exploits, I surrendered to the simplistic charm and innocence in the synthetic recreation of the Seventies.
I would excuse Basu the digressions and the indulgences (which has a distinctive flavor of the Tamil/Telugu films) and also the show-offish excesses. They are but minor flaws. What I took home was the abundance of love and tenderness and sensitive portrayals, and some meaty moments packed in minuscule segments. The film celebrates life, love, and hope.
In one of the promotionals for the film, the cast members put it brilliantly, that a viewer would take from this life-affirming film the kind of flavor that essentially defines him/her and the kind of flavor that he/she would like to permeate in his/her life.
Barfi, the character, is a heart-stealer, and so is the film.