Meet the Bareilly-bred lover boys! (Photo: The Quint/Harsh Sahani)
Movie Reviews

‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ Review: Great Performances Sweeten the Deal

Producer: Abishek Ranjan

Cameraperson: Athar Rather

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui

Most Bollywood films like to show two distinct avatars of India. There is the Zoya Akhtar/Karan Johar universe that is riddled with first-world problems, like not having enough time to shop at the duty-free stores at airports. Here, all that glitters is gold.

Then there is the one that isn’t photoshopped for comfort. This is a world of unvarnished walls and narrow serpentine galis, of places that are marinated in desi flavours and dialects. Viewers tend to accept both versions – but only when done well. After all, films aren’t just about the locations they are set in – they are about the people in those settings.

If these people on screen can convince us to care enough about their lives, then we will see them through till the end. And it is here that Bareilly Ki Barfi spreads its sweet magic.

Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, who also directed the delightful Nil Battey Sannata, manages to keep this a simple and honest tale. Only, this one is a little more commercially viable and smart.

Kriti Sanon, seen here in her first outing without any make-up, brightens up Bareilly as  Bitti Mishra, the only child of her school teacher mother (Seema Pahwah) and sweetshop owner father (Pankaj Tripathi). She drinks, smokes and stays out late. From these, the viewers are supposed to infer that she must be an emancipated woman. This is a rather conveniently-drawn conclusion but the charm of the film convinces us to overlook this flaw. Suitors come and go, but Bitti keeps getting rejected for not being gharelu enough.

Bitti’s life changes with her search for the author of a book, titled Bareilly Ki Barfi, the protagonist of which is her kindred spirit. The search for the author ends in Ayushmann Khurana.

The turning point in the film comes with the entry of Rajkummar Rao.

The story is no great shakes – it is simple, uni-dimensional and predictable. But the performances are exceptional, the dialogues are authentic and their delivery is kadak.

Be it Pankaj Tripathi and Seema Pahwah as Bitti’s hysterical parents, or Ayushman Khurrana and Rajkumar Rao as the Bareilly-bred lover boys hatching plans for their future, it is the actors who lift this script. This is also Kriti Sanon’s best performance till date.

With a runtime of just two hours, Bareilly Ki Barfi does seem a little too long for comfort. But thanks to the way Rajkummar Rao sweetens this Barfi by alternating between his shy, but well-meaning smalltown boy act with the acquired swag of a mohalle ka gunda, we are only too happy to swing along.

I give it 3.5 Quints out of 5.

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