Bareilly Ki Barfi is an extraordinary portrayal of ordinary lives in a small town. The story may be simple but the characters that populate the story are definitely not. Bitti Mishra (Kriti Sanon) is a free spirited daughter of a sweetmeat shop owner. Doted on by both parents, her father (Pankaj Tripathi) is a mild mannered person while mother (Seema Pahwa) is perennially looking out for prospective grooms. Bitti has lost hope that any man will choose a cigarette smoking, liquor drinking and temperamental girl like her till she reads Bareilly Ki Barfi. The book has hardly found any buyers and even Bitti buys it because it was sold to her cheap. Once she reads it, she realizes the titular character in the book sounds just like her. She believes that the author has a deep understanding and acceptance of a person like her and would probably love her for who she is.
Only it is not as straightforward as it seems. The real author Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana) has hidden behind a friend, Pritam Vidrohi’s (Rajkummar Rao) name and image to write the book. Pritam is a timid person who Chirag has always bullied. Chirag decides to continue the charade and not disclose he is the real author. Trouble erupts when both Pritam and Bitti begin to like each other. Whatever Chirag does to get the new suitor out of the picture backfires. Pritam even ingratiates himself with Bitti’s parents.
The smartly written script is further enhanced by excellent performances by all actors across the board. In fact, this film would have been nowhere near where it is if not for the excellent casting. Kriti Sanon is a very effective Bitti and even though Ayushmann Khurrana’s character has ample shades of grey, you still root for him. Rajkumar Rao is like a chameleon as he switches back and forth between a meek person unable to stand up for himself to an arrogant rogue. Another casting masterstroke is Seema Pahwa and Pankaj Tripathi. As a mother that most girls in small towns will identify with, she is forever looking for a suitable groom. As a new potential match is identified, the previous one is dropped as amply reflected in the mother’s fawning or discarding treatment depending on the likelihood of the man becoming a suitor for her daughter. Pankaj, being a seasoned actor, hits just the right notes, never veering off the tightrope that he has walked throughout the film.
This is Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s second film after Nil Battey Sannata. She knows how to tell weave a tale. Even a simple story is made rich through minute tidbits. The visual way of showing the conjugal relationship between Seema and Pankaj (he talks to a snoring wife while looking at a barely moving ceiling fan) negates any need for words to explain their relationship. There are many such scenes that you will remember long after the film is over.
This is a smart, funny, engaging and intelligent film of small town romance that will keep you hooked from beginning to end. What more can one ask for?
Rating : 3/5
Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Ayushmann Khurrana, Kriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi, Seema Pahwa
Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari