'Barfi!' isn't the kind of film that is made keeping in mind the moolah that may flow in. It is made for the love of the story that a filmmaker means to tell.
While this translates into the fact that Anurag Basu (after 'Kites') could finally tell a tale in a way he wanted, there are also occasional hiccups (especially in the second half) that can be left ignored due to the right intentions as well as the bravura act of Ranbir that you carry home.
Anurag Basu adapts Gulzar style of storytelling with 'Barfi!' and though the film has absolutely nothing to do with 'Aandhi', except for the fact that an old love (Ileana D'Cruz) comes back into the life of 'Barfi' (Ranbir Kapoor), you do feel the influence.
A similar back and forth style of narrative coupled with a woman's reignited feeling of love for the one she could well have settled down earlier, 'Barfi!' has the kind of touch that Gulzar has been famous for his films, right till 'Maachis' which again boasted of a similar story telling.
Just like Gulzar, even Anurag Basu keeps things simple. This means that things aren't over exaggerated and there are quite a few 'smile through' moments, especially when Ranbir is wooing Ileana. In fact it won't be wrong to say that these are the most entertaining moments of the film. Meanwhile there are glimpses of Priyanka Chopra thrown in as well though it has to be mentioned that she makes a full fledged appearance only towards the interval point.
While the blossoming love story between her and Ranbir does have it's moments, especially the ones around 'hold-me-by-my-finger' which is truly heart tugging, you do wish to go back to Ileana and know more about what happened to her.
This is exactly the reason why the second half doesn't quite hold as good as the first half. Also the pull one expected in the story isn't as strong, what with Ranbir's journey between Darjeeling and Kolkata only turning out to be a tad distracting. Add to that the whole kidnapping drama three times over and you do feel like getting cut off from how 'Barfi!' had started and where it landed.
Frankly, it's the last 20-30 minutes where things get into 'let's-join-the-dots' mode. The pace gets a little uneven, the smiles that were following Ranbir all through out get a little faded and Ileana's return to him after taking the one big bold step seems a little out of place.
This is the reason why most of the moments that stand out are the ones in the first half which involve Ranbir-Ileana love story and later (spoilers ahead) that brief portion in the second half where Ileana gets to a stage where she almost does a Hazel Keech from Salman Khan's 'Bodyguard'.
What enables the film to keep peaking at regular intervals though is one man - Ranbir Kapoor. One can keep assigning adjectives to his act but rest assured, he would be pretty much finding himself in the awards arena at every function next year. He more than just justifies his selection for the film and his mannerisms, body language, smile, angst, pathos, quest for smaller things in life and reasons to be happy are what make 'Barfi!' endearing.
Ileana, an accomplished actress from down South, makes a very worthy start in Bollywood and lights up the screen every time she comes on screen, especially in her younger portions as an unmarried girl.
Moreover she also gives a good range of her acting skills when she enacts the part of a married woman and later in her 60s. Priyanka, who comes on her own mainly in the second half, conveys everything through her body language and after '7 Khoon Maaf' shows once again that how she is up for challenges at every juncture of her career.
Of course what aids the film's narrative in a big way are Pritam's compositions as well as the background score. For a film with not a single lip synch song or an added item number, the music really holds you well and goes with the simplicity and serenity of the setting that 'Barfi!' enjoys.
So different from the routine tales where one gets to see a regular love story unfolding, 'Barfi!' unfolds almost like chapters from a novel. While this definitely brings in a uniqueness quotient, at times you also feel that while some chapters are utmost engaging and also extremely enjoyable, a few end up making you a tad impatient as well.