Too much sugar in this barfi
'Bareilly Ki Barfi' opens on a note of distress. The head of the Mishra family, residents of the small town of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, is scouting for his pack of cigarettes early morning. Unable to find one, he interrupts his wife (Seema Pahwa) from her daily prayers, who dismisses his interjection until he makes a unique request. 'Ask Bitti for one,' he suggests, alluding to their daughter, whose boisterous behaviour is reason enough for this mother to believe that she is plagued with flaws. This introduction establishes the relationship between the father (Pankaj Tripathi) and his daughter (Kriti Sanon), who was raised 'like a boy' by the former, even occasionally being offered a whiff.
Bitti's charm grows on you almost instantly. She is easily agitated, laughs with her heart, and is unperturbed about flinging a book on a sleepy vendor, or shunning an old lady snoozing on her shoulder. Sanon, as the emotional protagonist, will occasionally remind you of Geet (Kareena Kapoor Khan) in 'Jab We Met' (2007), or Kaira (Alia Bhatt) in 'Dear Zindagi', only, she carries a charm that's entirely hers. Bothered by her mother's chiding over her inability to appease the men arriving to ask for her hand, Bitti makes a dash to explore a life away from home, only to stumble upon a book, Bareilly Ki Barfi, whose protagonist, she finds, has traits reminiscent of her. She returns home to scout for the author, almost convinced he's the man of her life. A local vendor – the original author of the book -- Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana) offers to help her search for Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkummar Rao), whose name the book is credited to. Dubey finds in Bitti the traits he did in past love interest, also his muse for his book, and hopes to put an end to the 'vanvas' in his love life. But Bitti, smitten by the man who she believes had penned the book, has her hopes pinned on Vidrohi. Dubey trains Vidrohi to put on the front of a quintessential misogynist, the kind of man Bitti would be averse to. But even with his unrefined manners, Vidrohi wins hearts.
Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, who made an acclaimed debut with the Swara Bhaskar-starrer 'Nil Battey Sannata' (2016), returns with another film that portrays the lives of the people in a small town. But, unlike the former, which was backed by a strong plot, this one hangs on a threadbare storyline. You're often left wondering why a girl as unabashed as Bitti crumbles under self-doubt when exposed to the misogynistic world that doesn't find in her, a suitable bride. Or how an inhibited Vidrohi, often mistreated by his 'buddy' Dubey, grows brash enough to take him on towards the latter half.
Rao, who put on crackling performance is the recently released 'Trapped' and 'Raabta', delivers yet again, both, as the demure friend and the garish man he presents himself to be. His earnest performance may even pull you through the film. However, 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' has several dull moments, which speaks of an editing that wasn't crisp enough.
The film's dialogues are impeccably written and aptly included. Chuckles seamlessly grow to laughs, applauds even, as the writers (Nitesh Tiwari, Shreyas Jain and Rajat Nonia) successfully capture the flavour of life in this town. A scene sees Bitti's mother appeal to her friend, Dubey, to prevent her from stepping out late, stating, “Raat raat bhar bahar rehti hai, ladki hai, chudail nahin.” In another, alluding to Vidrohi, Dubey says, “Padosi ke bete ko aam ke jhaad pe chadha rahein hain. Neeche aaya to aam milega, gira to tervi pe milega.” Words like these make you realise the dialogues haven't only been written to inspire giggles, but to aptly depict relationships as well.
Unfortunately, they are all that you remember the film by.