On one hand, Bollywood has been making big budgeted films like Jagga Jasoos and Jab Harry Met Sejal which are bombing at the box office while on the other hand, they are producing films like Bareilly Ki Barfi that should serve as a template for our filmmakers. The film doesn’t have a star cast yet the acting is near flawless; the director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari doesn’t have 100-crore rupee hits to her name, yet the execution is perfect. The plot may revolve around a small city but the characters make the story interesting.
In the city of Bareilly, a young tomboy Bitti (Kriti Sanon) lives a normal life – she has a steady job, has a loving father, a mother who cares about her in her own way and a bestie with whom she can share everything. All she needs to make her life perfect is someone who loves and understands her – enters Chiragh (Ayushmann Khurrana) who runs a printing press and moonlights as a writer, using the name of his friend Pritam (Rajkummar Rao). Bitti loves the book Chiragh has written since it talks about her, but there is one problem – Pritam’s name is on the back cover and she wants to meet him. Pritam is MIA since the book’s publication but Chiragh sets out on a mission to enlist him to help him get married to Bitti. Perfect love triangle, no?
What makes Bareilly Ki Barfi a must-watch is its wonderfully penned script and dialogues besides the emotive acting of its cast. Nitesh Tiwari, Shreyas Jain and Rajat Nonia must be credited for making a simple story into a brilliant one while all the actors including the leads were spot on with their performance. This film is like Titanic when compared to Ayushmann’s last flick Meri Pyari Bindu while Rajkummar Rao as the friend we take for granted is brilliant. The scenes featuring both make you laugh as one is trying hard to impress the girl’s family while the other impresses them easily by being something he is not.
Kriti Sanon has come a long way as an actor and she shines as the cause of disagreement between two hunks, but on her own terms and in her own way. She looks breathtakingly beautiful in every frame she is in and ignites the screen as the patakha of her area. It was good to see Pankaj Tripathi play his age as Bitti’s father especially after trying to play a young gangster in Munna Michael. The director must also be commended for coming up with a win-win project where there is no dull moment for the audience who clap when something unexpected takes place. Well, I did! •
Akshay Kumar may have been in the industry as long as Shah Rukh Khan but he knows the tricks of the trade better – after one less successful film, he does a phenomenal film that takes him ahead of King Khan and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is one such endeavour. The film deals with a pressing issue in India – lack of toilets – and one man’s journey to get one made in his house so his wife can stay with him.
In a village where the story takes place, the women defecate in the open... something Keshav (Akshay Kumar) forgets to tell his wife Jaya (Bhumi Pednekar) before marriage. She refuses to live with him when she finds out that in order to use the toilet she has to go the extra mile for no reason. The father refuses to have a toilet in their home, which makes matters worse. Does Keshav succeed in luring his wife back home? Does Jaya stay at her parents’ place where there is a toilet for the entire household. Do the lovebirds live happily ever after or not? Watch the film to know who wins and who loses but know that not having enough toilets is a huge issue in India, if not in Pakistan.
Despite its unusual name and subject, the film manages to keep the audience engrossed for its entire run. There are moments where the writer and director could have slipped in a toilet joke but they refrain from doing so, making it a mature take on a serious subject. Akshay Kumar is brilliant from the start till the end while Bhumi Pednekar comes out as a good find – she has nothing much to do in the first act but in the next two she shines in every possible way. Divyendu plays the younger brother and is great with his one-liners while Shoba Khote and Sudhir Pandey support the main cast with their natural acting. You want to hate the Pandit character because of the energy he brings to the film, and that is one of the many reasons to watch the movie and educate the audience. •
Pakistan’s film industry touched rock bottom with Nadeem Cheema’s Geo Sar Utha Kay that tried to pay tribute to the police force but ended up as a lacklustre attempt to churn out a blockbuster. The film was not only released at a bad time but also had a cast that absolutely had no pull effect on the audience, making it one of the worst films of the worst year in Pakistani cinema’s history.
The film is set in a fictional village of Rajnapur where Kalu (Shafqat Cheema) is the king of the area; he does everything that is bad in the book of ethics and even has the police under his command but that does not stop Sherry and Friends from going to the troubled area to avenge the death of their friend. They get help from unknown quarters and manage to save the villagers from the wrath of Kalu but not before losing a few loved ones here and there.
There is not just one reason why Geo Sar Utha Kay couldn’t do well in cinemas; there are many. First, the casting could have been much better – Shehryar Cheema looks like a kid who wants to be in police rather than a police officer. Umar Cheema looked good but he needs to work on his acting to make it big in the industry. There was no reason given for a Sikh friend except the fact that the producer wanted to attract people belonging to the religion. The first act dealt with toilet humour, while the climax was over the top instead of being closer to reality, as claimed in the film’s disclaimer. Shafqat Cheema did nothing new except copying the Shahenshah moves from Big B’s movie, while same goes for veterans Nayyar Ejaz and Rashid Mehmood.
Babar Ali was the only redeeming factor in the entire film, as he knew how to act and how to react. If this film had become a hit, it would have been due to Babar Ali alone – the songs were pathetic like the actresses in the film who had no impact on the plot and on the audience. Such films bring down the public’s expectations and should be evaluated before being censored so that the films coming after them don’t suffer much. •
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