26 January 2013
BARFI (Dir. Anurag Basu, 2012, India) - Frames within a frame
Based on Anurag Basu’s last film Kites, which was a horrible critical failure, and the rest of his merely average career as a director, expectations were fairly low for Barfi. I had avoided Barfi largely because of Priyanka’s histrionics in the trailer. Nevertheless, Barfi is a real surprise. The foremost achievement about the film is in regards to the cinematography by Ravi Varman who bathes the pictorial scenery of Darjeeling and Calcutta in a nostalgic glow. Basu with the aid of his DP Varman conjures up a magical realism through a compositional strategy that readily employs doorways and windows to frame his characters so they become microscopic or magnified in a world that alienates and enchants them. Basu takes his cue from the silent cinema clowns such as Chaplin and Keaton in the construction of Ranbir Kapoor’s mischievous protagonist ‘Barfi’. Although the film nearly collapses in the final third with what is an overly sentimental ending, what kept interested more than anything else was Basu and Varman’s surprisingly refreshing ability to find new ways of framing the characters.