Bitti Mishra (Kriti Sanon) is the unabated, small-town tomboy, a sly Bareilly electricity board employee, break dancer, occasional smoker and drinker, and part-comprehending viewer of English movies. Her parents (Pankaj Tripathi and Seema Pahwa) are introduced by the off-putting narration as 'not normal' (The old world Hindi novel-like narration is redundant and unnecessary). Unlike typical Indian small-town parents, they don't impose themselves on Bitti.
When the unconventional, free-spirited Bitti gets repeatedly rejected by prospective grooms, she dejectedly decides to leave town. At the railway bookstall, she stumbles upon a novel called 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' by Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkummar Rao). The female lead is (surprise!surprise!) exactly like Bitti. Mystified, Bitti cancels her fleeing plans, desirous to meet this mysterious writer. Enter Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana).
Love Triangle With Laughs
Despite the far off echoes of the Sanjay Dutt-Salman Khan-Madhuri Dixit love triangle Saajan (1991), Bareilly Ki Barfi has a now familiar semi-rural authentic zeal, color, clean humor and occasional zing.
Midway, there are clear hints as to how it will go. A lesser director would have delivered this cold and dull. But director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari takes sufficient clever diversions to keep us guessing in this sweet, funny film.
Rajkummar Rao Towers Over the Cast
Kriti Sanon has matured into a good actor, far cry from her dull-faced Hindi debut Heropanti (2014). Ayushmann Khurrana is competent, dependable and sporty, adding ample conviction to his tortured, selfish lover role. The Chirag-Pritam interactions showcase great male lead chemistry.
Pankaj Tripathi, so hilariously brilliant in the director's previous release Nil Battey Sannata (2016) is in his element here. It is Rajkummar Rao's innocent sari salesman and induced-tough guy act that is stand out terrific. Rao battles the character's uneven turns, to create a compelling, laugh-out-loud meek, good-hearted part.
Sweet Minus Bite
Bareilly Ki Barfi sticks to its conventional romantic comedy journey, takes its time to crackle, makes us laugh loud and ends tad predictable, without that necessary elevated bite.
For its fluent editing, performances, genre-faithful writing, and assured direction, Bareilly Ki Barfi is a good (*** out of ***** stars) bet at the cinemas this week. It is not a laugh riot, but balanced and intelligently made.