Anurag Basu’s Barfi!

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Barfi! directed by Anurag Basu, has pleased audiences and critics alike and recently made it to the 100cr club, and has entertained fans the world over. Besides the great response from critics, fans and the industry Barfi! has another feather in its cap because it has been chosen as the film that is suppose to take India to the Oscars next year. 

And even though Ranbir Kapoor, who plays the lead in the film, is honored Basu says they still have a long way to go as the film is only the official entry from India and has not received a nomination yet.

Recently Basu talked about his work and Barfi!, here are some highlights:

Basu has worked for a long time on this film. After he fell ill with cancer Basu wrote some of his darkest films like Gangster and Life in a Metro. “What brought me out of my illness was my positivity. My view of life changed. My priorities changed. Initially, I was only after fame, money and getting publicity but it all became useless after I saw death so closely.” He feels Barfi! is his coming-of-age film. It’s not a perfect film, but this is my most personal film.”

Happiness in the smallest things

He realized that we can find happiness in the smallest of things in daily life, but because we are so driven with our ambitions, we normally don’t see that. “We have forgotten selfless love. So that was the idea behind the film that you can find happiness in the small things of life. And people with disabilities can also find this happiness while so-called normal people often miss this aspect.”

Celebrate life

With Barfi! the director wants to celebrate life. “I try and make films which are different from each other but yes, this is my first U (Universal) certificate film which is more friendly for family audiences. I wanted to make a film, which talks about celebrating life. So I was looking for a story where I could flex my directorial muscles and narrate the story visually and not depend on spoken words. Barfi! gave me this opportunity.”

The response

He adds that he never expected this kind of response. “Honestly, I didn’t expect this kind of a response. I knew this was a special film and perhaps it would not be that viable but I still wanted it to make money so I kept the budget as tight as possible (at about $6 million). It is not a flawless film but I am pleased with the way audiences have responded.”

Tribute to the silent era

When you have watched the film a lot of scenes instantly remind you of Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton. Even a few scenes are taken from those films. Basu says this is his tribute to the silent era. 

“The tribute is a conscious decision. I got introduced to Charlie Chaplin quite late in my life. It was amazing how he told stories without dialog. I have watched a lot of his films and of others like Buster Keaton from the silent era. And they have been one of my inspirations. When you do a film with a lot of physical comedy, Chaplin is a good reference point, so we paid tribute to some of the gags from his movies.”

Language barrier

Even today, now Bollywood is emerging and growing every day, language still seems to be a barrier. With Barfi! that problem doesn’t arise. “We’re toying with the idea of putting out an English version of the film, but those sections of non-Indian viewers who have seen Barfi! say it has the potential to break through the language barrier.”

Outstanding acting

Both performances of Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, as a deaf-and-mute boy and an autistic girl respectively, have been very much appreciated by critics and the audiences. “It’s so ironical that we Indian filmmakers get complimented when our actors give credible performances. Isn’t that a given for any film? I think my actors trusted me with what I had in mind.”

Next project
With Barfi! going to Film Festivals in Busan and Marrakech these coming months, Basu will now concentrate on making a small film. He will also be making the Kishore Kumar bio-pic together with Ranbir. “That will take some time, so I in the meanwhile I am making a small positive film.”

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