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The most anticipated movie of the month, Billu, has released at last alongside all the expectations and all the excitement. Does the Hindi remake of the Malayalam hit Kadha Parayumbol (2007) live up to the expectations or does it fail to create an impression? Read on…

Even though the film has been in the news mostly for the title change in the last minute, the movie states the title as Billu Barber. Behind a series of slapstick comedies, Priyadarshan seems to have decided to try different kinds of genres. He opted for thriller for the first time in Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007) and the film became a smash hit. This time, Priyadarshan opts for an emotional drama with a pinch of comedy. And unsurprisingly, the 61-film-old director does not disappoint.

Billu deals with the story of a poor village barber Bilas Rao Pardesi (Irrfan Khan), his wife Bindiya (Lara Dutta), and his kids. Stuck with the job of a barber and all he can afford is his old chair, scissors and comb with barely any customers in his barber shop, life is very bitter for Billu and his family. Until one day, superstar Sahir Khan (Shahrukh Khan) arrives in the village scheduling a shoot of a film. The whole village gets cheerful on his arrival and everything changes afterwards. All the villagers change their treatment towards Billu after a rumor is spread that he is Sahir’s childhood friend and they all ask him to bring the superstar over to meet them. Once he fails in his mission, everybody starts misbehaving with him. Billu thinks Sahir has forgotten him after the years – he thinks that he wouldn’t remember him now that he’s a rich man. But all of Billu’s doubts are put to an end when Sahir talks about his past and his childhood friend, Billu, in a conference with a school. Later on, Billu and Sahir finally meet, confessing what they have down pat about their early days.

The first half of the film focuses on introducing the main characters and the scattering rumor of Billu being Sahir Khan’s childhood friend. The second half shows the villagers’ reaction and their treatment of Billu. Priyadarshan does an awe-inspiring job in terms of direction. Although the film tends to be a tad boring, kudos to the last 20 minutes that is the highlight of the film! Amongst the best sequences include the one where SRK argues with Manoj Joshi about the rivalry between the Khans, trying to clear out that stars are only human beings and they are misunderstood by the media.

Pritam’s music is noteworthy though the three item numbers (featuring SRK with the three divas; Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor respectively) seem forced into the film only to add commercial value while the other songs are placed properly. ‘Marjaani’ stands out the most among the item numbers while ‘You Get Me Rockin & Reeling’ gets limited screen time. ‘Khudaya Khair’ leaves an impression capturing the magnificent locales of Pollachi.

Irrfan Khan, the scene-stealer of the film, is brilliant. Although Shahrukh Khan is given unnecessary screen-space in the first half, he is superb in the ending. Lara Dutta is competent. She shifts a step up in terms of acting, though her look isn’t too convincing for a village belle. Om Puri is first-rate as the greedy money-lender. Rasika Joshi is very good as the school principal; she fits the part to the T. Mitali Mayakar and Pratik Dalvi as Billu’s kids are remarkable. The supporting cast, that includes Rajpal Yadav, Asrani, Manoj Joshi and Jagdish, manage to provide a few laughs. Manoj Joshi is perfectly cast as the nosy school-manager.

Overall, Billu is a very simple and sweet movie on the subject of friendship. Although the movie is fairly predictable, it’s an enjoyable watch for the family! An above average fare!

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