Baar Baar Dekho: Even Once Is Twice Too Much!
Having read the book twice, I have long wanted to say this: I absolutely doff my hat off in admiration to the imagination of the writer of ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife.’ What a tale Audrey Niffennegger has spun; what mind has envisaged such a story angle and carried it through faultlessly. Bravo indeed.
No, I haven’t lost the plot (sic!) here; I am well aware this is a movie, not a book review. Possibly what sickens me the most – having once fallen victim to this myself – is the heartless way writers are treated, with no way of protecting themselves when someone with half a mind comes along and casually flicks their tale to make it their own! Now I am indeed referring to ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ whose basic premise is based on ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ of a man going back and forth in time travel, causing endless confusion to his near and dear ones. Nowhere, in the credits of the movie or elsewhere in any publicity, have director Nitya Mehra or writer Sri Rao acknowledged this; would it have killed the duo to give credit where it is due, especially as they have performed a hatchet job on the story?!
The film opens with this utterly gruesome shot of a woman’s agonised face in labour (gruesome because it is so shoddily handled!) and cut immediately to another venue of another woman in labour. And so, Jai Varma (Siddharth Malhotra) and Diya Kapoor (Katrina Kaif) grow up pretty much together and get hitched. Jai, who is a mathematician, wants to move to Cambridge, UK, a move fiercely opposed by Diya’s daddy (Ram Kapoor.) Eventually though, we see the duo settled there and, eventually again, in the natural order of things, there are two children too, the requisite boy and girl in the requisite desired order.
Ahh, but what’s afoot. Suddenly we see Jai does not remember much – in fact, pretty much any of it! Getting married, going on honeymoon, moving to Cambridge….bache toh bhool hi jaao, bhagwan ki dein hain! The audience – most of whom, I’ll warrant, haven’t read ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife – are left as confused as good ole’ Diya, who, after years of putting up with this mutt and dishing out, “you’re useless” to him ever so often, files for divorce, something else Jai remembers nothing about. Suddenly, he has one of his time lapses again, where he now goes back in the past and has a chance to relive this one day where, now that he has seen his crappy future, he decides he will do things differently to make sure the divorce, Diya’s remarriage et al, do not happen.
Isn’t it strange – these two are supposed to have loved each other from the cradle and yet, at no time does Diya ever attempt to understand Jai’s strange behaviour, nor does Jai ever attempt to explain what’s going on with him. When he does try half-heartedly to tell his mother (Sarika) that something’s way off the radar, she brushes him off. Dude, with family like these, who needs enemies?!
Why the movie is titled ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ (look again and again) I dunno. Woulda made more sense to call it ‘Pal Pal Meri Kahani’ (my story in every moment) coz the lesson we’re supposed to take back from this movie is that it’s the little things that count so live in the here and now, ambition/career/aspirations notwithstanding.
Is there anybody left alive whom this film has not stolen from?? It is slower than a Sooraj Barjatya production – even he does not attempt to explain the meaning behind each phera! Oh and BBD has also “borrowed” from ‘Ghost’ where we suddenly have the panditji who is supposed to have died 15-years ago, alight in the bus seat next to Jai and give him gyaan. Say, speaking of this guy, what’s with the red thread he tied to Jai’s wrist on the eve of the shaadi, which not only does the guy not remove even after having reached his late forties, but that never loses a twinge of its bright, red colour! There is a caricature of a Thai tourist guide so bad that I should imagine Thailand will ban all Bollywood shootings henceforth. Jai’s son Arjun is another parody of your typical Brit teenager, with tattoos all over and blue-streaked punk hairstyle; perhaps the director has never visited the UK! So much footage has been given to Cambridge or whichever university it is in England, that I imagine the film has been pretty much shot for free there.
There is zero fizz to the movie and all the punches (what punches?!) fall flat. Anvita Dutt as dialogue writer should find another profession pronto! The sad dialogues are ably aided by Malhotra’s wooden delivery and Kaif’s I-don’t-really-care-where-I-am expressions. And I don’t care what the film’s publicist claims – there is zero chemistry between this pair. Malhotra has the woebegone, little-boy-lost look down pat,however, he does not have the maturity as an actor yet to carry off a difficult topic such as time travel which demands one to be sometimes youthful and sometimes aged – and I’m not talking make-up or prosthetics. Kaif is a long-legged beauty who bagged big Bollywood banners on her Salman Khan connection and that’s pretty much it. She is no actress and even the looks fail her here – her skin is not clear and looks dull and the eyes say that nobody’s home.
Sayani Gupta as the friend is horrendously flat. No expressions or dialogue delivery. Ram Kapoor is typical Ram Kapoor; nothing outstanding and his role has not been well etched. Rajit Kapur made one want to smack him. Sarika made a flutter in Bollywood decades ago only for her light eyes and fair skin; nowhere does what she does come close to acting.
Extremely poorly written story and the shoddy direction does not help. Hair (Adhuna Bhabani) make-up (Mark Coulier/Linda Devlin) terrible, terrible, especially for the ageing Kaif and Sarika. Costumes by Arjun Bhasin are nothing to write home about and Kaif has an ill-fitting choli in ‘Nachde saare.’ Choreography by Ganesh Acharya is so pathetic, one cringes. Music by Amaal Malik and his gang of merry men is anything but music; ‘Teri Khair Mangdi’ with lyrics by Kumar, composed and sung by Bilal Saeed is perhaps the only half-way mellow track. Cinematography by Ravi K Chandran is lacklustre. Editing by Amitabh Shukla should definitely have been tighter and reduced the movie length by an hour.
Verdict: Sky-high, flashing letters in neon scream FLOP. Usse baar baar dekho!
*Written exclusively for The Film Writers Association of India