Movie Review – Befikre

Befikre: Voila! The French Connection!

Papa Yashji found his muse in Switzerland and beta Aditya Chopra seems to have found his in France. ‘Befikre’ is nothing but a cinematic paean to France although, if I were French, I’d take extreme umbrage to the implication that Love means just smooches and canoodling!

Okay, it ain’t gonna take long to wrap this up. The story in five simple lines then: Boy meets girl and what passes for love, ensues. Lots of kisses and curses later – break up. Phase 2: ex-lovers become friends. Decide to marry other people. At the church, each decides to skedaddle – together!

The End. Yawn. What’s new? Zilch.

Dharam no-need-for-last-name (Ranveer Singh) is a stand-up comedian who is from Delhi (Karol Bagh, to be precise, as we are constantly reminded via derogatory references from his girlfriend) who moves to gay Paree to ply his trade and predictably, in the manner of most obnoxious Indian men, drools and salivates over all the girl booty available. Shyra Gill (Vani Kapoor) is a tour guide, even though her parents seem to own a fairly successful restaurant. There are SO many unwarranted songs and befikre dancing on the busy streets of Paris that it makes your head spin although of course, for those who have never visited this City of Love, you get a free Raju guide version. The Westin Paris sure got a free promotion!

Old, young, kids, even cops! “Smooch fest” seems to have been Adi’s leit motif through ‘Befikre’- say, how did the CBFC let this one under the scanner?? It was controversial and unconventional enough when he decided to move away from Yash uncle’s (friend of my dad’s) soft romance formula and come up with the trendier ‘Dhoom’ series or ‘Band Baaja Baarat’ but here, in a bid to be tres modern and “with-it” Adi the scriptwriter has just put together a series of bizarre sequences. The protagonists seem to get off on daring each other to do the craziest crap – like Dharam slapping a policeman or Shyra lip-kissing a girl! Dharam does some weak Dharmendra imitations; I’d be insulted rather than flattered. There are contrived scenes such as when he is shopping for cornflakes in a supermarket, or when Shyra and her mother have an ostensible bonding moment over aloo paranthas. Why are Shyra and Dharam getting married in Christian style in a church, especially as Shyra is marrying Anay, another Punjabi, who appears to be an orphan? Why are there so many French words and phrases liberally peppered throughout the movie – did Adi the dialogue writer forget he is mainly addressing the cow-belt in India? And what a farce that church fight was – bride attacking bride, bridesmaids ripping at each other; the only one chortling at this infantile humour would have been Adi the director, who also forgot to yell “cut.” The audience just watched in frozen horror at this supposedly YRF offering.

Ranveer Singh brings his customary zing to the movie but even he is unable to save it from sinking to titanic proportions, notwithstanding his chaddi and even, bare-bottomed (oh yes!) scenes. Vani Kapoor does not have the conventional Indian good looks and too angular a body, however, she is spontaneous in some scenes and there is an undeniable comfort between the lead pair. Horrible, horrible hair – looks like it was hacked off with garden shears! Shyra’s parents (very strange, but their names don’t feature in the cast list) are a good choice of casting, especially the mother.

Cinematography is by Kaname Onoyama and no complaints too; some stunning Riviera shots. Music is by Vishal-Shekhar; some catchy tunes but not so’s it stays in the mind. Choreography by Vaibhavi Merchant; nothing outstanding and she only redeems herself in the salsa number which again is hardly original. Editing is by Namrata Rao, who seems to have been so comatose after her recent ‘Kahanai 2’ experience that she’s let this one slide by with quite a few extra minutes.

Aditya Chopra wears the hats of director, producer, scriptwriter and dialogue writer (shared with Sharad Katariya) for this one and so it is at his feet that all the blame must squarely be laid. It is absolutely cringe-worthy to see that the House of Flowing Chiffons that hitherto gave us such unmatched celluloid experiences in the form of ‘Daag,’ ‘Kabhi Kabhi,’ ‘Noorie,’ ‘Chandni,’ ‘Lamhe’ – you see where I’m going with this, don’t you – romance…pain…unrequited love…has now come down to this, a tale of kisses and curses…words like “slut” and a beer-guzzling heroine …by golly, it makes one shudder at the fate of Bollywood! Thank God for a Sanjay Leela Bansali and his Bajirao’s! In another blasphemous moment, this is the first time a YashRaj film is not opening to the strains of Lata Mangeshkar’s dulcet “aaaaaaaa.” Times are a-changing indeed.

*Written exclusively for The Screenwriters Association of India

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