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‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ film review: Dessert is served, but it takes its time to arrive

Rajkummar Rao, Ayushmann Khurrana and Kriti Sanon star in a love triangle directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari.

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s second movie after Nil Battey Sannata (2016) is an adaptation of Nicolas Barreau’s 2010 French novel The Ingredients of Love, which itself is a riff on the play Cyrano De Bergerac. In Bareilly Ki Barfi, Bitti (Kriti Sanon), the free-spirited unmarried daughter of eccentric and indulgent parents (Pankaj Tripathi and Seema Pahwa), is all set to run away until she chances upon a cheap paperback at a railway station. Bearing the same title as the movie, the novel charms Bitti because its heroine Babli is a lot like her – she breakdances, smokes on the sly, and lives by her own rules.

Bitti develops a massive crush on the author, the delectably named Pritam Vidrohi, and gets some help in tracing his whereabouts from Chirag (Ayushamann Khurana), who is the real author of the novel. Chirag wrote the book after suffering heartbreak and bullied his friend Pritam (Rajkummar Rao) into putting his face on the jacket. In order to continue the deception, Chirag hauls Pritam before Bitti and encourages him to act like an obnoxious street thug in the hope that it will cure Bitti and make her see the love that is flowing from his eyes like lava.

Bitti, however, is as taken with Pritam as her parents. Think the Madhuri Dixit-Salman Khan-Sanjay Dutt starrer Saajan, with grins and giggles replacing the breastbeating and the hand-wringing.


The idea of love as a confection and a concoction has several sweet bits served between lashings of redundant and overstretched scenes and songs. The plot, by Nitesh Tiwari and Shreyas Jain, takes forever to bubble into place, and really begins to take shape only after Pritam arrives on the scene. Forced to adopt a swagger alien to his mild-mannered ways, Pritam adds welcome frisson to the mismatched pairing of Chirag and Bitti and turns the conceit of Cyrano De Bergerac on its head. In this movie, the fake author of romantic prose is far more captivating than the actual creator and the object of the creator’s affection.

Khurrana has been there before as the everyman who is doomed in love, and there is little surprise in his performance. Although Sanon is barely convincing as a small-town woman with a bold streak, she makes a decent fist of her none-too-bright and passive character.

The third peg of the romantic triangle is the most interesting, in no small measure due to Rajkummar Rao. Usually cast in intense and brooding parts, the talented actor has tremendous fun baring his grin and conveying his estimable acting range. Rao steals every scene he is in, and proves to be the silver foil on an overcooked sweetmeat.

The other two immensely enjoyable characters are the ones removed from the central – and dull – romance. Pankaj Tripathi, as Bitti’s lovably dyspeptic father, and Seema Pahwa, as her harried mother, show up Khurrana and Sanon with little effort. Together with Rao, the veterans display a true grasp of the gentle absurdity at the heart of the script. Lyricist and writer Javed Akhtar too has tremendous fun providing the droll voiceover to the increasingly convoluted proceedings,

The 122-minute movie’s comic and off-kilter delights would have been more enjoyable in a tighter narrative. Bareilly Ki Barfi suffers tremendously from tonal inconsistency. It promises a relentlessly eccentric and zany experience, but doesn’t follow its screwball premise all the way through. The movie sags when it chases Chirag and Bitti, but bursts with flavor when Pritam is around.

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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

Watch Rome Now

For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.