Hindi Reviews

Befikre Review: Even Paris Cannot Hide the Film’s Outdated Values

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A still from the move Befikre. Read the Silverscreen Review

It is possible that Befikre (Carefree) was conceived when director-producer Aditya Chopra watched How I Met Your Mother, the average Indian’s guide to modern relationships. He has centred his movie around Barney Stinson and Robin Scherbatsky, possibly because his colleague Karan Johar had already started making a film on the other couple, Ted Mosby and Robin, where she dies of cancer at the end.

This romantic-drama set in the world’s most exotic city, Paris, is an addition to the list of Bollywood’s done-to-death ‘Pyaar-dosti’ flicks. It’s essentially similar to Shah Rukh Khan’s films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dil To Pagal Hai, where he fools around with a woman (Madhuri Dikshit/Kajol) for two hours, only to realise that he has fallen in love with her at the eleventh hour. Subsequently, he wrecks her wedding with an unsuspecting gentleman (Akshay Kumar/Salman Khan). Saif Ali Khan did some similar damage in Hum Tum and Love Aajkal. Chopra’s film also borrows the hackneyed plot idea of ‘no-string attached love’ from classics like Before the Sunrise and Indian counterparts like Tamasha, Katti Batti, and the more recent OK Kanmani.

Chopra’s version of Barney Stinson is a Delhi boy named Dharam (Ranveer Singh) who lands in Paris to work as a stand-up comedian in a club named Delhi Belly, run by his friend. Wearing (over)excitement and curiosity on his sleeve, he goes to a pub to hook up with a ‘hot French girl’.

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There, as fate has it, he meets his Robin Scherbatsky who goes by the name Shyra (Vaani Kapoor). When every other girl at the party shoos him away, she generously takes him in. Because he has a killer humour sense. Here is a sample:

She: I hate Indian men.
He: I hate Indian men too. I think they smell of methi.
She: OMG! You are too funny!

Humour in Befikre is just not laugh-worthy. Dharam’s daily comedy show at Delhi Belly involves him screaming animatedly from a platform about his pathetic love-life. “I prepared for an English test, but the paper was French. Of course, I failed the test!”, he says, and the audience burst into laughter. Two shows later, he is sitting on the stage with a grim face and cribbing about being a third-wheel in romantic relationships. Yet, the room is packed. No one in the audience leaves or demands their money back. Real stand-up comedians could sue Chopra for defamation.

And the characters are too shallow to be taken seriously. It’s hard to say why Shyra doesn’t believe in love or marriage. It’s even harder to fathom why someone as charismatic as her falls for Dharam whose brain is somewhere between his legs, and a social life is eerily similar to that of KRK’s twitter account. The dialogues reek of cheesiness, and plot-twists – like the entry of a third person to the relationship of Dharam and Shyra – is so cliched.

However, it’s fair to say that Chopra does try to bring in some freshness to this new-age romantic story. Shyra’s parents are goodhearted elders who ardently try to accept and understand the young ones – diametrically opposite what Amresh Puri was in DDLJ. And the villain in the story is not Shyra’s potential suitor, a rich and gentle investment banker. It’s Shyra and Dharam themselves who stand between a ‘happily every-after’.

Paris, as it goes without saying, makes the film a visual treat. And Shyra’s job as a city tour-guide does give the film an opportunity to show the audience more of the beautiful city, and dish out lines about Paris’ status as the city of lovers like Esmaralda and Quasimodo. Vaani Kapoor looks gorgeous, and dances like magic. In duet performances, her charm makes her co-dancer Ranveer Singh disappear.

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And a particular sequence in the film, where Shyra, Dharam, and the banker whose name is as irrelevant as his character, sing at a Bollywood karaoke night, is genuinely enjoyable.

But nothing makes up for the lack of life in the film. Even the most intense of scenes comes across as juvenile, and the songs, despite being slick and catchy, are pulled down by unflattering picturisation.

It’s important to see how traditional this film, which masquerades as a modern relationship drama, is. Post-break up, Dharam throws caution to the wind, hooks up with a number of women and has sex on a daily basis. Meanwhile, Shyra matures into a one-man woman and even refuses to kiss her new boyfriend. Although Dharam becomes a proud philanderer, it’s she who gets slapped with a ‘slut tag’.

To sum it up, Befikre is a movie that gives you a thousand deja-vus, and nothing much else. Its course is so predictable that you would want to barge into the reel-world and tell the characters to mellow their ‘befikre-ness’ a little because you know at the end, true love will creep into their carefree relationship, and walk them down the aisle.

Befikre is a movie that shouldn’t have been made. It is the kind of romantic-comedy that makes you pine for reality, instead of escaping into its fantasy.

***

The Befikre review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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