Befikre movie review: Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor’s (5/4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐)

A flash of derriere on screen is no big deal in some parts of the world, but in India where the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has so far deemedthe display of certaindesibody parts a non-desi, un-kosher activity, here is a surprise. Singh gives us a clear look at his wonderfully firm backside as he runs into a hotel room to make love to his girlfriend inBefikre.And the Censors have not scissored out that shot! Nine years after they sought to preserve our collective innocence by chopping out a glimpse of Ranbir Kapoor’s bottom inSaawariya’s towel dancing scene,mere Bharatvaasiyon, they have risked ruining oursanskaarwith the sight of a man’s bare behind! A moment of silence please, at this great honour bestowed on Indian adults by the CBFC. A moment to express our deep gratitude for this acknowledgement of our maturity.Thhoda zyaada ho gaya, na? You get the point though? Okay then, I’m done with mocking the Censors. Now onward to the review.Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor in a still from ‘Befikre’Director Aditya Chopra’sBefikrestars Singh and the girl fromShuddh Desi Romance, Vaani Kapoor, as lovers-turned-friends Dharam Gulati and Shyra Gill. He is a Delhi boy who has just moved to Paris to perform as a stand-up comedian at his brother’s nightclub there. She is a Parisian of Indian origin, a tour guide who occasionally helps her parents run a restaurant.Dharam is perennially horny and a (sometimes creepy) pile-on, Shyra is not interested in commitment but is up for a roll in the hay. They are two people perfectly suited to each other’s wants and needs at the point in time when they first meet. The film takes us through the year between their hook-up and eventual break-up, and what follows.Viewed entirely from the surface,Befikreis fun. C’mon, of course it is. Singh, as we all know, is a delightful bundle of energy and an absolute charmer. Like him, Kapoor is not a conventional pretty face, 

but like him she too has an arresting presence that makes her extremely attractive. She also has one of the loveliest voices I’ve heard on a new Hindi film heroine in a while: soft and delicate, like cotton candy.An insensitive dare involving begging and a fleeting rape joke from Dharam require a separate – long – discussion. Set those aside, and his shenanigans are by and large amusing. The duo also play off each other well.Combine the lead pair with Vishal-Shekhar’s foot-thumping music (not counting the decidedly ordinary ‘Khulke dulke/Ishq ki bungee’), an unusual blend of Hindi and French in Jaideep Sahni’s breezy lyrics and Vaibhavi Merchant’s infectiously lively choreography, and you have an entertaining packagein place.I scrutinised the entire end credits but could not find a mention of Kapoor’s fitness instructor and dance teacher. Could someone give me their names, phonenumbers and the money to afford them, please? During an extended dance sequence between Shyra and Dharam, at one point she faces him with both legs wrapped around his waist and bends her torso backwards dipping her head deep towards the ground, then raises herself up ramrod straight again, her legs still around his waist, without any assistance from him, purely on the strength of her abs. If that was not camera trickery or a product of special effects, here’s an aside to salaam you for your muscle power, Ms Kapoor, and you for your imagination, Ms Merchant.(Spoilers ahead)The heart and soul of the film though leave much to be desired. How many times will Bollywood re-visit the story of a commitment-averse individual or couple who are buddies, find what they think is love in the arms of others and finally realise they are meant to be with each other instead? Films like KunalKohli’sHum Tum(2004, produced by Aditya Chopra) and Imtiaz Ali’sKal Aaj Aur Kal(2009) had novelty value and depth. Ayan Mukherji’sYeh Jawaani Hai Deewani(2013) and even Ali’sTamasha(2015) addednew dimensions to the discussion.Befikreis entertaining at a superficial level, but at the end of the day it is nothing but old wine in a glossy new bottle.So yeah, the couple have lots of sex and make their own decisions unlike thesanskaariladka-ladkiwho bowed to the girl’s despoticdesiDaddy in Chopra’s debut film,Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge(DDLJ), 21 years back, but these are significant changes only if you assess the director’s filmography in a vacuum without the context of everything else that Hindi cinema has done since 1995. Besides, ultimately this film – like most Bollywood films – is designed as reassurance for conservative viewers that marriage can be the only acceptable conclusion to a relationship between a hero and heroine (especially ifthey have had sex).Despite the generous dose of smooching between the leads, Chopra cannot camouflage his underlying conservatism. Note that after Shyra and Dharam break up, we see her in only one romantic relationship, and she does not sleep with that guy. Dharam, on the other hand, remains sexually obsessed, sexually active and has a long-term involvement with a French hottie.Note too how lightly Dharam and, more important, the film take white women. They are nothing but bodies and sources of sex for him, creatures you proposition, not human beings to be taken seriously like thedesikudihe slept with.None of this should come as a surprise if you look back at the extreme regressiveness ofDDLJ. The difference between then and now is that, for the mostpartBefikreis not regressive. What it is is a film pretending to be subversive, revolutionary and evolved, when all it does is endorse a status quo.That’s why Aditya Chopra’s fourth film as a director (his first in eight years) is watchable for its packaging alone and not for what lies beneath. Even Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor’s boundless verve, all that kissing, unbridled sex and tiny Western clothing cannot mask the story’s traditionalist core.


Dear Zindagi Movie Review

​Film:Dear Zindagi
Director:Gauri Shinde
Cast:Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt,Ali Zafar, Angad Bedi, Kunal Kapoor

Rating: 4/5

What it’s aboutThere is a moment inDear Zindagiwhere Alia Bhatt is lying on a couch transfixed in an empty gaze. In another scene, we watch a collage of close up shots expressing the gamut of emotionsshe goes through post a dramatic breakup. There are several such shots and scenes in Gauri Shinde’s over 

indulgentDear Zindagiwhere the protagonist Kaira is floating aimlessly like a plastic bag in air. We wait in anticipation wanting to share her pain and empathise with her situation, but the lack of a cohesive narrative falters in creating a solid connect with the girl who has relationship woes. Dr.Jehangir played by a dapper ShahRukh Khan is the shrink who helps Kaira put together the missing jigsaw pieces on the drawing board of her life. In the process, we meet Kaira’s ex (Angad Bedi), current (Kunal Kapoor) and future (Ali Zafar) boyfriends. The film is a long drawn conversation between Alia and Shah Rukh that has momentsof brilliance thanks to the dialogues. Kaira has a dark back story that is played out through the lengthy second half and Jehangir sort of takes a backseat as the film rushes to its much-delayed climax.What’shotGauri Shinde has a way with her words. We saw that inEnglish Vinglish. WithDearZindagi,she creates an effortless banter between her characters that is appealing. The language of Kaira and her gang of friends is a part of everybody’s life, so are the upsand downs she experiences after the breakups and it’s all relatable.The humour is smart and witty. In one scene an aunt asks Alia if she’s ‘Lebanese’ (meaning lesbian) goes beyond the cliche ofa movie gag. Alia is in superb form as Kaira. She is real and restrained. Her character doesn’t scream, screech, or bawl. And that is much to Gauri’s credit as hers. Her approach towards nursing a broken heart is nonchalance which she relays effectively, and it works. Shah Rukh looks like he’s modelling a linen shirt brand and that isn’t a bad thing. Jehangir is sexy and smart. His banter with Alia in the first half and the introductory scene are major highlights. Dialogues like, “Don’t let your past blackmail your present to ruin your beautiful future” don’t sound corny when you have ShahRukh saying them in his signature charm.What’s notConversations are entertaining and engaging when they end before they become white noise.Dear Zindagisuffers from some really long, drawn out monologuesand verbal exchanges between Kaira and Dr. Jehangir. There is a scene where he compares trying out chairs to moving from one boyfriend to the other, another attempt at humour to talk about taking the easy way out rather than choosing the more obvious difficult path comes across as an exhausting attempt to build up a forced narrative. What felt like easy conversations in the first halfsuddenly become heavy and corny in the second. What is Jehangir’s back story? Why is he averse to the idea of opening himself up to Kaira? These and many more questions remain unanswered. Jehangir loses his sex appeal when he starts getting preachy and his believability suffers from the too-good-to-be-true syndrome.What to doDear Zindagifeels like a long, unending conversation that leavesyou feeling exhausted. We wish Dr. Jehangir’s character had moreappeal than the texture of his facial scruff.