Movie Review : Befikre (2016)

Rating : 3.6/5
Genre : Romance
Year : 2016
Running time : 2 hours 30 minutes
Director : Aditya Chopra
Cast : Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor, Arrmaan Ralhan, Ayesha Mishra
Kid rating: PG-13

Befikre – or carefree, is what our protagonists are. Dharm Gulati (Singh) is the Karol Bagh ka munda who’s in Paris to do a comedy gig. Rambunctious Shyra Gill (Vaani Kapoor) considers herself the French daughter of Punjabi parents. They meet, fall in lust, and decided to live-in to spend more time with each other. Alas, this does not end happily. Or does it?

Befikre is not a straightforward love-story, nor is it a traditional Bollywood-ian romance. There is no evil pyar-ka-dushman, no classist society and no angry parents to stop the two lovers. Also the two lovers don’t really know whether they are truly in love or not – there is a lot of going back and forth on the pyar-wala question. And that is actually the story of this film – they say Haan, then they say Na, then they . . .

For the lack of story in the film, Befikre never gets boring. There is always something happening to rock the emotional boat, there is energy, there is song and dance, there are life changing decisions to be made and fights to be had. There are some improbable/cringeworthy situations (Dharm’s comedy routine sucks) but Shyra and Dharm make up for it by spewing out smart, snappy, humorous one-liners, and generally lifting up the mood of the film with their zest for life.

The film is shot in lovely Paris, so it’s got the Parisian sights (a lit up Eiffel, the Pont des Arts, Notre Dame) and the Aditya Chopra sheen all over it. Singh and Kapoor light up the screen, he with his antics, and she with her beauty. The music is light and boppy and has a considerable amount of French in it. You’d think this film would work, right? Well, it does and it doesn’t.

Firstly, there is little chemistry between the leads. They are pleasant to look at and listen to, but they don’t quite make you believe in the smoldering passion that supposedly lies beneath their vehement denials. Also the characters are shallowly sketched. We don’t get to know them. Vaani’s character seemed a lot more interesting, and deeper, than Ranveer’s, probably because she tried to play the part and he just overwhelmed the role with his personality – I never got a feel for who for who Dharm actually was. Also, Dharm and Shyra seem caddish – I felt bad for the other folks in their lives.

Director Chopra also manages to insert mummy-ka-pyaar, desi ghee and aloo ke parathe into Befikre, to its detriment. Also annoying was the general display of the parochial mindset – Shyra’s parents annoyed at Shyra because she isn’t as Indian as they’d like, etc. No, this film is not an earth-shaking leave-you-wanting-more film, but it is still a decent one-time watch, because really, its leads are just so gosh darn cute!

Kidwise: One-fourth of the film (I exaggerate of course, but still) features lip-locks, love-making scenes. Every 10 minutes or so (I exaggerate again, but still), Shyra rips off her top to reveal lacy lingerie. Ranveer appears in nothing more than his underwear, and in one scene not even that (I kid you not). I’ve read reviews which have called Befikre “cheap”, but it is not. Yes, there is more bare skin, kissing etc. in this film than “normal”, but it is done cleanly, with none of the leering, suggestive, demeaning innuendo found in other so-called “family-entertainers”.

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