Cast: Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor
Director: Aditya Chopra
Befikre is the first film Aditya Chopra has written and directed since the passing of his father, Yash Chopra, in 2012. This is also the first film he’s made since marrying the woman he’d been in love with for years. Adi Chopra’s fourth film, without any sort of collaboration with the man who defined love in Bollywood, is not just his worst. It is one of the worst films out of the Yash Raj stable, ever. Befikre is in the league of yuckies like Neal ’n’ Nikki, though, sadly, it has a much more talented and exciting lead pair. Befikre, set proudly in Paris, arrives with promise. With the opening credits we get about 30 couples lip-locked. People of all shapes, sizes, ages are snogging unabashedly in public. It’s thrilling. Feels like Chopra is and will keep pushing the envelope. That he’s determined to capture the zeitgeist of our time, to give us a taste of love in the age of millennials.
The film, however, opens with a thud. A TV set crash-lands on the footpath, while upstairs, in the apartment, Shyra (Vaani Kapoor) and Dharam (Ranveer Singh) are in the midst of an angry break-up. Before we proceed, one thing needs to be noted here: All Bollywood directors, from Sanjay Leela Bhansali to Aditya Chopra, like Ranveer Singh in various stages of undress. His first appearance here is in a tiny, tight lycra shorts. Later, he prances around thrusting his stuff in a flaming red panty, followed by a brief but delightful glimpse of his toned and perky gluteus maximus. It’s more like reducing the size of the envelope than pushing it. But moving on. Shyra, a tour guide who has grown up in France, is calling Dharam a third-rate so-and-so from Karol Bagh. Dharam, a standup comic in Paris’ Delhi Belly Bar, ups the ante and calls her a French slut, and thus commences the game of love as played by the millennials.
Cut to the past for snapshots of life then, and what it’s like now. Life when Shyra’s hair was flaming at the ends, and life now, when her hair is trimmed, the flaming bits cut off and discarded. Befikre’s story, skimpy and pathetic, is made up of three singularly vacuous situations: Situation 1: Boy and girl meet, start dating, move in together Situation 2: Boy-girl stop dating and start hating for a bit, then become buddies, besties of sorts Situation 3: Epiphany, which comes in stuttering bits, including one induced by a ghee-drenched desi paratha. In each of these situations Befikre grinds its heels in and pirouettes at the same spot till it really is time to move on. There are no real conversations in these situations. On average, perhaps two-three sentences are exchanged per situation, but there is a lot of dancing, daring and contrived high jinx.
Throughout the first half it seems like Befikre may be going somewhere, that all this jumping around and kinetic idiocy will lead to something. It does, eventually, but it is all totally, completely, wholly pointless. Briefly in Situation 3, upon the entry of Boy 2, Befikre pauses for something akin to real feelings. While Shyra and Dharam are role-playing besties, there are some touching moments that are acted and captured beautifully. Like Shyra’s mother, we can clearly see what they can’t. Both are hurting inside, thinking the other has moved on while they are stuck in love. All the while hoping, waiting, begging inside that the other gives a hint, makes a move. In these few moments Befikre touches a chord. It needed to linger a bit longer here. It doesn’t. It hurtles to the climax that looks like it’s been directed by the twits responsible for Housefull 1, 2, 3…
Befikre’s love lesson is simply this: A girl may be direct and demanding while dating and during foreplay. She may make-out for the jollies of it, but before committing to marrying, she needs more. The boy must tell her that he wants her, that she is both for him — his zaroorat and his khwaish. Dude, that’s as old as the hills of Switzerland, and Daddy Chopra broke that idiotic rule long ago. Why resurrect it, that too in a film that’s pretending to be oh-so-cool and modern? Love, any kind, redeems a lot. But not this sort of sloppy BS.
Aditya Chopra seems to have had a lot of fun directing and showcasing the dancing, jumping skills of his stars and making them make-out in public. Whatever may be his need to live vicariously through his lead pair, the fact is that Befikre won’t even qualify as a film if it weren’t for the large amounts of money spent on location, and on the look and skill-development of his lead pair. It’s one thing that the film doesn’t have a story. But to be so creatively constipated, to stoop to use Jogi and Juhi — Shyra’s parents — to give us a whiff of DDLJ, complete with the wholesome, gyani Mummyji, is not just pathetic, but wuss-like.
Worse, two very talented people have been wasted. We are all already in awe of Ranveer Singh’s talents, while a bit taken aback by his energy levels. To get someone to match him, is daunting. Vaani Kapoor is an inspired choice. She doesn’t just keep up with him, but outdoes him in some scenes. Their chemistry reminded me of Govinda-Karishma Kapoor. Deliciously crazy, delightfully infectious. Vaani, confident, super skilled and talented, is all personality. She has superb timing and is spontaneous. Waiting to see her in a role that requires more than dancing....