Aditya Chopra could be described as one of Bollywood’s most enigmatic personalities. One has read about him being painfully shy, to the point of being almost reclusive. Therefore, one gets the feeling that he makes up for it, by making the protagonists in his movies, absolutely larger than life. Enough newsprint has been devoted to his debut, tears were shed by teenagers when Mohabbatein came out, and yawns were stifled while watching Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.
It did come as a huge surprise, when he announced Befikre, and it didn’t have Shahrukh Khan as the leading man, but Ranveer Singh, who’s the flavour of the season, and another YRF alumnus, Vaani Kapoor, who’s been off the radar after Shuddh Desi Romance, and Aaha Kalyanam (Telugu remake of Band Baaja Baaraat). The promos when released caused a whole lot of jaws to drop, some in shock, and some in awe, as it was quite evident that the director was making an attempt to get out of his comfort zone. So, is Befikre another worthy addition to the YRF collection, or is it another pointless exercise in shock value like the egregious Neal’n’Nikki?
Dharam (Ranveer Singh) is an up and coming comic from Delhi who’s in Paris to try his luck at his friend’s cafe (Aptly titled Delhi Belly, which is what you’ll suffer from if you listen to his jokes), and while checking out the sights, ends up bumping into the gorgeous Shyra (Vaani Kapoor), a Frenchwoman of Indian Origin, and the two hit it off at once. After jumping into a relationship built on a foundation of pure lust and disdain for conventional relationships, both realise they are extremely incompatible and break things off. But is that really the end or do the fates have something different in mind?
Befikre, for the most attempts to eschew the traditional romance tropes that one usually sees in Bollywood, and Aditya Chopra and writer Sharat Katariya go all out to try and convince us that this is not your standard romantic comedy. Gone are the smouldering glances, and the genteel romantic gestures of DDLJ, the innocence of Mohabbatein, and the pining of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. This is modern romance, or at least some version of it, that the audience is being served here, and what works, is that for most of the movie’s running time, proceedings are kept light and frothy.
But, it is after a point, that one begins to start wondering, is that all there is to this movie, and it’s almost like in anticipation of this, some drama is injected into the proceedings, right at the beginning of the final act, but strangely, even that doesn’t last too long, and things lead up to a climax that’s reminiscent of a Groucho Marx farce. And, that’s where the biggest failing of the movie is. You laugh, you smile, you smirk, you cringe and you look on indulgently at the onscreen proceedings, but, none of it will stay with you 10 minutes after you’ve walked out of the theatre.
The biggest disservice this movie does is that it wastes the opportunity to completely use the manic energy of Ranveer Singh. He combines the lechery of a Dilli Ka Launda with the chutzpah of Deadpool, even baring his bum (To the glee of the ladies in the audience) and makes it work even when the screenplay isn’t. The real surprise is seeing a leading lady who is not only up to the challenge of facing off against Singh’s madness but matches it effortlessly. Vaani Kapoor makes the best of an underwritten character and manages to catch your eye with a performance so uninhibited, you can’t recall the last time a Bollywood leading lady pulled that off. Add to that, a stunningly expressive face, and dance moves that would give Hrithik Roshan an inferiority complex. The chemistry between the lead pair is absolutely smouldering and makes you wish that the writers had been up to the task. The supporting cast consisting of Armaan Ralhan as Shyra’s good natured, investment banker fiancé, and Akarsh Khurana and Ayesha Raza as her supportive parents are absolutely fun to watch.
Aditya Chopra’s attempt to try and tell a story that’s with it comes off like watching Rajesh Khanna attempt a disco song. It’s cringe-worthy as hell, but you can’t look away. However, the best way to describe Befikre would be to draw parallels with the cotton candy one finds at fairs. It’s cloyingly sweet, causing a bitter aftertaste, but it’s fluffy and light enough to not make you hurl.