What a nice movie! Just nice nice nice. Everyone is a good person trying to do good things. But it turns out that the good-est person doing the best-est things is the one who is right there in the title. Also, DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN/CAN WATCH!!!! If at all possible, this film deserves to be seen in theaters without spoilers. But I know some of you have already seen it, and some of you won’t be able to see if for weeks if ever, so in that case you can read on. (no spoilers review here)
Whole plot in one paragraph:
Kriti is a loving daughter with a good job and nice looks, but she is constantly turned down for engagements because she is too strong and outspoken and likes to roam around at night and drink and smoke. She can’t change herself, and doesn’t necessarily want to, but she also feels increasingly guilty for letting down her parents and sad for herself being so unloved. Until she picks up a cheap book at a bookstall, and the heroine is exactly like her, only the author thinks this is the best possible kind of woman. Ayushmann wrote the book, but made his cowardly friend Rajkummar Rao take the credit because he didn’t want to put his love story out there under his own name. It’s not based on Kriti, it is based on Ayushmann’s ex girlfriend from years ago. When he finds out Kriti wants to meet the author, he is curious, and agrees to take a letter from her to the author. They start exchanging letters, but also start hanging out in real life, and he falls in love with her. Only, she can’t move on until she meets the author. So he tracks down Rajkummar Rao and turns him into the kind of guy Kriti would hate, macho and bossy and rude. But it goes wrong, Rajkummar ends up winning over her parents, and he doesn’t want to leave town because he has fallen for her best friend. Ayushmann, to get rid of him, lies that he is divorced and destroys his own romance with the friend. In revenge, Rajkummar says he will win over and marry Kriti. And he does! Until finally, at the end, Ayushmann decides he will keep the secret, let Kriti marry Rajkummar since she seems so happy, and even writes a letter as Rajkummar to be read at the engagement because it will make Kriti happy. But Rajkummar loses his voice and asks Ayushmann to read it instead. And at the end, Kriti goes to embrace him and tells him SHE KNEW ALL ALONG!!!!! The first night, she ran into Rajkummar and he confessed everything. Ever since then, she has been testing Ayushmann, making sure he really truly loves her for her, not just because she reminds him of his ex. And all the rest of the characters were in on it too, trying to help these people find their way to each other.
The trailers really do not sell this plot as it is. Which is what makes this promotion campaign so brilliant. They sell the love triangle, they sell Rajkummar Rao’s makeover, the sell a “different” kind of heroine. And they sell the idea that she finds the affirmation she always wanted in a book and wants to track down the author.
But there is one very big thing they leave out, they leave out that Ayushmann actually is the author. From what we see in the trailer, it appears that Rajkummar was the author and loved her truly years ago. And Ayushmann meets her in real life while she is trying to find him, is approved of by her parents and all that, and decides to change Rajkummar so she will hate him and her parents will hate him. So there is a complicated love triangle, the sweet guy who loved her truly and wrote about her, and the guy who is right there in front of her in real life, who will she choose? Who do we want her to choose?
But then you watch the movie, and it was never a question. Ayushmann and Kriti were fated to be together. He is both the guy she knows and likes in real life, and the guy who wrote a whole book about how his dream girl is just like her. Rajkummar is just there to be, well, Rajkummar Rao! Great actor, has a really fun time with this role, and adds something different to the film. Ayushmann and Kriti without him would still be in love, would still have their sweet love story. But the film wouldn’t really be memorable, Rajkummar is what makes it a little different.
He’s different because he is extreme. In the hands of a less good actor, this would be a ridiculous character who breaks the reality of the film. A man so cowardly that he leaves town in fear before the book even comes out, not aware that it will be forgotten shortly and no one will read it. Who ends up working at a sari shop, terrified that his mother will find out his job isn’t as impressive as he said. But who, after a few lessons in being “badmaash”, completely changes personalities. And then changes back again later. And back and forth and back and forth.
But Rajkummar makes it work! It isn’t just for plot purposes that he keeps shifting personalities. After he has been all gunda-fied, and met Kriti and her parents, he goes back to see his mother. Who immediately starts nagging at him. In public, when talking about him to Ayushmann, she was all supportive and proud. But now alone with him, she is needling and critical in a similar way to how Kriti’s mother is with her. It’s not that she is asking for little changes or improvements, she is criticizing the very essence of who he is. We can see why he leaped so quickly into this charade, he was delighted to unlock a part of himself that he was always afraid to show before, to find a way to stand up for himself. And we can see why he was friends with Ayushmann to begin with, someone strong who could show him a new part of life.
We can even see why he goes along with helping Kriti and Ayushmann get together while Ayushmann is getting increasingly angry at him. He may enjoy this charade, but at heart he is still a good sweet guy and he doesn’t mind helping this friend who showed him a new way of being to find his own happy ending.
But most importantly, there’s Kriti. She is where we start the film, being introduced to her as the girl who drinks a little and smokes a little and breakdances and watches English films without really understanding them. And being introduced with her identity crisis. She has been rejected over and over again. She is ready to give up, leave town, not expect anyone to ever love her for herself. And that’s when she finds Ayushmann’s book. It’s not that he is in love with her, it’s that he is someone in the world who could love someone like her. She isn’t unloveable, she just hasn’t found the right guy.
And this is the thread that carries through to that crazy twist. She was “testing” him because she wanted to be really really sure he truly loved her for herself. Not just because she reminded him of someone else, but because of who she was. She is strong enough and wise enough to know what she wants and not be afraid to lose everything in a search for it.
And that’s the other “twist” that isn’t in the trailer. She ISN’T Bareilly Ki Barfi, not at first. This isn’t a book about her, this is a book about someone like her written by someone who could love someone like her. It’s the start of their love story, not the end. The end of their love story is a lot more complicated than that.
Huh! This movie doesn’t seem like the trailer at all!
Exactly! But not in a “I was promised a rom-com and it’s a tragedy” kind of way, just that it is a slightly different kind of rom-com than you were expecting.
Margaret and I recorded a spoiler free review right after we saw this movie together:
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I loved the twist at the end that Kriti and Rajkummar were just testing Ayushmann! I was starting to get mad at Rajkummar for getting in the way of Kriti and Ayushmann when the twist was finally revealed.
I really liked Kriti in this and I hope that she gets more good roles like this. I’ve always liked her since 1:Nenokkadine, and I’ll always have a soft spot for her since she’s actually the only actress who’s worked with all of my favorite actors. Ayushmann was charming in this role but I liked him more in other movies like Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Bewakoofiyan even where he isn’t the best guy.
I liked Kriti in this, and in Raabta (which no one else liked). I’m hoping her career keeps going, she’s got a sort of unusual energy onscreen for a heroine.
On Wed, Oct 25, 2017 at 12:24 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
I looked it up and it looks like Kriti hasn’t signed anything after Bareilly Ki Barfi. I hope BKB’s success leads to her getting more opportunities.
Yes! It really wouldn’t be fair if she is being punished for Raabta’s failure, considering that SSR’s career is continuing full steam ahead.
I liked Raabta and I really liked Kriti in it, she was one of the best parts of this movie.
And I loved Bareilly ki Barfi. Haven’t laugh so much while watching a movie for ages. Bitti’s parents were super hilarious.
Rajkummar was superb, as always. I’m happy this movie was a hit and want more and more films like that: funny, well-done, with strong female character. The only thing I like less was Ayushmann. He was good, but I don’t know, I find all characters he played (I’ve seen 3) so similar. Good guy, but with something dark inside, what disallows me to love his characters and cheer for them.
Ayushmann’s next film, I think, is supposed to be more of a thriller. So that darkness might finally come to the surface. Which is interesting!
On Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 2:39 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
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Finally saw this on the plane while traveling for work. I think I need to watch it again now that I know about the twist and how it all turns out. I really liked Kriti’s character, and I thought her relationships with her mom, dad, girl friend, and then with Ayushmann (when they were becoming friends) were really well done. How fun to see Kriti get to act and not just be tall and pretty. Rajkummar was every bit as good as you and others have said. My problem is that I just found Ayushmann to be so abusive of Rajkummar, from the very start when he bullied him into using R’s name and photo to publish the book. Every time I saw A with Kriti, I liked him so much, then every time I saw him with R, I kept thinking “no one needs this selfish bastard in their life”. I know that he has an arc and he grows to be less selfish–at least where Kriti is concerned. So, now that I know precious cinnamon roll Rajkummar will be ok, and that Ayushmann gets played in the same way he plays others, I’ll watch it again and see whether it’s a keeper or not.
I agree that Ayushmann’s character was a flaw. I feel like there were hints along the way that he was far better to Rajkummar than we the audience happened to see, there was an initial loyalty and liking there from Rajkummar which makes me think Ayushmann kind of sponsored him and let him hang out with the cool guys. And Rajkummar needed to stand up to his mother, and Ayushmann got him there. But of course we never saw that kind of grudging kindness part of their relationship, only the really horrible part.
And the film certainly punishes Ayushmann in the end, and all the evil things he is doing seem not nearly as bad when you realize Rajkummar is purposefully goading him towards them.
Oh! I know what this reminds me of! Ayushmann and Rajkummar have kind of the friendship equivalent of an S&M relationship. Rajkummar needs the abuse, needs the challenge and direction in his life, and Ayushmann just turns kind of nasty in response to that. Not saying it is really an S&M relationship or anything, but there are some friendships that just fall into that dynamic, one of the friends craves the abuse and the other fulfills that craving.
On Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 3:49 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:
Yes, they could have just established a little bit more history and that would have helped. Without going the full S & M route, I can see how Ayushmann could have helped Rajkummar navigate school life while also being a bit impatient with him for being so unguarded and soft. And I did enjoy R clearly getting into his role as the over-confident show-offy guy.
Yes, and Rajkummar was so firm on Ayushmann being his only/best friend, I have an image of him as kind of a hanger on that Ayushmann put up with as a kindness, but also thoughtlessly abused because he never seemed to mind.
I loved Rajkummar’s transformation, and also how very specific it was. It wasn’t just “act like a jerk”, it was “act like this particular kind of jerk that we all clearly know well”. Oh, and I was super happy that his romance worked out in the end too, no one was left lonely and longing at the end.
On Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 4:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote: