BAAR BAAR DEKHO
Direction: Nitya Mehra
Actors: Katrina Kaif, Sidharth Malhotra, Sarika, Ram Kapoor, Rajit Kapur
Rating: 2 / 5
Baar Baar Dekho is book-ended by highlights. The film ends with Kala Chashma, that insanely infectious Badshah song. When it began, at least a few people in the theatre I was in started dancing. And Baar Baar Dekho begins with a beautifully wrought summary of a grand romance — Diya and Jai are born on different continents; their paths cross in Delhi when they are eight; they become best friends and the relationship deepens into love. All of this happens before the opening credits finish. I was instantly sold — on both, the characters and the talent of debutant director Nitya Mehra.
Watch Kala Chashma
The problem is everything in between. Baar Baar Dekho is essentially the movie equivalent of a Hallmark card. The writers — Sri Rao, Anuvab Pal and Nitya herself — are imparting life lessons here. In case you miss them, the characters helpfully spell them out. A wise pundit tells us: “Badi baaton pe nahin, chhoti baaton pe dhyan do”. And a sagely professor of mathematics declares: “Balance ke bagair koi equation perfect nahin hoti”. All working moms know this, but it takes Jai a hundred and forty-two minutes to figure it out.
The 2013 British film, About Time, featured a time-travelling protagonist who learns to enjoy each day of what he calls his ‘extraordinary, ordinary life’. Like that man, Jai also becomes a loving husband and father by travelling back and forth in time. He realises how empty his life will be if he continues to put his passion — Vedic mathematics — above all else.
On paper, this must have seemed like an ambitious, beguiling idea, especially for Hindi cinema. On screen, it’s an absolute slog. Jai just keeps waking up in different years and has no clue what has happened in the years that have gone by.
So Sidharth Malhotra is forced to keep the same dazed and confused expression on his face through the film. He’s in practically every frame. It’s a tough load to carry and he works hard to make Jai’s struggle palpable. But the screenplay doesn’t support him. To begin with, he has to convincingly play a man who is reluctant to marry Katrina Kaif — who, of course, looks smashing.
Katrina also stretches herself by finding some depth and expression. But the repetition in the narrative simply flattens out their efforts. Even the most ardent Sid and Kat fans will find it difficult to stay interested.
Baar Baar Dekho has been jointly produced by Excel Entertainment and Dharma Productions. These production houses are the high priests of a sub-genre that I call posh people angst — basically, stories about affluent, attractive people. The good thing about these movies is that when the story fails, you can focus on the styling. Baar Baar Dekho is impeccably good-looking. Cinematographer Ravi K Chandran gives every surface a sheen. The locations are lovely and so are the outfits. It’s also a pleasure to see strong actors like Sarika, Ram Kapoor and Rajit Kapur.
But none of this is enough to sustain you through the length of this desperately flawed film. I’m going with two stars but keeping my faith in Nitya. That opening sequence holds promise of greater things.
Watch the Baar Baar Dekho trailer