Gee whiz. They’re not only beautiful people but beautiful minds too. How come? He’s a genius mathematician, she’s a painter (of canvases, not apartment walls, sillies). Presumably, they can boast of high IQs. Wonderful to meet them, natch. Snag is that over a time span of decades and decades, they behave weirdly, diving in and leaping out of love as if that four-letter word was their own private swimming pool. Cool?
Not really. First-time director Nitya Mehra’s Baar Baar Dekho opts for an excessively imported concept of time travel, overloading the narrative with so many flashbacks and flash forwards that you might feel as dizzy as you would on a funfair’s merry-go-round gone out of control.
Now there’s nothing wrong about a non-linear structure. But hello, because of the constant leapfrogging, the viewer’s interest is hopelessly challenged. Like it or not, BBD seems to be strongly influenced by Hollywood’s time-hop flicks like the Ashton Kutcher-toplined The Butterfly Effect and the Nicolas Cage thriller Next, not to omit Britain’s futuristic About Time. All points of resemblance, you’d like to think, are purely coincidental.
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Yeow, anyway, there you are in the eye-soothing company of Jai (Sidharth Malhotra) and Diya (Katrina Kaif), who have been mad for each other for donkey’s years. He’s manically devoted to maths, she’s more que sera sera about her métier though and isn’t likely to smash any auction records for her artworks at Sotheby’s. In other words, she’s chilled out, he’s anything but. It happens. Opposites distract.
From what you can figure out, Jai makes a boo-boo on the eve of their wedding, he procrastinates and aspires to be in Cambridge Land. Ergo, a mega-muddle ensues. As gratuitously as the Flying Jatt discovering superpowers suddenly, our math whiz is endowed with the gift to zip through time zones, a hyper-fantastic notion which may or may not permit him to attain a hurray all’s-well-that’s-swell ending.
Frankly, this storytelling device is a cat’s cradle of confusion. Why not pitch the plot straight? Maybe that wouldn’t have been hip-‘n’-happening. Plus, who would want to watch Jai saab and Diya darling age into old age, powdered wigs, wrinkles, tooth implants and all? Improvement alert: I won’t tell you what happens.
Admittedly, several valid points of marital discord are touched upon effectively, especially the need for quality ‘we time’ between young married couples. Self-absorption like the mathematician’s can kill a relationship. In addition, vignettes from a playful honeymoon in Thailand and the scene showing the birth of the couple’s first child in London are delivered with the requisite quotient of emotional warmth. Nice.
Why the incessant globetrotting though? Well, it there’s a limitless budget, so be it. Exotic locales, set decor and designer wardrobes for the lead pair do contribute to the overall slick-chic production design by the ace Sharmishta Roy (back on the scene after a hiatus) and Fali Unwalla. As for the cinematography by Ravi K Chandran, it’s consistently excellent.
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Needless to exult, the Kala Chashma song-dance interlude – albeit cadged from the anthemic Punjabi party number Tenu Kaala Chashma Jachda Ae – serves as a piece de resistance, never mind if you’ve already watched both versions several times over on YouTube.
Technically BBD is top-grade, but the to use the corporate argo, the content is a mind-bender. Mehra’s direction is serviceable, concentrating largely on the star value of Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif. The question is: can they act or just look glam?
The answer’s debatable: Kaif looks gorgeous in nearly 50 shades of lipstick but when it comes to emoting, at points she’s stiff as starch. And please could she still do something about her London Trafalgar Square accent? Malhotra’s strength is that at the very least, he doesn’t ham, preferring to go low-key and allowing his eyes to spark up or melt to convey the moments of pleasure and pain.
Of the supporting ensemble, Sarika and Ram Kapoor are reliably expert.
With all its ups and downs, then, is this time piece worth a multiplex visit? For a one-time watch, sure go ahead. Baar baar? Absolutely NO way.
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