Barfi! Gives Disabled Voice
Film is often used to explore serious social problems. From the haunting condemnation of racism in To Kill a Mockingbird to the humorous exploration of bullying in the much more contemporary Mean Girls, movies allow for the exploration or critique of behaviors while accessing the masses through the guise of entertainment.
Likewise, Anurag’s Basu’s heartwarming new film Barfi! explores India’s attitudes towards disabled people. The plot of this romcom centers on the love story between an autistic girl, Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra), and the hearing and speech impaired Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor)—the namesake of the story.
India may be an up and coming star on the world stage, but it still faces multiple challenges as it struggles to meet the demands of its billion plus population. Most public buildings, even in the major cities, lack accessibility. And, in many cases, India’s disabled still face the stigma of being second-class citizens.
Barfi!, explodes these attitudes through Kapoor who begins the story in a relationship with Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz). Pressured by her parents and society, Shutri surrenders Barfi for a normal life with a “normal” man. When they meet up years later, Barfi is searching for his new love who’s gone missing. Shutri helps Barfi search all the while analyzing her ideas about people and love.
In The National, Kapoor explains the film’s takeaway: “Love needs no language, and you don’t need to be a certain kind of person to experience love. You can be differently abled, you can speak completely different languages, or not be able to speak or hear at all, but you can still love, and that’s what the film is about.”
“We are very excited about this film,’” adds Chopra. “This is a special movie. Well, at least for me. It’s got a very positive message and you come out of it wanting to do something great with your life.”
Barfi! is scheduled for release on Sept 14th. So far, critical reviews have been resoundingly positive. With a terrific cast, universal message, and solid plot Barfi! successfully reminds viewers there are no disabled people—there are only people.