DALLAS: Befikre is not a terrible film, for two reasons. One, it is not a film at all. It is a disjointed compendium of flat jokes and vapid love scenes. Two, it is much worse than terrible because it is both irresponsible and reprehensible.
Aditya Chopra’s first film in eight years, Befikre is an assault on the mind, senses, sensibilities, intellect and intelligence of viewers. It is significantly worse than Dil Wale Dulhaniya Lejayenge, Chopra’s first film as a director that it tirelessly references. Dil Wale Dulhaniya Lejayenge was not the classic that Chopra believes it is. It is just one of the many poor films that the director has made in the last 21 years. Filmgoers do not need to be reminded of the film’s many soppy moments; efforts need to be made to erase the film from their collective memory.
Befikre tells the story of stand-up comedian Dharam (Ranveer Singh) and Parisian tour conductor Shyra (Vaani Kapoor) whose unlikely and insipid one-night stand turns into a boring relationship that involves bland sex and even blander situations until the two are forced to believe that they are in love and need to get married.
The usually resourceful Ranveer is unable to bring energy, likability or verve to his character. Dharam’s stand-up act is terribly flat and incredibly boring. That, unfortunately, is the least of the problems with Dharam. He is a sexist, homophobic, racist, disrespectful young man living in Paris who enjoys slut-shaming ladies while flaunting his own sexual escapades; assumes that lesbians will end up having sex with him; believes that French girls, unlike his desi love interest, are only good for sex; is comfortable creating a scene in a place of worship; expects ladies to be devastated after break-ups; and finds rape to be an appropriate subject for jokes. His is a despicable character and Ranveer, despite making idiotic faces, jumping around like an imbecile, and putting his body far too frequently on display, is unable to find a way to make him likable, or even acceptable.
Shyra is boring, unattractive and disagreeable. After her terribly botched cosmetic surgery, Vaani no longer has the looks of a leading lady of Bollywood films. Her decidedly androgynous new look is not appropriate for romantic films. The dialogues that she is given do not help her either. When trying to be clever and funny, she comes across as negative and cynical. Vaani is as responsible for the unpleasantness of the character of Shyra as the writers and director of the film.
Befikre, very irresponsibly and very casually, makes the lives of Indian twenty-somethings appear more glamorous and carefree than they are and can ever be. In 2015, Aditya had confidently announced that Befikre would be nothing like his earlier films and set up expectations for a bold, progressive and entertaining film; expectations that are badly shattered by the mess Befikre is. Aditya only has one tool – tepid sex scenes – to make his characters appear modern, revolutionary and subversive. And despite the pitiful attempts at making his film a modern commentary on the lives of uber cool Indians, he hypocritically ends his film by showing that the only logical and acceptable conclusion to a romance is marriage.
Aditya’s problem is his lack of understanding of modern-day romance. He appears totally clueless in the area and does not know that it takes more than just promiscuity to make a person cool, broadminded and interesting. Career, money, fulfillment, self-respect, responsibility, knowledge, ambition, and warmth are not attributes he associates with cool young people. He believes – incorrectly – that sex without strings attached is the only thing on the modern mind. Research, studies and surveys show otherwise. Aditya’s film promotes the belief that frequent and casual sex is commonplace, necessary and desirable. This in a country where rape is a real problem is both irresponsible and reprehensible.
Verdict: Don’t watch the film
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2016.