You'll know that I'm a sucker for small-town, semi-arty films with substance :). In evidence I place the lovely Ankhon Dekhi, Dum Laga ke Haisha etc. Of course, given that this film was helmed by "Nil Battey Sannatta's" director, and Seema Pahwa and Ayushman Khurana were in it, along with Pankaj Tripathy AND Rajkummar Rao, I'd expected another treat. Alas, it was not to be!
Bitti Mishra (Sanon) is your average drop-dead-gorgeous small-town girl suffocated by conservative mores. She hides her smoking habit, spurns the various arranged marriage suitors who come knocking on her door, and swallows her tears when her well-meaning mother (Pahwa) chides her on her "un-girly" behavior. When she reads Hindi novella "Bareilly ki Barfi" she spies a ray of hope in the liberal outlook of the Bareilly-resident author, a Pritam Vidrohi. Good friend Chirag Dubey (Khurana) is instrumental in putting her in touch with Vidrohi (Rao). Love is on the horizon.
Bareilly ki Barfi has all the ingredients to make a nice, entertaining film - a luminous, rebellious heroine, quirky suitors and idiosyncratic parents. However the poor plot and the awkward contrivances to the story sink this could-have-been-surefire-hit to just about ho-hum levels.
First the good - and there is much of it. Seema Pahwa and Pankaj Tripathi are phenomenal. Rajkummar Rao is stellar. Khurana is very good. The film is grounded in realistic details, and offers us glimpses of an eccentric, small-town home (Bitti's). Bitti's mother is bent on getting her wayward daughter married, and her hospitality towards visitors in her home waxes and wanes in proportion to said visitor's marriageability. Bitti's friend Chirag runs a printing press (he has also published "Bareilly ki Barfi") and is quite the (young) man about (small) town. Some of the dialogs are pretty hilarious, and use the hindi vernacular.
An average film, "Bareilly ki Barfi" is a one-time watch for the very keen.