Posted: 13 February 2009 at 4:38pm | IP Logged
Critic Rating : By movietalkies
Friday Feb 13 6:13 PM
After dabbling in comedies successfully and not so successfully, director Priyadarshan shifts his gaze towards a very simple and moving tale in Billu. The film's story is very simple and it has a heart tugging quality about it which lifts it from its ordinariness and makes it a very good film, if not an excellent one. The film's story is based on the theme of friendship, quite like the mythological friendship about Lord Krishna and his poor friend Sudama. The parallels are there but they are not so in your face.
Irrfan Khan essays the role of Billu, who runs a decrepit, crumbling barber shop in this small village in the interiors of India. His business has run into bad days as a snazzy salon has opened next door and almost eaten into his clientele. All he gets is the remains, again very far and few. Already burdened by the angst of trying to survive his poverty with his dignity intact and give his two children and wife, Bindiya (Lara Dutta) a decent life, his life takes a turn for the worse when the matinee idol Sahir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) makes his entry into village for the shooting of his latest film.
The news that Sahir is Billu's childhood friend spreads like wildfire in the entire village and everybody wants a piece of Billu so that they can get close to Sahir, including his wife and children. What they don't know is that Billu cannot muster the courage to go up to his old friend because he is ashamed of his poverty. When Billu refuses to go and meet Sahir, the villagers, think that he was trying to dupe them and label him a fraud. It seems that even his children and wife don't seem to really believe him. But then he finds out that Sahir has not forgotten him and their friendship. The superstar finally comes to meet our modern day Sudama in his half broken house once he learns of his existence. And Billu again becomes a hero in the eyes of the villagers and his family.
The story and its premise is simple and sweet and one can see Priyadarshan's masterly comic touch in play even here. He has an eye for human foibles and uses them brilliantly to create characters who are so real and yet to so funny. His favourites, Om Puri and Rajpal Yadav, add to the comic flavour of the movie. A delightful touch of irony runs through the film, as it touches on people's reaction to Billu once they learn that he is a friend of the superstar. Everybody is nice to him, but with an ulterior motive, beginning with the school's principal to his rival barber. These perceptions change when the cops whisk him away on charges of fraud, and then again undergo a transformation when it is proved beyond doubt that he is indeed Sahir's best friend. Priyadarshan looks on at human weakness with an indulgent eye and creates comedy out of not so funny situations. The film has been written well and its dialogues and screenplay are just right for the subject. The only complaint, if one can call it that, is that it would have been nice to see a little more of Irrfan and a little less of Brand SRK. But there is a lot that goes into the marketing of a film and there is no more saleable brand than SRK.
Irrfan steals the show with his portrayal of Billu, the barber. This actor is truly blessed with talent and craft. He always pitches his performance just right. There is not a single discordant note in his performance, which is like sheer poetry. In this film, he underplays Billu and his angst, and delivers his dialogues with just the right kind of punch. He is quite the life of the film. Shah Rukh Khan really does not have to do much to portray a superstar. He gives the character of Sahir a certain kind of warmth, which is quite endearing. He works hard in the film as he dances with three divas and is quite impressive in all three song sequences. Lara Dutta as Billu's wife is a little out of place with her designer low cut cholis and anglicized Hindi. But she has tried very hard to fit in and she does full justice to her role. Om Puri and Rajpal Yadav too are treat to watch in their cameos.
One has no clue about Kuselan, but Billu is a sweet film with some really heart tugging sequences which kind of reinstate one's faith in the human nature. Well done Priyadarshan!