The thing with low or no expectations is that a let down is easier to deal with. Any positive is a bigger high. Going by the trailers of Befikre—despite it being a comeback for director Aditya Chopra who gave us the grand Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge two decades ago—it sounded like preparing to go for the same hackneyed party that you have no hope of enjoying, but wear a nice outfit and land up at anyway. It could have been worse but you end up with at least an entertaining evening.
Going by the recent trend in Bollywood about exploring the self, relationships and sexuality, the trailers promised a lot of 'action'. Sure enough, the opening montage, as the credits rolled, focused on couples of all shapes, sizes, colours, ages, orientation deeply kissing each other in Paris. Clearly, this 'party' is about love and expression, set in the city known for it.
Delhi boy Dharam (Ranveer Singh) with garam hormones comes to Paris to work as a stand-up comedian and meets Shyra (Vaani Kapoor), an anything-but-shy 'French' girl with Indian parents, who works as a tour guide. They meet at a bar and she buys him a drink for being endearing and honest.
A hook-up over dancing and drinking leads to a live-in relationship (with her Patiala-bred-Paris-settled chef parents hoping for more), which leads to a break-up (celebrated with an annual anniversary and lots of beer in the park. This part of the film sounds similar to the break-up song of Karan Johar's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil—what's with Bollywood dramatising and celebrating splits?), which leads to platonic friendship (this includes bailing each other out of sticky situations and nursing them when sick, the solid stuff that relationships are made of), which leads to a love triangle (enter cute investment banker with a yacht who loves doing it the old-fashioned way), and so on....
Kapoor has got under the skin (the jury is out on her facial surgery) of an Indian-French girl well. The transition from red-streaked hair to a shorter classic bob is somewhat symbolic of her evolution. Singh plays his energetic, exuberant, close-to-real-life self. The story develops well from the lust to friendship to love mode, with a few poignant moments—during their break-up, he throws her past on her face but later apologises, saying, “I judged you out of my lack of experience.” Later, when helping him 'grow up', she says, when you want to tell someone you love them or must break their heart, do it honestly, looking into their eyes.
If the ending wasn't as silly as it was, this modern masala would have held more gravitas. The larger message enshrined in its title, meaning 'be carefree', is a positive one and in keeping with a new sense of confidence that Bollywood seems to be exuding. Befikre turns out to be a nothing more than a fun party.
Director: Aditya Chopra
Cast: Vaani Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Elisa Bachir Bey