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Billu - Movie Review

By Naresh K. Deoshi
Fri, Feb 13, 2009 23:00 IST

Billu Barber Story is the King in Billu Barber and not SRK whose histrionics pale in front of the other Khan, Irrfan, that is.

Your heart aches for Billu, the poor village barber with just one rupee note in his shirt pocket and a simple humble heart beneath it. His life scrapes the bottom way below poverty line. In his ramshackle shop he awaits customers that walk into his rival's refurbished salon across the road. At home, bijli has been disconnected due to nonpayment of bills, and Billu's two kids are thrown out of school for same reason. In this already turbulent life of Billu ( Irrfan Khan ) enters a tornado in the shape of superstar Sahir Khan ( Shahrukh Khan ), Billu's estranged childhood buddy.

Even as Sahir, who comes to shoot his film in the village, is worshiped (literally) by the villagers, Billu is elevated from the status of a pauper to a celebrity sought after by people who want to meet Sahir. His kids are taken back by the school. His shop is renovated by a miserly money lender ( Om Puri ) and paeans are written in Billu's name by a jobless and talentless writer ( Rajpal Yadav ). Even Billu's wife ( Lara Dutta ) wants to meet the superstar.




But somewhere deep down Billu is convinced that Sahir won't even remember him, forget recognizing. Billu's also too embarrassed of his own poverty to muster up courage to meet the demigod superstar.

It's a story that throbs with emotions. It tugs from within you love and sympathy for its titular protagonist, and it builds up suspense right to its fag end when floodgates open and you are overwhelmed by tear-jerking emotion.

Certain folklores have a never-waning appeal. One such is the lore of Krishna and his poor childhood friend Sudama. To this very age when film-stars are deified and many modern-day Sudamas bite the dust, the story holds relevance. And director Priyadarshan tells it simply, wittily, but not without painful (for viewers) digressions into the so-called item numbers by belly-button beauties - Deepika Padukone , Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra . A viewer feels better left off in the raggedy, tattered world of Billu than being subjected to the glossy, blinding sheen of the superstar's gyrations with cosmetic beauties. You almost wish the film's editor had snipped his scissors more on this glam quotient made mandatory by commercial concerns.

If songs - with the exception of "Billu Bhayankar" and "Khudaya Khair" - are forgettable, equally below par is performance by Shahrukh Khan who hams through most of his role. If he makes you moist-eyed at the end it's solely because the situation is so pregnant with emotion and not because of his acting.

The true King Khan of the flick is Irrfan whose understated, meek and vulnerable portrayal of a lovable, penniless barber wins you over. It's a performance you can see bar bar. Lara Dutta hardly gets into her character, but you don't really mind it. For there's a continuous comic streak from the likes of Om Puri and Rajpal Yadav in the first half.

The humour is genuinely funny at places but is mostly passable. The SFX - Matrix ishtyle - is better than what we normally see in Bollywood.

The best moment of 'Billu' comes at the end, when Sahir Khan recalls his childhood at a school function and Billu hears it from across a faraway fence and walks away after hearing it. His wife, who had been so eager to see Sahir, joins him. The movie doesn't end there. But what follows is worth sitting the whole movie through.

Do watch it.

Rating: ***



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