movie review: billu barber

Billu Barber (since retitled to Billu because the hairdressers association of India apparently took offense, according to Wikipedia) was the first movie I saw back home in India, as long as you don’t count Dostana, which I finally watched on the plane ride back. When I had originally heard about this movie, I was quite interested in watching it. Subsequent reviews were not very positive but I figured the movie was still worth a watch when I read (incorrectly) somewhere that Shah Rukh Khan’s role was minimal. Although he played a major part in the movie, he wasn’t around enough to completely spoil it.

The plot for the movie was somewhat different but somewhat Bollywood cliche (forgive the missing accent) anyway. Basically, Shah Rukh Khan (Sahir Khan) and Irrfan Khan (Billu) were childhood friends and supposedly the latter helped the former out a lot during that time. Sahir Khan eventually left the village to go become a big star, and obviously he succeeded since most villagers are Bollywood material, didn’t you know? He then supposedly got caught up in the industry and when he finally had time to return to his village, Billu had run away with his lover to another village and gotten married.

Cut to an unspecified amount of time in the future, and Sahir Khan decides to hold a shoot in the village that Billu is living in. I’m not entirely sure if this was planned or a coincidence on King Khan’s part. Anyways, what proceeds is the entertaining part of the movie: somehow it is let slip that Billu knows Sahir Khan and hence everyone and their goat treats him well for the duration of the shoot, expecting a favour involving Sahir Khan in return. You know, the implicit “I-scratch-your-back-and-you-give-me-a-full-body-massage” deal. Billu’s modesty prevents him from rekindling his old friendship, and his fear that his old friend has forgotten him is also playing at the back of his mind. Eventually the villagers decide that Billu is only conning them and they arrange for his arrest. His closest friend bails him out eventually.

Finally, Sahir Khan speaks at the village’s school’s annual function and describes his childhood with Billu. The whole village then feels bad for doubting him and of course Sahir Khan somehow manages to locate Billu’s shack (despite not being able to do it for the rest of the shoot–I guess he’s busy and all) and comes in and rudely asks for some food. And then the story ends happily ever after.

So it’s a pretty straightforward story and once again, Irrfan Khan must be commended for his performance. I mean SRK was just acting as himself (minus the tear-jerking village story which I don’t think is fact). The movie was good in parts, comic in many parts and not overtly emotional. The storyline didn’t require any suspension of logic and in that regard it was pretty solid. I’ll give the movie a 3.5/5.

Music

The music for this movie varied from great to just boring. Marjaani is my favourite song from the movie and the CD provides several remixes for that song, too. My favourite one is the Kilogram’s Balkan Mix version of the song. Apparently everyone in Bombay agrees with me because the only version of the song I’ve heard played in shops, on the radio, on TV and blasting from Big Bazaar is that. Oh well, not complaining. Other honorable mentions are Love Mera Hit Hit and Khudaya Khair. But they’re not all that good. I’ll rate the music 2/5.

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