Aditya Chopra has issues with understanding love and relationships. He first started throwing up his ideas in 1995, and it took him close to two decades to finally get the people to understand that his interpretations are awfully wrong. Clearly evident in this ritzy romance drama.
Shyra (Vaani Kapoor) is a young, carefree, and promiscuous French woman born to Indian restaurateurs while Dharam (Ranveer Singh) is a comedian from Delhi who has final-stage satyriasis. They bump into each other at a rave party in Paris and immediately indulge in wham bam thank you ma'am. Dharam hopes that he can maybe start scoring, starting from Shyra, but is internally crestfallen to learn that the fun they had the previous night was just a one-time thingummy for Shyra, a professional travel guide who moonlights as garcon at her parents' rotisserie. The 2-hour game-play between these youngsters misrepresented as today's youth is what the film is essentially about.
Viewers are ushered into the film with a montage of various couples kissing and groping each other in the beautiful locales of France. As we move further in the non-linear story-line, Singh comes in as this joker, summoned by his Indian friend to add elan to the latter's comedy club-cum-cafe. But, we mostly see him as a nudist trying to get it on with Shyra, who has terrible taste in fashion, considering her nationality. The story-line tries too hard to showcase the youngsters' mentality when it comes to romance in the free world, but forgets to take all aspects into consideration. If the first half is foreplay followed by carnal knowledge, the second half is post-coital clean up, which is both gross and non-pleasurable.
Dating in the 21st century is everything NOT like one sees in Befikre. Instead, the film is a personal diary of director Chopra who chose to market it as something about no-strings-attached relationships. There is, however, some humor in the drama, contributed mainly by Singh. Albeit, there are too many improbable situations here, which makes the whole shindig slightly unbelievable for the viewers. Dharam shares an apartment with two homosexual women, while Shyra observes licentiousness while living with her parents. Convenience looks good in a store, not in a film. So much, that it flip flops from one idea to another, and often churns out dialogues pinpointing certain stereotypes and gives out critiques which do not pass muster. Today's youth are impulsive, which is not a novel thing about them, but writer Chopra thinks of it as a paradigm shift as we move ahead in life.
With very less background data about the protagonists, the film largely engages in differentiating them as Dilliwala and Pariswali, as if trying to tell that the film may not be universally relevant. Which is true to some extent. The makers also try to bridge the gap between how romance is perceived in India and elsewhere in the West, but falls through, because there is no consideration of the complexities and stigmas that come with it. They fail to realize that casual relationships are not just practiced in Paris and New York, but also in Connaught Place and South Bombay. Also, I'm surprised how the Indian CBFC even cleared the film for the morally-virgin Indian consumers.
Sort of a reverse primer for marriages, the film can most relevantly be described as the less faithful version of Karan Johar's exaggerated snooze-fest, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016). While that took a distorted look at relationships, this one here take the on-off approach. It refutes its own claims of how romantic relationships nowadays are - proclaiming that they are fleeting at one point, and then describing it as a bond at another. All in all, it blows its chances at depicting how hook- ups affect people's lives, because while love takes the backseat, lust hops in to take care of the wheel.
Singh marginally steals the limelight with his stronger performance, while Kapoor is let down by her costume and a weird air. Their mannerisms may be a reason to ignite vanity, but their glossy performances fail to ante up the narrative. For a moment, one may even think that the actors are starring in a ridiculously long advertisement by the France tourism board, but then chuck that thought because a French ad would have more French in it than Hindi.
Of course, there are some minor takeaways from the film, which I am leaving alone for your individual capabilities to grapple. Nonetheless, there is one dialog from Shyra's parents that Chopra gets right: "These days parents don't bring up their children, it's the other way around." Don't get excited, because even this is spoken in Hindi.
BOTTOM LINE: Aditya Copra's fourth film, "Befikre" is like a fancy boutique situated in a romantic city. It sells everything from horseplay to foreplay, targeted at the YOLO generation and endorsed by good-looking people. However, by the time you fill your cart with one or two good pieces and go to the counter to check out, you take a glimpse at the backside storeroom, and repulse in fear because you realize you have been duped by men and women who want to set bad examples. Skip for life, or use as a travel guide when you visit Paris.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? NO