You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Befikre’

Smooches galore and impressive gym definition are more notable than the plot in this overly energetic twist on the old friends with benefits theme.

Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor, Arrmaan Ralhan, Julie Ordon, Akarsh Khurana, Ayesha Raza, Aru Krishansh Verma, Elisa Bachir Bey. (Hindi, French dialogue)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5108476/reference

Bollywood’s weakness for foreign locales gets the ultimate French twist in “Befikre,” a Paris-set contemporary romance that asks the age-old question: Can casual sex between friends ever really be separated from love?  Director-scripter Aditya Chopra’s first film without Shah Rukh Khan aims so hard to be in tune with current mores – kisses and rumpled bed sheets are as common as papadums at an Indian street fair –  that it screams “today!” in every scene, yet the energy level is kept at such a high pitch that its charms are unsustainable. Star Ranveer Singh flaunts his impressively sculpted physique whenever possible, happily ensuring gender parity in body objectification, though he seems to want to upstage co-star Vaani Kapoor at all times. While the stars’ on-screen chemistry works creatively, audiences weren’t buying it; receipts for the movie were less than anticipated.

Perhaps Chopra (“Mohabbatein”), back in the helmer’s chair after eight years, thought it would be fun to play with temporal shifts, but frequent flashbacks and flash-forwards just add to the running time. Like so much of the film, the opening is sweet, yet looks like a prettified commercial for a pseudo-French product: Scores of couples of every conceivable type (except of course same sex) smooch in the City of Love.  It’s here that recent émigré to Paris Dharam (Singh, “Gunday”) meets French-born Shyra (Kapoor, “A Random Desi Romance”) at a patently ridiculous daytime outdoor disco on the banks of the Seine. He’s excitable and persistent, she’s fun-loving and noncommittal, but he wins her over for a one-night-stand.

They embark on a wild and crazy relationship (at least, that’s what the original story treatment must have indicated) yet neither is mature enough to recognize they’re in love, and after a blow-out fight, they split. Later they get back together as friends because, let’s face it, they have so much fun together! Shyra starts dating phenomenally rich banker Aney (Arrmaan Ralhan), so Dharam retaliates by pairing off with clueless blonde Christine (Julie Ordon). The foursome have fab holidays on Aney’s enormous yacht on the Riviera, but it’s painfully clear to all viewers that Dharam and Shyra really love only each other. And themselves.

“Befikre,” which is Hindi for “carefree,” sees itself as a valentine to love and Paris, yet it’s the polar opposite of Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy, since it feels so childishly cartoonish.  Singh’s manic behavior never gets a moment’s rest: He’s a perpetual-motion machine, which is fine when dancing, but why can’t he ever stay still for just a second? No film industry does escapism as well as Bollywood, yet the movie’s shallow artificiality, paired with constant reminders of how “with it” and Western-looking the situations are, means that apart from admiring the eye candy, there’s not much else to hold viewer attention between the production numbers.

Musically there are a couple of generically catchy tunes, the sort that reluctantly get lodged in those still-unexplained regions of the brain whose function remain a mystery. “You and Me” could have been charming with about 10 fewer location shifts, and “Je t’aime” is about as memorable as any tune in “La La Land,” plus it has the added attraction of having the characters dance around their earlier selves in a nice touch of legerdemain special effects. However, even though most of the numbers are shot on location, they all manage to make the sites look like phony backdrops or stage sets, including the de rigueur scene at the top of the Eiffel Tower, replete with wind machine. (At least Kapoor looks stunning – special kudos go to costume designer Natalie Yuksel.)

Japanese-born cinematographer Kaname Onoyama, best known for shooting commercials and music videos as well as the documentary “Mr. X,” delivers attractive, brightly lit visuals without much nuance, forgoing moodiness for splashy universality. Editing, like Singh’s performance, could have used a dose of Ritalin.

Film Review: 'Befikre'

Reviewed at Dubai Film Festival (Cinema of the World), Dec. 8, 2016. Running time: 130 MIN.

Production: (India) A Yash Raj Films release of a Yash Raj Films production. (International sales: Yash Raj, Mumbai.) Producer: Aditya Chopra.

Crew: Director, writer: Aditya Chopra. Camera (color, widescreen): Kaname Onoyama. Editor: Namrata Rao.

With: Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor, Arrmaan Ralhan, Julie Ordon, Akarsh Khurana, Ayesha Raza, Aru Krishansh Verma, Elisa Bachir Bey. (Hindi, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as a reliable box office draw. Even so, “La Llorona” and [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content