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Billu Barber
Directed by: Priyadarshan
Producer: Gauri Khan
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Irrfan Khan, Lara Dutta, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Asrani.
Music Dir: Pritam

This is no more an exception when a producer has changed the title of his movie in response to the demand of a section of the people. This is being repeated often these days.

Similarly, Shah Rukh Khan had to change the title of his movie 'Billu Barber' to 'Billu', released this Friday (Feb 13th) following protests by the barbers now working as hair cutters or hair stylists in very costly saloons and parlors.

Since the movie is called 'Billu' who happens to be a barber, the role of Billu played by none other than Irrfan Khan becomes vital. And, as usual, Irfaan takes a role and the actor and the character are perfectly in sync with each other.

He is one actor who has the skill to turn high and low, hysterical and restrained, violent and calm, according to the demand of the situation arising out of the script. The movie's script goes back to the Mahabharat epic when Lord Krishna meets his childhood buddy Sudama, and treats the latter as in the past when both used to break the bread together.

The same happens in this movie when Sahir Khan played by Shah Rukh Khan, now a prosperous star, comes across Billu, the barber, played by Irfaan Khan, with whom the former used to share his tiffin in the past. Interestingly, Irfaan alias Billu had sold his gold earring to fetch a ticket for Shah Rukh alias Sahir to travel to Bollywood for a career.

Meanwhile, Shah Rukh turns a glamorous actor and Irfaan remains confined to his crumbling barber's shop and his frugal family life! One wonders if both could remain good buddies as in the past. Incidentally, Sahir arrives in Irfaan's village to shoot a movie.

However, poor Billu is afraid to embarrass his friend Shair even in the midst of a persistent demand of the villagers who still remember their friendship.

We wonder why the its original version 'Kuselan' in Tamil didn't succeed in spite of our historical saga of Krishna - Sudama's long standing friendship even in the wake of the glaring gaps in their prosperity and poverty. Maybe the earlier Tamil version lacked Hindi director Priyadarshan's masala (usual spice).

Acting wise, all the characters have played their roles very well, especially Billu barber in Irfaan, actor Sahir in Shah Rukh and in our glamour doll Lara Dutta in her de-glamorized avatar of Billu barber's wife Bindiya, wearing crumpled cottons and low-back cholis!

Though all the three actors have acted excellently well but Lara has proved that she could synchronize with any given role, irrespective of being a beauty queen once upon a time. The village has a few key characters: there's Om Puri's self-important moneylender, Rajpal's Yadav's hopelessly untalented poet, a competitor with golden flecks to the hair etc.

Some interesting and mention worthy points of strength of the movie are its too many songs plus Billu's shop compared to Nirupa Roy's, while other shops are decked up like Rakhi Sawant, according to the villagers. The director's choice of village for the shooting of the movie is very apt.

The villagers don't lag behind in making hay while the Sun shines. They welcome the film star and crew and some enterprising folk and do a good business by making Sahir Khan T-shirts and haircuts. The village learns about it sooner than later thanks to his family's bragging -his children's school fees are waived off, he is gifted new furniture, all for varied Khan-related favors.

The central plot sounds fair enough, but the execution is below par. The characterization is shallow, and we don't really connect or feel with the characters.

The idiom-heavy dialogue (vintage Priyadarshan) makes sure the characters talk unnaturally at every turn. Lines like 'dar ki billi ko hath mein leke baithe ho'; or when a villager wonders how Billu can make them meet superstar Khan, another answers -`jaise hukka dhuan se, aur sharaab sapne se'.

While the film's art direction is praiseworthy, and so also the plot, it lacks tight editing. Scenes after scenes continue without justification and so are its dialogues being repetitive.

There are too many songs, but mostly average. Overall, it's worth any amount spent on it because of the major characters playing very well.


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