By Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Priyadarshan is synonymous with ha-ha-thons, but the talented storyteller has been equally proficient while handling intense dramas like SAZA-E-KALA PANI, GARDISH and VIRASAT. Like VIRASAT and MALAMAAL WEEKLY, BILLU, the accomplished director's new outing, is also set in a hamlet.
Although the story has been attempted in Malayalam [KADHA PARAYUMBOL] and Tamil [KUSELAN] earlier, the story actually takes its inspiration from the legendary friendship between Lord Krishna and Sudama. In this case, the story talks of the friendship between a superstar and an ordinary mortal who runs a salon.
BILLU is a simple story about simple people, told in the most simplistic manner. There's a generous dose of glamour as well, given the fact that the protagonist's friend happens to be a superstar, but what actually works for the film is the simpleton's story. He wages a daily battle to make ends meet.
Although the film is engaging, Priyadarshan reserves the best for the finale this time, when the superstar reminisces about his childhood friend and the deep bond that they shared. The end is remarkable and is sure to strike a chord with all sections of moviegoers.
Final word? BILLU is amongst Priyadarshan's finest works. And also Irrfan and SRK's. This tale of friendship is sure to steal your heart!
BILLU tells the story of a simple ordinary man, Bilas Rao Pardesi [Irrfan Khan], living in a small town with his wife Bindiya [Lara Dutta] and two kids. His life undergoes a drastic change as superstar Sahir Khan [Shah Rukh Khan] visits the village for a film shoot. Everything changes. Things go from good to bad to worse to good again.
Ten minutes into the film and you get absorbed into Billu's small world. The salon is in bad shape, the family is facing tough times, the neighbours and acquaintances are fair-weather friends... Billu's life gets grim with each passing day.
The story takes an interesting turn when Billu's life collides with the superstar's. And the assorted characters -- right from an aspiring poet/lyricist [Rajpal Yadav], to a stingy money lender [Om Puri], to the principal of the school [Rasika Joshi] -- everyone wants favours from Billu. These characters only make BILLU more interesting.
SRK's track is equally fascinating and only spices up the proceedings. In fact, Priyadarshan has amalgamated the three songs [featuring SRK with Deepika, Priyanka and Kareena] in the narrative smartly. Not once do you feel that you're watching two stories concurrently.
The best part of the enterprise is its climax. The superstar recalls his humble beginning and how his friend stood by him in times of crisis. The writing is brilliant and SRK only takes the scene to greater heights with his terrific portrayal.
Priyadarshan is adept at handling relationships and with BILLU, he proves he can handle emotions with as much flourish as comedy. To tell a simple, uncomplicated story, without the usual frills, is an arduous task indeed and Priyadarshan tackles the material with remarkable ease. The humour here is subtle, not loud, and a constant smile remains on your face all through.
Mushtaq Shiekh and Priyadarshan's screenplay is foolproof. In fact, the writing never loses focus and the highs and the lows in Billu's life are sensitively penned by the duo. Manisha Korde's dialogues are simple, gelling with the mood of the film.
Pritam's music is energetic. The songs, promoted aggressively prior to the release, only get an impetus thanks to the presence of the three actresses. 'Mar Jaani' and 'Love Mera Hit Hit' are, of course, the pick of the lot. V. Manikandan's cinematography is top notch. The locales [Pollachi] are breath-taking.
In the recent years, Irrfan has emerged as a force to reckon with, his performances have appealed to all strata of moviegoers and his work in BILLU will only cement his status as a remarkable actor. Shah Rukh Khan needs to be admired for two reasons. The show belongs to Irrfan, although SRK could've forced himself in every scene. Also, he has chosen to opt for a film that's not one of those run-of-the-mill types. In terms of performance, SRK shows his true potential towards the finale.
Lara Dutta springs a pleasant surprise. She goes through her part with complete understanding. Om Puri is excellent. Rasika Joshi is too good. Rajpal Yadav is really funny in the penultimate scene, when he recites a film song of an SRK film. Asrani and Manoj Joshi are passable.
On the whole, BILLU is a sweet-n-simple film that lingers in your memory even after the show has concluded. The final 20 minutes are the highpoint of the enterprise and that elevates the status of the film to great heights. The film has the potential to grow with a strong word of mouth. Recommended... Take your family for this one!
Bollywood.com Rating: 3.5