Anyone who’s having trouble finding a reliable cure for insomnia needs only to head to the nearest cinema and settle down to watch Baar Baar Dekho. It’s a film so dull, so numbing, you’ll wish you’d brought your blanket. Described by its actors and first-time director Nitya Mehra as a high-concept love story, it’s really the cinematic equivalent of butter-free pav bhaji – promising on an idea-level, but frankly what’s the point of it?
 
It’s not even like the film’s premise is staggeringly original. The question of what you would go back and do differently if you could somehow see how your life was going to pan out, has already been taken up in films like The Time Traveler’s Wife and About Time. The key ingredient missing in Baar Baar Dekho is levity. It’s baffling how a film about time travel can be so singularly humorless.
 
That doesn’t mean you won’t laugh. I chuckled a few times myself, but they all involved Sidharth Malhotra’s character Jai, a math geek who says things like: “Mathematics meri zindagi hai”, and who goes on to research a paper in vedic mathematics at Cambridge before he’s offered to head the department at Harvard. You can’t make this stuff up.
 
Jai, as it turns out, gets cold feet before his marriage to his childhood sweetheart Diya (Katrina Kaif), who we’re told is a talented artist, although we never once see a paintbrush within a two-mile radius of her. After an argument between them one night, he wakes up every following morning at a different point of time in his future. He isn’t thrilled with what has come of his relationship with Diya, so now he must figure out how to go back and fix things.
 
The problem is that Baar Baar Dekho doesn’t give us much by way of life lessons that feels even remotely original or interesting. I don’t need to go to a movie to be told that relationships are more precious than careers, or that the only thing that really matters is the present. The characters in the film make these discoveries late in their lives; didn’t they have Moral Science as a subject in school?
 
The only takeaway I got from this film is that the future is all sleek shiny surfaces, voice and light-controlled gadgets, and the coolest crematorium that you can think of. Where do I sign up for when it’s time?
 
It’s a shame it’s the superficial stuff – the frills and the trimmings – that stay with you longer than the characters or their emotions. The film is gorgeously mounted like a spread straight out of Architectural Digest, shot at stunning foreign locations, and set to a slew of chartbusting tunes. Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif have faces and bodies that justify 50-foot marquees, but the passion is missing. Despite both their efforts to infuse feeling into the scenes, they’re let down by a script that is colder than the weather in England, where a chunk of the film is set.
 
For a film about romance and love, Baar Baar Dekho is curiously lacking the messiness of real relationships, and trades in quick-fix solutions to complex personal issues. At 2 hours and 21 minutes it’s way too long, and never once succeeded in making me care if Jai and Diya would end up happily ever after.
 
I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five. Baar Baar Dekho? No thanks, ek baar kaafi tha!

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