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Barfi! treat for Darjeeling
- Keventers on screen, crowd excited

Siliguri, Sept. 14: Darjeeling today came alive on the silver screen in Anurag Basu’s Barfi!.

The audience at Inox City Center in Siliguri were mesmerised from the very beginning as a scene showing a market in Calcutta gave way to another in which a smoke-puffing toy train chugged against the backdrop of the lush green hills.

The film is a story of Murphy, a hearing impaired boy. When Murphy says his name is “Murphy”, it sounds like “Barfi”, hence the name.

“Darjeeling is an intrinsic part of the movie and the central characters of Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D’ Cruz have been portrayed as local people. It is different from the movies that were shot here in the past, in which, except for a few landscapes, the storyline was not relevant to the local people. This is second movie shot in Darjeeling that I have enjoyed. The first one was obviously Aradhana,” said Sujata Pradhan, a 55-year-old resident of Pradhannagar.

The two-and-a-half-hour film is set against the backdrop of the hill town between 1972 and 1978. It is a love triangle between an autistic girl, Jhilmil, (played by Priyanka), Barfi and Shruti (Ileana).

In the Inox hall, the crowd got excited every time the Ghoom station, Keventers, the Capitol Clock Tower, St Andrew’s Church and the Planters Club flashed on the screen.

The pristine woods, colourful prayer flags, tea gardens, misty hills, wooden houses and rosy-cheeked children in woollens made the experience even more real.

“The places were so familiar, just like we see them while taking a walk round the town on a cloudy afternoon. We could relate to the scene where the actors were seen eating at Keventers and the view of the Capitol Clock Tower from there. Although some scenes were shot in the dark, I could identify the places,” said Darjeeling resident Archana Sherpa, who is now based in Siliguri.

“The wooden houses with tin barrels kept outside for preserving water were so very Darjeeling! It was a practice to store water in such barrels in the old times,” said Sameer Gurung, a Darjeeling resident.

A group of college girls from Darjeeling said they could instantly recognise the Happy New Year Bridge at Jamuni. “We nearly shouted with joy when the Happy New Year Bridge was shown,” said Dipti Subba, a third-year student of a Siliguri college. The once unknown forest village of Khairani-Punding has been captured with its paddy fields, forests, thatched bamboo houses on stilts and cattle.

“The scenes where he (Barfi) is proposing Ileana atop the Ghoom railway station and when he falls from his bicycle at Tindharia after being hit by the toy train were so funny. The scenes where Barfi and Priyanka were riding a wooden trolley on the toytrain tracks are adorable,” Srijana Thapa, a resident of Pradhannagar, said.

An official from Inox said today the occupancy rate at the theatre was around 70 per cent. “We are screening nine shows per day. The movie has had a very good opening and we are expecting full house during the weekend,” said Sinchan Biswas, the unit head of Inox, City Centre.