“The purpose of time” wrote the poet X.J. Kennedy, “is to prevent everything from happening at once”. His verse draws from the laws of physics and mathematics, and he writes: “Suppose your life a folded telescope/ Durationless, collapsed in just a flash…..Suppose you crash your car, your marriage…..Einstein was right, that would be too intense”.
Indeed, it would be too intense, just like this movie, which takes the life of a mathematician in New Delhi on the eve of his marriage, and compresses it into episodes of unexplained time travel.
Jai Verma (Sidharth Malhotra) is about to get married to Diya (Katrina Kaif) when he gets news of his appointment to the position of Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. He wants to relocate to the UK, but his bride-to- be wants to stay in India. A bottle of champagne later, he wakes up at his honeymoon in Thailand, goes to sleep, wakes up at the birth of his son in England, goes to sleep, wakes up as a father of two kids, and so on. By the time you get to the interval of ‘Baar Baar Dekho’, everyone has grey hair, the sets look like something from ‘Star Trek’ and we are fairly close to the middle of the 21st century.
There is no effort to provide a reason as to why it is only the Professor who experiences this minimalist reduction of his life into days, instead of years or decades. Everyone around him, including his tired and disillusioned wife, have clearly lived their time on this planet and are pretty exhausted by it.
Then it dawns on you. Jai’s thesis is on Vedic Mathematics and this is what he is teaching at Cambridge. The film repeatedly reminds you of this and also says that he has been called by Harvard to teach the subject. Evidently, the concept of time is more esoteric in Vedic mathematics and includes the idea that you can go back and forth, and even cause alterations in events. In other words, Jai can change a few things about his marriage.
This is where the Pujari comes in. He was the guy (Rajit Kapur) who performed the rites at the marriage of Jai and Diya, and it was he who explained the meaning of the saat pheras to Jai, connecting it to the notion of our seven lives of transmigration.
The question is: have these obscurantist ideas now infiltrated Hindi cinema? Are Vedic studies now being injected into popular culture?
If it is, it is not working. Emotional and social drama is entirely missing from the film and Baar Baar Dekho exists in the disembodied space of an overused concept from science fiction – that the sequences of life can be juggled by timely interjections at critical moments in the future or in the past.
There is absolutely no romance in the movie – zilch – and what is even more shocking is that the title of this film evokes a lyric from Hindi cinema’s most romantic period, the 1960s. For no fault of the actors, this film ends up with zero entertainment value