Films | Phillauri- Movie Review

Phillauri- Movie Review

Posted by Vivek on March 26, 2017 | No Comments

FILM – Phillauri

PRODUCER – Anushka Sharma, Karnesh Sharma

DIRECTOR – Anshai Lal

WRITER – Anvita Dutt

CAST – Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Suraj Sharma, Mehreen Pirzada

MUSIC – Shashwat Sachdev, Sameer Uddin

Every other day we see a film full of promise defeating its own self before the finishing line and this Friday we have ‘Phillauri’ filling in those shoes. It is the story of a ghost who finds herself married to a living man and the consequent unravelling of their interlinked fates.

Kanan (Suraj Sharma), a young Punjabi boy has been called back from Canada to get him wedded to his childhood sweetheart. He is in a dilemma, unsure if he is ready yet. Due to a fault in his stars he is cajoled into marrying a tree (which is then cut down) before he marries his bride. On the tree resides Phillauri (Anushka Sharma), a spirit, who tags alongside her new-found husband in as much dismay as him.

These parts make for a warm and ticklish viewing. A light-heartedness is infused in the proceedings especially by the good-natured and large-hearted Punjabi families of the bride and groom. It opens on a reassuring note but just when the film has begun to settle in its tone, it shifts gears and a romantic comedy turns into a soulful tale of fate-crossed lovers. It isn’t as much the shift in tone that is a problem, it is the long-drawn out manner in which the shift is achieved.

If the problem is set up the solution must be found. In trying to find the solution this fantasty, comic caper turns into an all-serious note on love and destiny wound up in history. The solution unravels into a long and winding backstory of why Phillauri’s ghost is still wandering fairy-like and uncompassed.

If looked at in strict isolation, this backstory has such an innate charm, its own life and blood that one can’t help but wish it was a separate film in itself. Diljit Dosanjh as Roop Lal, Phillauri’s departed beloved in whose memory she continues to roam the stratas, is every bit charming, rakish, heartfelt and soulful in his ‘drunkard singer’ turns a golden leaf character. The romantic and dramatic arc that his and Anushka’s characters take is infused with a soulfulness between them that is as warm as the earthy, yellow, brown, beige colour palette of the backstory portions.

But, and probably as it is meant to be, the film belongs and centres around Anushka’s character and the lady does it full justice. She rarely gets to play demure and obedient characters, nor does she often get to show resilience hidden behind a stoic exterior. She does all of it with the resident Anushka self-assurance although not fully supported by the film. She manages to look waif-like pretty, vulnerable, resilient and wise effortlessly.

The film is shot with a fablesque eye and evokes an almost mythical aura in its period as well as present production design suited to the fantasy world of the film. Suraj Sharma and Meher Pirzada as the young groom Kanan and his bride Anu, in a way encase the same generational rifts between lovers as Love, Aaj Kal explored but far more easily. There is so much to like about the relationship of the younger couple who are every bit as endearing as the older one is heart-warming. Not only that, there is also so much to like about the star-crossed lovers tale where Phillauri is not a poor victim but a woman who knows her own mind and will accept only equal partnership with her lover. And her lover offers it too. How often do we see grace as part of the emotions in love dramas of Bollywood?

Debutante director Anshai Lal has not only managed to extract solid performances from the leads but also the secondary cast, especially Nidhi Bisht who matches Anushka’s rhythm as bestie so well. The film leaves behind the taste of its stardust even though with lesser shine than it would like. Fantasy meets reality in a tongue-in-cheek manner enough for us not to take it seriously enough and reality strikes a sombre enough note for us to sit up and notice, just not remember for long after.

Fatema Kagalwala

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