Good : Cinematography , Production design , visually splendid , Good performances and direction , light hearted treatment .
Weakness : predictability , Quite more emotional drama at the second half
Sporadic Amusement. ♦ Grade C-
Successful fantasy dramas in Bollywood are a rare phenomena. With Amol Palekar's Paheli (2005) as a solid benchmark, it can be difficult to create an interesting film, as this ambitious project by a debutante director shows.
Kanan (Suraj Sharma) is a young man who arrives from Canada and is taken by his parents straight to his would-be-fiancée and high school sweetheart Anu's (Mehreen Pirzada) house for their engagement and subsequent wedding which is scheduled a week from now. Already mad with the swift turn of events and unsure about the whole marriage thing, Kanan tries to speak his mind, but it all falls in deaf ears. Things move at a faster rate as he is directed by the family pandit (Hindu scholar) to first marry a tree so that he can get rid of his astrological curse. No prize for guessing, but Kanan soon finds out that the tree that he married the previous day contained the ghost of a woman named Shashi (Anushka Sharma) who now believes and takes him to be her lawfully-wedded husband. A shaken Kanan tries to avoid her, but for how long? And how is he going to explain it to Anu, who now thinks that Kanan has changed from a genteel lover-boy to a weed-smoking hipster who plays around with women's feelings...
If there is a thing called convenient filmmaking, then this is it. With the setup of a big Indian wedding that reminds me of a yesteryear Malayalam-language film, Anwar Rasheed's Ustad Hotel (2012), used to introduce the characters, the film makes a promising start. Superstitious families, an over-attached girlfriend, and a mysterious ghost from the previous century - the film has everything a Bollywood film could ask for. And for some time, it even manages to entertain. However, the level of quality and entertainment soon falls when you realize that the humor is forced and the drama unceremonious and inconsequential. Kanan is a 26-year old man and his encounters with Shashi are so childish they are cringe-worthy. Suraj's portrayal as the helpless guy does not work either, even when he is supported by a talented supporting cast.
The only positive element that works for the film is that the suspense about Shashi's past stays strong throughout the film, mostly because it is explored non-linearly and is only dug deeper in the final 30 minutes. The base is quite similar to Palekar's 2005 SRK-starrer, with the exception of disappointing performances from the lead cast. Suraj sports a single expression throughout the 2 hours of running time - whether it is him flirting with his would-be or being terrorized by Shashi. Anushka does not do much for her character other than lazing around from point A to B looking like she hasn't a clue. All excuses defending her character should be attributed to bad writing. Pirzada is a cutie, but needs to improve her acting chops if she wants to stay. Diljit Dosanjh is the only main character who gives out an authentic performance, and we cannot thank director Anshai Lal for that. The direction is overall average, with Lal using tried and tested methods to narrate his story and still failing to impress. The fitting and well-crafted background score and few hummable songs further accentuate the film as a one-time watch.
With laudable CGI for a Bollywood film and the fact that the romance in the film is tied to an important part of Indian pre-Independence history, this second production by Anushka Sharma is a watchable but average affair. Go for it if you have nothing else to do.
BOTTOM LINE: Anshai Lal's "Phillauri" is a ghost story that flip flops between romance, fantasy, and comedy with these genres providing entertainment in the descending order. It is high on romance thanks to the backstory set in the 1910s, but is pretty low on comedy, no thanks to the writing. Watch it on TV.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES
"Desi ghost in a movie with a videshi feel!!!"
It's been a while since I had written the review for a movie & it had more to do with the dearth of movies which tempted me to watch. I did watch "Commando 2" & didn't feel it was worth the time to write something about. With the summer holidays fast approaching, there are a host of movies lined up for the next couple of weeks. This weekend we have Anushka Sharma's "Phillauri" hitting the screens & from the trailer, it looks pretty promising. Hopefully she wont be hurt by mediocre box office returns just like Kohli who had to retire hurt from the last match of the Ind-Aus series.
The film unfolds with Kanan (Suraj Sharma) flying down from Canada to Amritsar to marry his childhood sweetheart, Anu (Mehreen Pirzada). He didn't seem quite enthusiastic about it as he felt that they were rushing into wedlock, much to the dismay of Anu. Both their families were however moving ahead with the arrangements & one of them involved getting Kanan married to a tree to ward off the ill luck which might befall on them in future. It so happened that the tree had the spirit of Sashi (Anushka Sharma) & the ritual carried out meant he was married to her. Incidentally, he was the only one who could see her & as expected, it proves to be the trigger of mayhem. So how was Kanan going to get himself freed from Sashi or was it a figment of his imagination borne out of his weed puffing habits???
This is Anushka Sharma's second production after "NH10" & she has given the reins of the movie to the debutant director, Anshai Lal. It has been scripted by Anvita Dutt, the thread of which is kinda novel though there is a feel of Hollywood about it towards the climax. Unlike most movies, the first half is its weak point since apart from the initial laughs, hardly anything happens though it did have the scope for it, The second half is interesting when it focuses on the pre-independence love story & just like Imtiaz Ali's "Love Aaj Kal", this segment endears to the audience & I personally loved the climax (even though it was stretched a bit too much). The main drawback of the movie is its length as the subject as such wasnt explored adequately & it lacked substance.
On the technical side, the CGI was done well, Sameer Uddin's BGM was impressive while Shashwat Sachdev & Jasleen Royal's music was in sync with the mood of the movie. Anushka Sharma has done a fine job along with Diljit Dosanjh, who impressed in the intense scenes. Suraj Sharma (of "Life of Pi" fame) was just about adequate while Mehreen Pirzada seemed apt for the role.
Verdict: The film is unlikely to make such of an impact at the box office as it will cater only to the multiplex audience. But since the production cost is just 21C, it should be able to break even in a week or so. So would I suggest to watch it??? well I would if you are in a mood for a Hindi movie; but if you are in Kerala watch "Take Off" first before even thinking of anything else!!!