Reviews

Phillauri: Boring past, inane present

Director: Anshai Lal

Starring: Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Sooraj Sharma, Mehreen Peerzada

Run time: 140 minutes

What can you say about a film in which a young woman, with her roots firmly in Amritsar, Google searches to find out what had happened in her town on the Baisakhi of 1919? This is just one of the many things that had me rolling my eyes in Phillauri. If there's anything more ludicrous than the CBFC objection to the use of Hanuman Chalisa in the film — how could Hanumanji have not driven away the ghost, is its logic — then it is the film's script itself, especially in the climax.

One expected the film to offer some good fun, with a ghost wreaking havoc in the life of a young man Kanan (Sooraj Sharma) who is just about to get married to his childhood sweetheart Anu (Mehreen Peerzada). What you get instead is a film neatly divided into two different worlds, with diametrically opposite stylistic tones and tenor, neither of which works.

On the one hand is the familiar, oft seen world of the filmi Punjabi shaadis with all the expected stereotypes — loud ladies and gentlemen, song and dance and silly jokes and constant chatter in a mix of Hindi, English and Punjabi. Add to that the new obsession of Bollywood, post Vicky Donor — a booze guzzling grand mom, the new mark of cool. The only change in the scheme of things then is a bunch of unknown, fresh faces playing the various family members.

Phillauri: Boring past, inane present

Then there is the designer past, history in sepia tone. It is all about the ill-fated love affair of a brash singer and a quiet writer. The high point here is Diljit Dosanjh making a rockstar of an entry as the singer Phillauri. However, his vibe with the quiet but cussed writer Shashi (Anushka Sharma) remains largely tepid than heart-tugging. This part of the film is weighed down by a needless cultivated solemnity even as the present-day Amritsar wedding gets way too over-the-top and slapstick with Sharma and Peerzada playing their roles like spoilt, badly behaved kids rather than two adults on the verge of matrimony.

For a moment you think that the writer is taking a silly swipe at superstitions in showing the weird consequence of marrying someone to a tree (as a cure-all for those under the influence of shani dasha). But then there's the far out finale set in Jallianwala Bagh, giving a tinge of nationalism to a ghostly love story. However, what still has me rolling my eyes in utter disbelief is a foetal ghost. Go figure!

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 1:01:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/phillauri-boring-past-inane-present/article17642834.ece

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