Anushka Sharma produces and stars in Phillauri, a light supernatural romantic entertainer that is directed by Anshai Lal. Phillauri also stars Suraj Sharma (in his first proper Bollywood movie), Diljit Dosanjh (fresh off the critical acclaim he received for Udta Punjab) and Mehreen Pirzada (who had made her debut with the Telugu movie Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Gaadha). Phillauri has Anushka Sharma playing a friendly ghost that has nothing to do with Casper. The movie also tries to address the still prevalent practice of marrying a girl or a boy to a tree (and sometimes dogs too) that continues in some parts of India. But the big question is – will Phillauri manage to impress the audience like Anushka Sharma’s maiden production, NH 10? Read our review ahead to find out the answer…
What’s it about
Kanan (Suraj Sharma) is a NRI rapper who is pressured into marrying his childhood sweetheart Anu (Mehreen Pirzada) by his family. Though he loves her, he is confused about spending the rest of the life with just one person (it’s another matter that they began their relationship since school days). As both the families prepare for the wedding, the family astrologer discovers that Kanan is a manglik, so to prevent any complications in his married life, they have to get him married to a tree first. Though reluctant to adhere to this, Kanan complies for his family’s sake and gets married to a tree, which is later cut down. But what he does not know was that the tree is the abode to the spirit of Shashi (Anushka Sharma), and it is her that Kanan actually married. Shashi is now stuck with Kanan, who has to now grapple with an unwanted spirit as well his own insecurities with regards to his marriage.
On a separate track, there is also Shashi’s love story with a singing village Casanova Roop Lal Phillauri (Diljit Dosanjh), who leaves her with a promise of returning and marrying her. But he never does…
Phillauri’s strength lies in the lighter moments that mostly reside in the first half, even though the basic premise here is similar to Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. The best bits about the movie involve Suraj Sharma, the talented actor who made his name on the international circuit with his starring role in Life of Pi. From his reaction to hearing about marrying a tree, to his first interaction with the ghostly Shashi, Suraj Sharma is in absolute fine form. He is also fine in the portions where he had to show off his apprehensions about his upcoming marriage (even if they sound mostly baseless). Too bad that someone reminded the director that Phillauri is produced by Anushka Sharma, so the movie loses focus while trying to shift the spotlight to her story. Mehreen Pirzada is quite apt for her role as the lovelorn bride, and her drunken emotional outburst towards her confused beau is quite well-done. As an actress, Anushka Sharma is fine in her role and she does justice to both iterations of her character. Though her character as the human Shashi isn’t fully realised (for a strong woman of her era, she certainly chose an ‘easy’ path to end her problems), Anushka does best with what she can do with the role. The effects involved in creating her ghostly avatar are quite nice, though the CGI sucks towards the end of the movie.
If the first half of the movie held some kind of promise thanks to Suraj and Anushka’s spirited performances, the second half of the movie lets Phillauri terribly down, and there is no redemption anywhere here. The major blame falls on the humdrum writing involved in developing the snooze-worthy romantic track between Shashi and Phillauri. The pace that was threatening to slow at several junctures in the first half takes a nose dive in these portions. Despite Diljit’s earnest performance, Phillauri is not captivating a character, and his chemistry with Anushka is almost zilch. In fact, Suraj and Anushka had a better chemistry to show. His character’s mysterious disappearance can be easily guessed if you ever bothered to pay attention in your history class. That twist is also heavily borrowed from Robert Pattinson’s tearjerker Remember Me. Nothing wrong with borrowing an idea, but I am not a fan of using a real-life tragedy that leaves an impact even after so many years, to drive your plot while not doing any kind of justice to the event. Even Kanan and Anu’s track gets a slipshod conclusion after being ignored for nearly the entire second half in favour of Shashi’s. Coming to think of it, there is nothing new that the movie offers you storywise when it comes to both the love stories. The climax is an absolute let down and never seems to end, coupled with some really lazy resolution and average special effects. Barring Duma Dum, none of the songs make any kind of impact and their frequent inclusion just taxes your patience.
What to do
Phillauri has some spirited performance from its lead actors, unfortunately, the same spirit has not gone into the making of the movie. What’s started off as a promising film ends up as a boring and a tiresome hotchpotch by the end. Going by the nearly empty theatre hall where I watched the movie and the muted response the movie received at the end, I am sure #ShashiWasThere is actually scaring people away from the screens. Highly Avoidable!
2.0 out of 5
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