Phillauri: Ghoulish romcom

Film: Phillauri

Cast: Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanj, Suraj Sharma, Meherene Kaur Pirzada

Director:  Anshai Lal

A man marrying a tree to ward off evil eyes from his romance is a little far-fetched yet Anshai Lal manages to get us fairly involved in his telling of this strange, romantic, supernatural comedy that revolves around that very young man, 26 year old Kanan (Suraj Sharma of ‘Life of Pi’ fame) who meets a friendly spirit Shashi (Anushka) residing in the tree, herself looking for closure after a broken heart. Canada returned Kanan’s big fat wedding with sweetheart Anu (Meherene Kaur Pirzada) was all planned for before he discovers his astrological unsuitability – He is manglik and to make him suitable, he has to marry the tree. But there could well be another reason for his trepidation. And despite the contretemps that staggers across a century of song and dance, there’s plenty of booze to make merry and even spell liberation.

Shashi doesn’t don the stereotypical white saree, carry a lighted candlestick and float around at night singing haunting numbers—she is far more earthy and delightful and definitely much friendlier. Her own heartbreak (with a pre-independence era troubled poet/singer from Phillaur played by Diljit Dosanj) helps her empathise with mortals experiencing similar pain and that in fact increases her appeal to the viewer. Pillauri’s soulful rendering about his own exploits with women passes off as sufi poetry while Kanan gets the modern day pop-rap to quell his confused/scared underpinnings. The verbal duel that ensues between the ghost and the young man is fairly interesting. First time director Anshai Lal though fails to up the tempo and make the experience more meaningful. There’s only so much patience you can have with a story that involves lost souls in search of answers (and in the mainstream format). The narrative goes back and forth in time detailing both the affairs of the heart in piecemeal fashion before it can culminate in some kind of grounding for the story to come good.

The pace is dippy and the narrative is pretty much uneventful even with the humour lacing it. Suraj Sharma is adequately confused as the role demands, Diljit Dosanj looks pained and Anushka looks insubstantial enough but her spark and spunk make that other-worldliness matter. The film is very much predictable and tends heavily to tedium. What troubles me the most about this film is all the running around in circles when the problems could have been resolved with plain and simple communication between the couples. If all this confusion is the way of love then why would anyone want to subject themselves to it?

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