Phillauri Is Mostly Painful
Bright Flashes Of Brilliance Eclipsed By Long Tedious Events
A reluctant groom of a Punjabi wedding is married off to a tree citing a flaw in his horoscope. Now haunted by the ghost who lived on that tree, he has to rescue the ghost from her past and save his impending marriage to his childhood sweetheart. Vacillating between the ghost’s never-ending story of unrequited love and his own miserable tale, the film takes too long to come to a conclusion and even then it’s not enough.
Anushka Sharma as producer has chosen a different tale to tell. And the risk in such a tale is hoping to keep the attention of the audience. But who is the audience? The first half hour makes you think of Disney’s haunted tales made for 5 to 8 year olds. A lad discovers a ghost in the room, he crashes into furniture, faints (you expect birds in a circle chirping over his head!).
The servant cannot see the ghost, and mistakes the lad’s eyebrow wiggling towards the bed as a ‘Gay proposition’ thing and he runs helter skelter through the house. Wait a minute! It’s 2017, and the filmmakers choose to portray gay people as a joke? This is not Disney-like, and I begin to feel a slow outrage build up. But you will love the family of the bride and the groom: a lazy brother, cool dads, adoring mums and a granny who drinks at 9 am. What’s not to like?
The ghost cannot go back to the tree because it has been cut down after the ‘wedding’. So it watches the proceedings and asks questions of the groom. The ghost is Anushka Sharma and the groom is a mostly sad as he smokes up. Anushka Sharma remembers her life in the small town of Phillaur. A doctor’s sister, she leads a sober life but secretly writes poetry published in a local paper. Another poet in town is very popular for his seductive songs, with girls leaving their anklets on his door. He’s as cocky as they come, and the very first appearance and the subsequent song actually earns him a star on his own. He’s everything you’d imagine a local Don Juan to be. Diljit Dosanjh in his introduction wins your heart and gives the audience a wake-up call. The romance between Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh is shown wonderfully with a disapproving brother thrown in for good measure. Of course the pace of this romance and the never-ending song and dance sequences leave you wondering if the film were actually moving in real time.
Interspersed with interaction of the ghost with Suraj Sharma the reluctant groom, we begin to yearn for something more, something better. The bride, on the other hand seems so vacuous, she has nothing to do but cry at her groom’s reluctance. Meanwhile the ghostly tale of the past has become drab because she does to the gorgeous lad which most scary girlfriends do: change him, gets him to sing ‘serious, purposeful’ songs. You hear ‘Mirzya-Saahiba’ songs and you are reminded of how the film made on those legendary lovers bombed at the box office.
When the end finally comes upon the audience, the feeling of being arm-twisted into tearing up for a historic tragedy makes you feel disconnected. You just want the whole thing to be over with. Even this takes more than 20 minutes. You wish the editing had been so much tighter, and the filmmaker had given us more of the romance than painful village wedding rituals that seem to go on and on…
The film has flashes of brilliance, but the tedious sequences go on for so long you think you have aged when you emerge out into the sunshine.
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)