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Sarath Ramesh Kuniyl
Sarath Ramesh Kuniyl


Anushka is Phillauri's guiding spirit

  • Anushka Sharma in a still from the film
  • Suraj Sharma in a still from the film
  • Diljit Dosanjh in a still from the film
  • Anushka and Diljit in a still from the film

Think 'ghosts' in Bollywood, and the first thing that might come to your mind is a heavily breathing Bipasha Basu staring at you with terrified eyes. For old timers, it could be the gory Ramsay days! But that's not to say that there were only evil spirits, grotesque faces, blood and gore in that genre. Bollywood had its share of genial spirits in Bollywood—there was Naseeruddin Shah in Chamatkar, Amitabh Bachchan in Bhootnath and Bhootnath Returns and Salman Khan in Hello Brother, to name a few.

It is to the latter genre, that debutant director Anshai Lal's Phillauri belongs to. It is also actor Anushka Sharma's second venture as a producer after the highly-acclaimed NH10 a couple of years ago. If NH10 was an intense and gripping revenge drama, Phillauri is an endearing love story. Kanan (Suraj Sharma of Life of Pi fame) is a typical headphone-wearing, beatboxing NRI youngster who has returned to India after three years to, well, get married to his childhood sweetheart Anu (a likeable Mehreen Pirzada). While Kanan is yet to come to terms with his impending marriage, Anu has been, in her own words, looking forward to this D-Day. And so has been the families—more stereotypes like whisky-swigging granny, loud Punjabi families, DJ parties and lavish wedding preparations.

To add to his frustration, Kanan has to marry a tree first to ward off bad luck as per his horoscope. All hell breaks loose when a spirit who lives in the tree Kanan married, tags along with him, amidst all the wedding preparations. Shashi (Anushka Sharma), the affable and pretty ghost, has nowhere to go since the tree has been cut off and she is bound to Kanan. A novel plot, isn't it? She is visible only to Kanan and it gives rise to some hilarious situations. Kudos to Suraj for portraying the bewildered and confused lad to the T, with the right body language and expressions.

As the film progresses we find, through a parallel narrative which goes back a hundred years, why Shashi's spirit has been lingering on earth for almost a century. It is in this world we come across Roop (Diljit Dosanjh), a wayward but popular singer and 'poet' in Phillaur village, Punjab. Shashi, an obedient pallu-over-the-head sister of the village doctor Veer (a brilliant Manav Vij of Udta Punjab fame), does not hold him in high regard but, as in almost all Bollywood love stories, they fall in love eventually, with Shashi's 'hidden talent' playing the cupid. But things take a tragic turn.

Though the climax is well thought out, at 138 minutes, Phillauri is bit of a stretch. There are portions where the film loses its grip on the audience. Even the songs, apart from the endearing Dum Dum, hardly strikes a chord. Also, unlike NH10, Phillauri has nothing much new to offer (A pat on the back, however, for the VFX team for the ethereal, floating Shashi the spirit). The film does make a case for gender equality and handles it well, too. Anushka is a seasoned campaigner and she proves it yet again, making us laugh and go 'sniff... sob' effortlessly. She is instrumental in dispelling Kanan's fears about marriage and makes him realise the importance of Anu's love. Anushka is the thread that holds the film together, backed up by some captivating performances but let down by loose writing and mostly expected situations. A one-time watch, definitely.

Film: Phillauri

Director: Anshai Lal

Cast: Anushka Sharma, Suraj Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Mehreen Pirzada

Rating: 3/5

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