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Phillauri  : Ghosts Are Corny
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Are you kidding?
Friday, March 24, 2017
Anshai Lal
Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Suraj Sharma, Mehreen Pirzada

The seed comes from the same tree as Johnny Depp’s 2005 comedy Corpse Bride but AnvitaDutt’s story, screenplay and lyrics have a life of their own. In its Indianisation, the old belief that a manglik should first marry a tree to rid himself of the ill luck that would otherwise hit his married life,is a situation potent with humour. The big fat Punjabi wedding of the bridegroom from Canada and his girlfriend back home is as lively as a bhangra with a sprinkling of naughty lines, the usual Punjabi comment about all of them being gori-chitti and an elegant aunt who drinks non-stop from 9 in the morning.


After Kanan the groom is married off to the tree, the fun remains as Shashi, the ghost who resided in the tree and he inadvertently married, floats into his life, baffling him.Piyush, the little domestic help, adds to the merriment.


The frivolity vanishes for pretty fiancée Anu when Kanan’s last-minute nerves about marriage surface and that’s not because of the ghost.But love prevails andShashi the ghost has a hand in assuring Kanan that true love can last janam-janam. 


Director Anshai Lal and his writer lose their flair for comedy once Shashi’s love story with her Phillauri begins to be told. Phillauri by the way is a person from Phillaur in Punjab. In the retelling of the ghost’s story, there is some well-done detailing to differentiate Punjab as it was 100 years ago from its updated version in 2017. Quite early in the flashback there’s a casually thrown ‘Vande Matram’ chant that establishes it as India in the British Raj.


But the screenplay plods between Shashi and Phillauri’s love story that’s consummated but culminates in tragedy, and Kanan’s dithering confusion over his marriage. Why he doesn’t explain the presence of Shashi the ghost to Anu is inexplicable and prolongs the film to 2 hours18 minutes. In fact it’s after the ghost reveals herself to Anu that the sensible fiancée wonders if she had an unfulfilled dream that’s turned her into a ghost.


And you hurtle to a solution that harks back to Amritsar in 1919, bringing a happy ending for both couples, the ghostly and the earthly.


One must appreciate producer Anushka Sharma’s constant quest to explore different cinema and she gives credibility to Shashi the girl in love and the ghost from the past.The special effects are also neat. But Phillauri will work only for those who can take a leap of faith about fantasy and ghosts. The balle balle crowd will favour the strong Punjabi flavor with a lovely shabad in the backgroundand the presence and voice of heartthrob Diljit Dosanjh.


For a film that attempts to be different but has restricted multiplex appeal, Phillauri gets a 3* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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