Phillauri and the case for the friendly ghost!
There is both comedy and tragedy in this mischievous, supernatural romance
By: Sonia Chopra
Monday 27 March 2017
Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Suraj Sharma
Boy marries tree. Tree contains ghost. Now ghost is married to boy. But boy is about to marry human fiancée. You’ve got to admit. This sure puts a spin on the regular boy-meets-girl yarn.
I love stories involving the ghost, especially where they’re portrayed as fun, complex beings, instead of the red-eyed 'aatma' cliché.
I thoroughly enjoyed both the comedy and tragedy in Phillauri’s story. This is the tale of Shashi (Anushka Sharma), a ghost trapped in a tree for 98 years who gets accidentally married to Canada-returned Kanan (Suraj Sharma). The boy has to get married to the tree to correct the managal dosh in his horoscope, and Shashi is wed to him by default. The poor guy’s already going through an existential crisis when it comes to the marriage to his eager girlfriend, and now he has to deal with the befuddled ghost as well. It’s impossible not to giggle at the mischievous premise.
Anushka Sharma cuts a resplendent picture for a ghost dead for almost a hundred years. She’s portrayed as an illuminated being with animated sparkles all around. Her confusion at the situation is touching. And her frustration at the always-drunk marriage party is genuinely funny.
But where this character really comes alive (excuse the pun) is when we flashback to her original story. A story that’s a cauldron of romance, poetry, subversive breaking of shackles, and tragedy.
The romance happens with the village outcast – a singer (Diljit Dosanjh). Poetry brings them together. I don’t remember the last Hindi film where the hero was as enamoured by the heroine’s mind as with her beauty. The attraction here may have been instant, but the romance blossoms with a healthy dose of admiration and respect.
We’ve seen romance of all kinds – but bringing a ghost in the equation really shakes things up. And it’s fun when the supernatural being is sensitively portrayed; a friendly sort who is as much in need of help as the living folk.
Paheli— India’s official entry to the 79th Academy Awards—comes to mind instantly when we speak about ghost romances. It’s an all-time favourite with this writer! The film has a ghost (Shah Rukh Khan) fall in love with a woman, only to take the form of her uncaring husband to be with her.
Bhootnath had another friendly spirit in the form of Amitabh Bachchan who becomes an unlikely friend to the family’s youngest member.
I also enjoyed Naseeruddin Shah’s ghostly act in Chamatkar, that charming gem of a movie, where the ghost is nonchalant about its identity.
Phillauri’s intensity is low-lying and simmers beneath the surface. The film doesn’t rush itself, which is a blessing. The only area it falters is the overdone finale.
However, Anushka Sharma’s Shashi is a ghost you fall in love with. Hers is a story that has the heft to make you feel and root for the lovers. And most importantly, you realize how cool it is for a mainstream Bollywood actor to produce and act in a film that is so outside convention. For that, and for carrying the vision through brilliantly, I suggest you give Phillauri a chance.