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