Fox Star Studios and Clean Slate Films’ Phillauri (UA) is a love story with a difference. It is actually a film about two love stories, set in two different time zones.
Kanan Gill (Suraj Sharma) comes to India from Canada to marry girlfriend Anu (Meherene Pirzada). Both the families are pretty excited about the impending marriage but the astrologer predicts doom unless Kanan first marries a tree as he is manglik. The needful is done and the tree to which Kanan is married, is cut off.
Even as the wedding celebrations are all set to start, a ghost comes to Kanan and tells him that he had married her while marrying the tree because she lived in the tree. The ghost is that of Shashi (Anushka Sharma). Kanan is petrified at first and he can’t even confide in anyone because Shashi’s ghost is only visible to him. He is now scared to marry Anu because of the presence of the ghost who refuses to leave his house as her abode – the tree – is no more. Seeing his attitude towards marriage change, Anu is devastated as she feels that Kanan does not want to marry her. Of course, Anu knows nothing about the presence of Shashi’s ghost in Kanan’s life.
Here, Shashi remembers her own love story as she sees the wedding celebrations underway. Shashi lived in Phillaur, a small town of Punjab, almost 100 years ago. She was a poetess whose poems were published in a local newspaper but as the work of an anonymous writer. She was too scared to even tell her doctor-brother, Kishanchand (Manav Vij), that she was a poetess. In the same town lived Roop Lal Phillauri (Diljit Dosanjh) who had a wonderful voice and who sang romantic songs. Although he was a drunk- ard, girls of Phillaur loved him because of his golden voice and his love songs. Roop Lal Phillauri had fallen in love with Shashi when he had seen her at a music event one day. But she had slapped him then and chided him for wasting his voice by singing meaningless love songs. She had asked him to use his talent for the good of society instead. This had had such an impact on Phillauri that he had begun to turn over a new leaf from that moment itself. In this way, Phillauri had won Shashi’s heart.
Dr. Kishanchand had been shocked and ashamed of his sister when he had found her cosying up to Phillauri in the latter’s house. He had warned Phillauri to keep away from Shashi. But Phillauri, while admitting that he was not fit for Shashi, had promised to mend his ways and come up to her level as he loved her. Saying so to Dr. Kishanchand, Phillauri had left for Amritsar to sing songs written by Shashi, for a music company. Dr. Kishanchand slowly but surely had had a change of heart and had finally given his consent to the marriage, much to Shashi’s joy.
The date of the wedding had been fixed. Roop Lal Phillauri was to come to Phillaur on the day of the wedding. But he hadn’t turned up. Had he ditched Shashi? Why else would he not turn up?
Did Shashi finally find Phillauri? Did the two get married? Or was there a problem in their path? In the present times, what happens to Shashi’s ghost? Does Anu realise Kanan’s predicament? Does Kanan marry Anu or does he live happily ever after with Shashi’s ghost?
Anvita Dutt has written an unusual love story of the modern day but has included in it a love story of a hundred years ago. So, there’s a modern love story (of 2017) and also a love story of 1919. The two romantic tales have been so beautifully interwoven that it makes for a refreshingly different viewing experience. Anvita Dutt’s screenplay is difficult but she comes out a winner with ease because she has balanced both of them excellently. The first half is full of fun, frolic and humour and evokes laughter. The second half has drama, melodrama and seriousness and is also more intense. But yet, the thread of humour is not lost. A very interesting aspect of the love story of 1919 is that one gets to see the points of respect for an elder brother, purity of love, faith, etc., all of which gladden the heart. The scene in which Roop Lal Phillauri promises to return to Phillaur to marry Shashi is fantastic and would bring tears to the eyes. But it must also be said that the pace drops after interval because of which the audience feels bored at times. The revelation of the suspense in the climax is extraordinary and just too unique. In the climax, there’s a scene in which the colours of the attires change – that scene has a hair-raising impact on the audience. Visually and even otherwise, the scene is absolutely deadly.
Anvita Dutt’s dialogues are truly terrific and touch the heart at many places. The comic dialogues are too cute and too funny.
Anushka Sharma does a fantastic job. She is first-rate as Shashi and her ghost and makes the story of the ghost completely believable. Hats off to her for a job so wonderfully accomplished! Diljit Dosanjh is so extraordinary that one can’t imagine another actor in the role of Roop Lal Phillauri. His honesty and integrity, so necessary for the character, ooze out of every pore of his. One can’t help but fall in love with him. Suraj Sharma is a revelation! In his first Bollywood film, he is outstanding in the role of Kanan Gill. He acts with effortless ease and makes his confused character so endearing. His confused looks, his stuttering, the fear on his face, his dilemma, all this has been portrayed by him to perfection. Meherene Pirzada makes an impressive debut as Anu. She is fairly good-looking and is a fine performer. Manav Vij lends able support as Shashi’s brother, Dr. Kishanchand. Salima Raza shines as Biji. Sunil Mehra and Suparna Marwah are lovely as Anu’s parents. Hobby Dhaliwal and Shabnam Wadhera are also too good as Kanan’s parents. Nidhi Bisht makes her presence felt in the role of Shashi’s friend, Amrit. Abhishek Banerjee is effective as Roop Lal Phillauri’s friend, Soma. Raza Murad has his moments as Gurubaksh Singh. Hassan Saad (as Nikhil), Shivam Pradhan (as Piyush), Amrit Pal (as Raju) and Kishore Sharma (as Panditji) are adequate.
Anshai Lal deserves praise for handling a difficult subject with such clarity of thought. He has also extracted wonderful work from out of his actors. Music (Shashwat Sachdev and Jasleen Royal) is very melodious but the absence of a chartbusting song is felt. ‘Sahibaan’ is a lovely track. ‘Dum Dum’ and ‘Bajaake tumba’ as also ‘Din shagna da’ are melodious numbers. Lyrics (Anvita Dutt, Aditya Sharma, Shellee and Neerja Rajawat) are rich. Song picturisations (by Feroz Khan) go well with the mood of the drama. Sameeruddin’s background music is superb. Vishal Sinha does a commendable job with his camera, capturing both, the beauty of the sets/locations and the drama, effectively. Meenal Aggarwal’s production designing is very good. Action scenes (by Sunil Rodrigues) are nice. Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing is sharp. Special mention must be made of the visual effects (by Red Chillies) which are terrific.
On the whole, Phillauri is a well-written, well-made and well-enacted drama and will prove to be a winner at the box-office. It will keep all its investors happy. The start may have been slow but collections will pick up due to positive mouth publicity. Business in East Punjab will be excellent due to the popularity of Diljit Dosanjh there.