Rating: 4 stars
Quick take: Fun-filled love ballad
Famous Scottish poet Robert Burns’ most famous poem, A red, red rose ends with the lines…
And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.
REVIEW: It’s an old school, endearing thought of romance. The kind that used to flame in books and diaries, a far cry from modern romances of Facebook and Instagram. It was a time when love seemed like a feeling reserved for ever after. Anushka Sharma's Phillauri is like a bridge between these two worlds, set generations apart. It has the subtle, sublime emotions of old world romance. It also has the spunk and verve of modern day relationships. Creative, funny, romantic, Phillauri is just as entertaining as its heart breaking. It’s one deeply gratifying film about love just going on and on, till infinity.
The story kicks off as young Kanan (Suraj Sharma) returns from Canada to get married to his childhood sweetheart in Amritsar. He has LSD inspired dreams of getting hitched and losing his freedom. He’s very much in love but he can’t get over his cold feet for commitment. Things get interesting when he’s married off to a tree, since he turns out to be manglik. That’s when the ghost of Shashi (Anushka Sharma) shows up, claiming to have been married to Kanan, since she was part of the tree. The premise of Phillauri is slightly outrageous and that works in favour of the film. Debut director Anshai Lal keeps the film quirky in modern times and the end result is extremely funny. In complete contrast, the flashbacks to Anushka Sharma's and Diljit Dosanjh's period romance are highly dramatic and follow a more traditional approach of story telling. They remind of you old world love sagas while the new age Punjabi marriage love story keeps things hip and happening.
As romances and comedies go, Phillauri requires a considerable amount of suspension of disbelief. You have a glittery ghost who’s an uninvited guest at an Indian wedding. But as the backstory unfolds and as the screenplay draws comparisons between old and new romance, Phillauri turns into a deeply satisfying experience on what love truly means. The film establishes a certain respect towards the meaning of love. Both Anushka's and Mehreen Pirzada's characters pine for love, but not at the cost of their respect. Both men, Suraj Sharma’s and Diljit Dosanjh's characters, go the extra mile to assure their loved ones of their commitment and feelings.
If you are a hopeless romantic, you’ll enjoy Phillauri beyond imagination. But even those with reservations against rom-com kind of love, will enjoy the quirky humour of the film as a ghost and a confused young man, bumble around in a colourful wedding. The CGI of the film is top notch as Anushka's Shashi glides around like an apparition with gold and pixie dust of course. The use of poetry and restrained emotions in the flashback period romance lend gravitas to the film. That successfully manages to tie up all ends and interconnect the old and modern romance is fantastic.
Anushka Sharma's performance as a loveable and slightly sarcastic ghost is entertaining. Portions of her role that are set in 1919, show a more sombre and serious side. The actress handles all shades of her character with aplomb. Diljit Dosanjh is a find for Hindi cinema. His natural talent to perform makes his character in Phillauri that much more endearing. Suraj Sharma and Mehreen Pirzada as the young couple make things affable.
Phillauri is truly a fun film. For romance enthusiasts, this movies got everything. For the casual movie goer, it’s got the right amount of humour. But for the auteur of love, this film and it’s poetic old world charm can weave a spell of magic.