Phillauri movie review: Anushka Sharma's Phillauri begins well enough but soon falls prey to its languid pace. It only comes alive when Anushka and Diljit Dosanjh are together on screen in Dam Dam. Then it makes you sigh for what could have been if the whole film had the same energy.
A ‘desi munda’, living in Kaneda, landing back in Punjab for ‘kudmaai’ and ‘shaadi’. His childhood sweetheart, who has been counting the hours to their nuptials. And a bewildered female ghost who fetches up just when the festivities get underway: these three characters make up Phillauri’s opening act, which see-saws between being mildly amusing and enervating. Phillaur is a rural outpost in Punjab, where the ghost used to live nearly a century ago. As a comely human, of course. Shashi (Anushka Sharma) is an obedient younger sister of a man who is a martinet. He keeps her under strict watch, unaware that she writes poetry, and is slowly being charmed by a local ‘gawaiyaa’ (Diljit Dosanjh) who is willing to mend his loutish ways for the love of a good woman.
When Phillauri, which goes back and forth in time — the present is taken up by the reluctant groom (Suraj Sharma), the growing distress of the pretty bride (Mehreen Peerzada), and the constantly hovering ghost; the past gives us the love story of Phillaur’s poet and singer — stays with Dosanjh and his fumbling, kindling feelings for his Phillauri, the film sparks to life. In the rest, it is slack.
The pacing is not just languid, it is positively slow, and it allows scenes to go on for much longer than they should. I found myself getting impatient in too many places. And though Suraj Sharma and Mehreen Peerzada are likeable and easy on the eye, surrounded by their very agreeable large Punjabi families (of special note is the whiskey-swigging grandma who doles out self-improvement tips and has the answer to a crucial ghostly problem), they are flat.
Anushka Sharma is good, but not as good as she can be, and that too only in bits and pieces. A lovely song — ‘dam dam dam hai dua sau pankh lagaa tere naam ke’– which features her and Dosanjh, made me sigh. With pleasure. As a romantic interlude between two adults, it is the beating heart of ‘Phillauri’. If only the whole film pulsed with the same skill and energy.
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