The one thing that’s more bizarre than the CBFC’s order to remove the Hanuman Chalisa from a scene in the Anushka Sharma starrer Phillauri, because it fails to make the ghost go away thus hurting Hindu sentiments, is the film’s climax. Ok maybe I’m being too harsh, considering that Phillauri is the story of a bhoot stuck in the real world. While Anushka and the entire cast have pulled off the quirky narrative quite well, there are a few things that irk.
1. Anushka Da Punjabi Accent Kitthe Hai?
Everyone speaks in Punjabi, but Anushka doesn’t. Her character Shashi hails from a village named Phillaur in Punjab, but she doesn’t really sound like a native, apart from her occasional rustic Sat Sri Akal and ‘pind’. Maybe director Anshai Lal was trying to make her stand out as one of the rare few educated girls, who could read and write. But what does that have to do with her accent? She even scolds the roadside romeos of her village in Hindi. Lal got her look bang on, but seems to have forgotten all about her boli, something that is crucial for the sufi-at-heart Punjabi kudi she plays, in my opinion. Next to Diljit Dosanjh, Anushka sounds like quite the misfit.
2. Bhoot Meets Family
The families of Kanan (Suraj Sharma) and Anu (Mehrene Kaur Pirzada) are hilarious and make the first half quite fun. They’re full of humour and how I wish they would’ve been able to see Anushka’s bhoot avatar. If not, maybe the friendly bhoot could’ve pulled some fast ones on the big fat Punjabi family. I’m sure it would’ve lent itself to more madness, something that I really missed in the stretched second half.
3. Go Easy On the Stereotypes
Phillauri might have a quirky idea at its heart, but it’s big on stereotypes. From the disillusioned groom stuck in the middle of a happy-go-lucky Punjabi family that starts its day with a stiff Patiala peg, to a ghost that drifts in and out of surfaces and like every other ghost in the world, has unfinished business. I wish the climax had more punch to it as well, but sadly, all I could think of was close it comes to a Plasma TV advertisement.
4. A Twist in the Tale Would’ve Been Nice
I think I expected too much quirk from Phillauri. But for a film that promises to be refreshingly different, it does lack twists. At every step, from the beginning till the very end, Phillauri is quite predictable. Why does Shashi get stuck in the real world? That itself is a no brainer. You’ll get it, even before she does. Every turning point in Kanan’s life as well as that in Shashi’s comes as no surprise. That’s probably why the film seems unnecessarily stretched. Director Anshai Lal tries to heighten the drama at several points in the film, but doesn’t go all the way.
5. Suraj Nahin Chamka
If you expect Life of Pi kind of brilliance from Suraj Sharma in Phillauri, you’ll be disappointed. He’s a powerhouse of talent, but his I-can’t-get-married-just-yet act as the 26 year old Canada returned groom, comes across as a ton of potential wasted. Literally any actor could’ve played his part, which is sad, because Suraj has fantastic expressions. His comic timing is great, but his sad moments feel oversimplified. I wish he had more to say in Phillauri than be stumped about.
You come away from Phillauri loving the idea much more than the film itself.