PS: Fun trivia about this film. The CBFC wanted a scene in the movie cut because it showed the character Kanan reciting Hanuman Chalisa to ward away Shashi’s ghost and she doesn’t budge. The reason, and I love this part, that Hanuman Chalisa is a sure shot solution to ghost infestation and the movie inaccurately portrays it as being ineffective against one. So many incepted levels of idiocy there that it makes me laugh and cry for humanity everytime I think of it. Watch this movie, if for nothing else, then to piss off Mr Nihalani and his band of enlightened brothers.
I had given Phillauri a miss in the theatres when the terrible reviews came out alongside it’s release. But the trailer had definitely piqued my curiosity. So when I saw the movie had released on Hotstar, I made sure we dedicated one lazy Sunday evening to the home screening of the movie. (Shoutout to Airtel for the most amazing 4G network in Delhi – streamed 1.2GBs from my phone where the home wifi and the mandatory middle class JioFi connection failed spectacularly.)
Am I the only sucker who absolutely loved this movie? My Punju DNA and a recent Amritsar visit must’ve added to the effect, but I am also talking about the whole lovers-reuniting-after-a-century theme. Something about it that the hopeless romantic in me completely falls for everytime. It is sad that Bollywood hasn’t got the beyond-lifetimes thing right since Karz (okay may be Om Shanti Om in the middle. And yes, my bar is that low). Until Phillauri, of course.
The climax scene when the lead characters reunite over the sea of spirits of the innocents who were mercilessly and needlessly murdered in Jallianwallah Bagh, I must admit I cried like Indian cricket fans across the country did, around the same time last night. Something about that place, that setting, the very real possibility that many such love stories ended abruptly that terrible day, and the thought that if ghosts do exist then there really must be many wandering the Jallianwallah Bagh, waiting for their unfulfilled tasks to achieve fruition, much like the Phillauris. Pass the tissues, please.
Another angle in the movie that I am an absolute sucker for – the strong female character. I am talking about Shashi, of course, and not the mopey bride-to-be who admittedly shows some decent strength herself, within the limited confines of her I-exist-to-get-married-to-my-highschool-sweetheart life frame. But Shashi, what a character! What a wonderful portrayal by Anushka Sharma, of a female artist and the pointless shit they had to face in the simple act of creating their art back in the day. (Thank God we have moved past this shit now.) And the role of Diljit Dosanjh as the drool-worthy Casanova who still knows an artist of greater calibre when he sees one and knows how to treat her with due respect, well ahead of his times.
Speaking of giving credit where it is due, especially to female artists, a giant kudos to Anushka Sharma who is telling us amazing stories through in her producer avatar, starting with NH10, and now Phillauri. Following her company Clean Slate Films with bated breath and googly fangirl eyes for what she does next.
And, finally, the music – oh, what a beauty! ‘Sahiba‘ has since been playing on loop on my phone ever since it was done streaming the movie for me. Even as I type this, the song is playing in the background and I am seeing Diljit Dosanjh crooning in front of that amazeballs giant microphone, which gives you real old-timey feels.
All in all, if you missed this movie because of the way-off reviews, or work, or life in general never giving you enough time to do all the theatre movie watching you want to do (or, as in my case, all of the above), do catch it now on TV or Hotstar. A work of art worth every second you spend with it.