Actors: Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Surah Sharma, Mehreen Peerzada
Anshai Lal’s directorial debut traces the incidents around the marriage of Kanan (Suraj Sharma) with his childhood love, Anu (Mehreen Pirzada). The twist is that Kanan marries a tree as he is a “manglik” and the ghost of Shashi (Anushka) is bound to him as she is the ghost on the tree. The film narrates two parallel love stories - that of Kanan and of Shashi.
While Anushka lightens up the screen each time she appears, the film shines only in parts.
Despite a fresh idea, Phillauri is a loosely-written film that fails to engross the audience. Most of the first half entertains in bits - only at times when Anushka makes you smile and cry, or when Phillauri (Diljit Dosanjh) and Shashi set the screens afire with their heart-warming chemistry.
Phillauri does not give away any interesting bit almost till the interval. It is only in the second half when the film focusses on Diljit-Anushka’s story that it becomes engaging enough. And the credit for this must be given where it is due - the enchanting presence of the two actors and the lovely chemistry between them.
The incidents of Kanan’s marriage and the flip-flop between the two love stories make the film rather disjointed. The story develops quite slowly. The current day story is overloaded with stereotypes about Punjabis - from over-the-top welcome to alcohol flowing freely all day and the loud Punjabi ways only mar the otherwise subtle tone of the narrative.
However, there is one aspect of the film that is extremely impressive, set in undivided Punjab in the pre-Independence era Anushka-Diljit’s love story is quite unusual. While Diljit plays a “bhaant, kanjar, piyakkad” singer, Anushka is the obedient sister of a doctor who believes that singing and dancing is not for “respected people”.
Anushka loves poetry and even writes for a weekly that is widely read in her pind - Phillaur. Everyone loves her poetry but Anushka does not unveil her identity because “acche ghar ki ladkiyan in cheezon mein nahi padti”.
Not only does Anushka find the courage to write and post her poems, she also becomes an intellectual equal and partner - more of the “sangini” for Diljit - as she writes and he sings. Forget the pre-Independence era, not many women in our villages can boast of such a subtle-yet-strong protest even in today’s time.
Except for that one point, there is nothing extraordinary about Phillauri. It is a light-hearted, average love story. Watch it, if you must, for Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh.