Phillauri: When Affairs of the Heart Run Shallow
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
As the sluggish first half of Phillauri pans out, your mind swells with a million “what if” and “what could have been” scenarios. Anshai Lal’s directorial debut, Phillauri has all the substances required to make an extraordinary brew. However, it fails to leave an impression because the good elements are used in all the wrong places and wrong quantities.
Phillauri explores two converging romance tracks. Set in 2017, the first love story is that of a modern young boy, Kanan (Sooraj Sharma) who flies in from Canada to get betrothed to his high-school sweetheart Anu (Mehreen Peerzada). Set in 1919, the yesteryear love track follows the epic love story of an aspiring singer Roop (Dilijit Dosanj) who falls head over heels in love with a young poetess, Shashi (Anushka Sharma).
Through its celebration of love, Phillauri establishes its point of convergence when it tries to tell you that no matter what shape it takes, love always stays alive even as time and generations elapse.
Ten minutes into the movie, you find yourself laughing at Kanan’s reaction to Tree Marriage and his amusing encounter with a sparkly spooky ghost is entertaining too. But slowly your laughter fades away when a dull and ponderous narrative proceeds to test your patience for the next sixty minutes.
The soul-stirring emotions that the narrative evokes in you is incredibly short-lived, and the ineffective sequences the film is filled with are painstakingly prolonging. Phillauri falls flat due to the lack of a high and low falling graph. There is an apparent lack of tension and drama.
Due to the deprivation of a plausible conflict, Phillauri just takes you through these seemingly moving love stories, but none of them hold the depth and power to tug at your heartstrings.
Phillauri fails to do what a film like Pisasu did with a heartbroken ghost. In Pisasu, Mysskin’s reasoning pulled you into two stories that leave you feeling inconsolably empathetic. But even though it is set on the premise of love, Phillauri fails to create an immersive tragedy.
In comparison to the other members of this fresh cast, Anushka Sharma is good but this is definitely not her best. Sooraj Sharma’s lack of a diverse emotive palette is surprising; he sticks to just one expression all through the film. Dilijit Dosanj makes a fleeting and mildly fascinating appearance, and Mehreen Peerzada has a long way to go before she can successfully shake off her amateur rendition.
From the film’s imagery, it is clear that cinematographer Vishal Sinha has no understanding of the 180-degree rule in cinematography. Succumbing to the tendencies of a videographer, he keeps changing the look space. This creates an unnecessary visual distraction. Other than these prevailing flaws, his visual storytelling holds promise.
Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing could’ve been better. There are so many prolonging establishing shots that could have been cut down in length. There is also a prevailing lag between the adjoining of cuts.
Nonetheless, Phillauri’s VFX and color grading are outstanding. Harry Hingorani’s character construction of Sashi as the sparkling and friendly ghost is carried out with such creativity and finesse. Last but not the least, music directors Shashwat Sachdev and Jasleen Royal have brought to life two refreshing songs “Dum Dum” and “Sahiba” with tones of effervescence and bubbling vibrancy.
On the whole, Phillauri promises the moon and stars with its substantial premise but what it delivers instead is two shallow love stories that could’ve been much more. If you’re a sucker for tales based on the affairs of the heart, chances are you’ll be more forgiving.