Anushka Sharma’s ‘Phillauri’ Brings A Refreshing Twist To The Bollywood Rom-Com

[Featured Image Source: Phillauri/Facebook]

by Saumya Bhutani –

Bollywood, unfortunately, sometimes garners a reputation for spitting out predictable, generic romantic comedies. Anushka Sharma’s latest home production “Phillauri” counters this notion with a unique perspective on the age-old tale of forbidden love.

The film begins in modern day Punjab where Kanan, played by Suraj Sharma of “Life of Pi” fame, returns home after spending time abroad in Canada to marry his high school sweetheart, Anu. As the festivities begin, Kanan shows signs of cold feet, but to make matters worse, the family pundit has some unsettling news for him. Kanan has an unlucky kundli (“birth chart”) and so he must marry a tree prior to marrying Anu to rid him of his misfortune and ensure his marriage to Anu is without problems.

It is from this tree marriage, however, that problems ensue. Living in the tree that Kanan married is the ghost of Shashi, played by Anushka Sharma, here to haunt Kanan because now he is technically married to her, as well. What follows is a series of comedic mishaps as Shashi interferes with the wedding events, but what ultimately results is the transportation of the audience to 1919 to discover Shashi’s own unfinished love story with recent Bollywood import, but longtime star of Punjabi cinema, Diljit Dosanjh.

The plot of Sharma and Dosanjh’s love story unravels with the unclear future of Kanan and Anu’s impending nuptials. The two stories are weaved together relatively seamlessly until they finally merge to resolve as one.

Because of its duality, “Phillauri” delivers more than your average Bollywood rom-com and melodramatic period piece. As the kids say these days, “Getchu somebody that can do both,” and “Phillauri” does just that. The set-up of a lavish Punjabi wedding with sassy Punjabi families, complete with an alcoholic dadi (grandma), gives the film a light and playful air. The parallel story of Shashi provides a more serious tone along with the interesting historical context of India’s burgeoning independence movement.

The film garners more praise because even its historical story slightly veers from the tried-and-tested. You’ll find no Hindu-Muslim love story-conflict here nor does the British presence in India dominate. Instead, we are treated to the wits and talents of courting poets and songwriters.

Still, my criticism of the film stems from the eventual predictable nature of the old-time love story. My biggest complaint is that the comedic potential of our modern-day wedding, goofy families and all, could have been tapped into more.

Sharma delivers a standard solid performance, but kudos to her and her brother, Karnesh Sharma, for co-producing the film. The standouts are the faces newer to Bollywood, Suraj Sharma and Diljit Dosingh. The former nails the clueless man-child afraid of committing, while the latter makes the 20th century countryside Punjabi bad boy look really good. Like… really, really good.

Speaking of Punjabi countryside, “Phillauri” also gives us the fantastic scenery of that countryside. Finally, the music was light, but slightly unremarkable.

[Read Related: #BollywoodOnBollywood: 13 Instances of Extreme Girl Love from Rajeev Masand’s Actress Roundtable]

Overall, “Phillauri” is worth your time, so check it out if you’re looking for a sweet Bollywood rom-com with historical and supernatural twists.

[Photos source: Screenshot/Fox Star Studios]

Samuya BhutaniSaumya Bhutani is a graduate of Vassar College, where she majored in History and minored in Biology. She wrote her thesis on the relationship between beauty ideals and the changing roles of women in India in the late 1970s. Saumya is an aspiring physician but also considers herself a history aficionado and pop culture junkie.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra

The Romantics

If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking. 

I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.

— Smriti Mundhra

As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.

In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.

For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.


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At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.

By Nida Hasan

Editor by profession, writer by passion, and a mother 24/7, Nida is a member of Brown Girl Lifestyle's editing team … Read more ›