Phillauri – The love story of a ghost

 

phillauri

True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen – Francois de La Rochefoucauld

INTRO

Romantic horror is a fascinating genre in films. In Bollywood cannot think of too many films in this genre though the immortal song ‘Aayega Aayega’ from the 1949 reincarnation saga MAHAL captures the essence of this genre perfectly. It is eerie yet alluring and it does not hurt that you have a ‘haunting’ beauty like Madhubala enacting the part. Strangely enough Hollywood seems to be able to only envisage vampires in this genre of films, be it the DRACULA movies down the years or the recent TWILIGHT series, all average films though. The disturbing 1989 David Cronenberg film ‘THE FLY’ and more recently the 2008 Swedish film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN are the among the best in this genre. Anushka Sharma’s second production ‘PHILLAURI’ bravely ventures into what is virgin territory for Hindi films.

STORY

WARNING : SPOILERS AHEAD

Kanan (Suraj Sharma) which by the way is a distinctly south Indian name, is a foreign return who is all set to marry his childhood love, Anu ( #MehreenPirzada ) in an elaborate Punjabi wedding. Only hitch: He is a ‘Manglik’ and by custom(??) must marry a tree to set things right. Only he ends up marrying Shashi (Anushka Sharma) a lovelorn ghost who haunts that tree. The rest of the running time (127 mins in all) is spent with Kanan trying to sort out Shashi’s messy love affair with a singer Phillauri (Diljit Dosanjh) from pre independence India.

SCRIPT AND SCREENPLAY

The premise of a bridegroom-to-be accidentally marrying a ghost is copied from the 2005 Tim Burton animation film CORPSE BRIDE and given a desi tadka by the writer Anvita Dutt. Like #ImtiazAli’s LOVE AAJ KAL which dealt with two love stories running parallel to each other, PHILLAURI moves back and forth between the present and the past (in sepia toned visuals) where we come to know of Shashi’s brother not being approving of her relationship with Phillauri. The initial scenes of the ‘weed rolling’ jittery-about-settling-down Kanan are breezy enough. And the first scene where Kanan sees the ghost of Shashi is genuinely funny and so are the next few scenes.

The trouble is that the constant back and forth does not always work especially the languid pace of the Phillauri-Shashi love track. And at 127 minutes of running time the film seems overlong by at least half an hour. Plus, the climax seemed hackneyed and too convenient. Dutt who has mostly written lyrics & dialogues for urban centric films of Yash Raj & Karan Johar productions tries her hand at writing the screenplay here. The ill fated Shahid Kapur Alia Bhatt starrer SHAANDAR was the first time and based on evidence of what one has seen so far, she should stick to what she knows best.

TECHNICAL CREDITS

Shashwat Sachdev, the debutante music composer of PHILLAURI has a bright future in films. With soulful melodies like ‘Dum Dum’ and ‘Sahiba’ and catchy tunes like ‘What’s Up’ & ‘Naughty Billo’ (with a nice little rap by Anushka Sharma) this is one of the better soundtracks of 2017. One of the best things about PHILLAURI has to be the brilliant special effects and the way the ghost of Shashi has been shown on the screen. The casting by Anmol Ahuja & Abhishek Banerjee is unusual and one wonders how much say Anshai & Anushka had in the matter.Vishal Sinha the DOP of stylised films like AB TAK CHHAPPAN & BHOOT does a swell job of creating a rustic flavour for the Anushka-Dosanjh love track. Rameshwar Bhagat, the hotshot editor of Salman ‘BHAI’ Khan’s last two blockbusters (BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN, SULTAN) does a so-so job and the film feels self indulgent at several places.

PERFORMANCES

Mehreen Pirzada who made her debut in a film down south last year makes her Hindi debut with PHILLAURI. As Anu she exudes an easy charm and seems natural in front of the camera. It is just that her role has not been given as much importance. Yet in that one scene where she gets drunk and gives it to Kanan, she shows potential. Suraj Sharma – best known for his role as the kid in the iconic LIFE OF PI has acted in a couple of films since with his film UMRIKA even winning the Audience award at the Sundance Film Festival a couple of years ago. As the confused NRI stuck in a weird situation his is a nuanced performance, never really going over the top. His scenes with the ghost, Shashi make for some of the film’s most entertaining moments.

In the title role of the singer-poet #Phillauri, Diljit Dosanjh makes an entry forty minutes into the fil. He does a great job considering that his role is probably the most underwritten. He lends a quiet dignity to his character yet somehow his love story with Anushka comes across as tepid and it is the soulful songs that (kind of) save the day. #AnushkaSharma as the ghost in that resplendent gold dress is bewitching. She puts her all into the role of Shashi and her timing in the comic scenes with Suraj’s character is superb. As the haughty Punjaban from another era stuck in a time warp as a ghost, she does full justice to her role.

DIRECTION

About director Anshai Lal, must say that life has been a roller coaster for this Delhi lad who started out as a model before assisting directors like Saket Chaudhary (PYAAR KE SIDE EFFECTS) and Shimit Amin (CHAK DE INDIA) and it has taken a good ten years for him to debut as a director with PHILLAURI. Though one must appreciate him for choosing an off beat subject the execution is far from perfect. But this being his first film it can only get better from here. Hope he gets more opportunities.

VERDICT

PHILLAURI has some terrific moments, excellent special effects, good performances and a great soundtrack but is bogged down by inconsistent writing and an epic romance that simply fails to take off. Films with unusual subjects and lacking star value (read HERO) need to have great word-of-mouth from audiences to work. Like NH-10 which was riveting stuff. Sadly PHILLAURI is no NH-10. Watch it only if you are an Anushka fan.

Decoding NaMo – Charismatic. Visionary. Gambler extraordinaire

It was a Tuesday night. On 8th November 2016, when the Prime Minister of India appeared on live television to announce the demonetisation of high value banknotes, it drew strong reactions from all quarters. Spontaneous protests erupted across the country as cash shortage hit ordinary citizens and lengthy queues outside cash dispensing machines (read ATMs) became a common sight. Small scale industry was the worst affected and the rural economy of the country spun into a tizzy. Thousands lost their jobs and were left without a source of livelihood. Economists were bitterly divided in their opinion even while the international community closely watched the developments. Though supporters of the move termed it as revolutionary those opposed to it likened it to political hara-kiri (The word hara-kiri with roots in Japanese history literally means ‘suicide by disembowelment’) The PM, in an attempt to assuage the frayed nerves of a bewildered nation, appeared on television. The message was clear and unambiguous – keep the faith. Cut to March 11, 2017. Results from elections in India’s largest state of
#UttarPradesh (for the record, it is bigger than United Kingdom) came out with a landslide victory for the ruling party, BJP. The nation had reposed faith in Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi. Yet again.

It was in 2014 that the right leaning nationalist party, BJP had been voted to power with an overwhelming mandate from the people. The country had been ruled for ten years before that by the Grand Old Party, the Congress and anti incumbency had kicked in. There was widespread discontent with a government that was perceived to be neck deep in corruption and nepotism. The flamboyant leader of the opposition, #NarendraModi was seen by the vast majority as a powerful agent of change. Hailing from the land of the ‘Mahatma’ Modi’s image as a common man (he started out as a tea seller) prepared to take on the mighty & powerful endeared him to the masses. In the urban pockets of the country he was seen as a development oriented Chief Minister who made Gujarat into a ‘model state’ His opponents called this a carefully cultivated image and the whole development story a big facade. There were more serious allegations, of being authoritarian and of indulging in divisive politics. But come election time, all the muck thrown at the man simply failed to stick. Modi became the 14th Prime Minister of India.

It has been three years since NaMo (as he is sometimes fondly referred to) was voted to power and while his legion of supporters call this the best time since India attained independence almost 70 years ago those opposed to the PM call it underwhelming at best & organised chaos at worst. But what about the masses? That is a different story altogether. The Prime Minister’s flagship campaign, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan aims to end the sordid practice of open defecation in the country (more than half of rural India still do not have access to toilets) thus paving the way for better health and sanitation. The other big ticket campaign of NaMo is the Jan Dhan Yojna that aspires to provide financial independence to the man on the street. With over 20% of India not having a bank account till date, the number of people affected is more than the population of Japan. The third and most recent move of the Prime Minister, that of demonetisation aimed to usher in a digital economy and reduce the menace of #BlackMoney.

The opposition went hammer and tongs at each of NaMo’s signature campaigns terming them as badly planned, terribly executed and misplaced adventurism. The last straw was #Demonetisation, they said. The country would teach the ruling party a lesson they would not forget, they insisted. The narrative that was built in the countdown to the assembly polls being that the results would be a referendum on not just the abject failure of demonetisation but on the three years of misrule by NaMo. Modi never one to back out of a good fight took up the gauntlet and publicly declared that this election was a litmus test for him. Thus he made this an election all about himself. With results going emphatically in his favour, NaMo has again proved to be the darling of the masses. Is it calculated risk taking or is it knowing the mood of the nation? Is he a visionary or merely a charismatic rabblerouser? Go figure.

P.S. At the time of publishing this, Modi has anointed a controversial Hindu cleric to head the state.of UP. Thereby setting the cat among the pigeons. Yet again.

Trapped (Hindi Movie)- Home alone and nowhere to go

INTRO
In film making there is perhaps nothing more difficult than to make a film with just one actor. Which explains why only a handful of such films got made ever. It is not just the actor who does all the heavy lifting. The writers have the arduous task of keeping the viewer interested with only compelling content to fall back on. Three films come to mind right away. Ang Lee’s masterful ‘LIFE OF PI’, the Robert Zemeckis directed ‘CASTAWAY’ made memorable by a bravura performance by Tom Hanks and Danny Boyle’s gut wrenching ‘127 HOURS’ Interestingly enough though all films raked in the moolah and wowed critics they were not ‘solo actor’ films in the strictest sense because they had other actors who appeared either in the initial scenes or via cleverly incorporated flashback sequences. The nearest a film came in recent times to being a completely ‘solo actor’ film was the 2010 Ryan Reynolds starrer ‘BURIED’ Such a pity that this very good film has been watched so little. This week’s Hindi release, Vikramaditya Motwane’s TRAPPED is a brave attempt at making a ‘solo actor’ film.

STORY

Forget being marooned at sea or on a deserted island. What if you got ‘trapped’ into your own home in the heart of a burgeoning metropolis with no resources (food, electricity, cellphone) to fall back on? That is the basic premise of Motwane’s #Trapped. That this could very well happen to you, me or anyone else living in the urban ghettos that our cities have become, is what makes TRAPPED so scary. And so incredibly relatable. For good effect the lead protagonist is called Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao) so you know that this very ordinary looking bloke will not go down easily, will not cave in without a fight. Will he make come out of this ordeal alive? One would not want to reveal the climax and spoil the fun.

TECHNICAL CREDITS

One cannot praise the debutante writers of TRAPPED, Amit Joshi & Hardik Mehta enough. For most of the running time of just over a 100 minutes, the film is very engaging. Not just that, there are parts which are nerve wracking in equal measure. So much so that at one point, I almost jumped out of the seat mistaking a white plastic cover lying near the feet for mice. In many ways, TRAPPED helps us confront our own demons, our hidden fears. Be it a flying cockroach, a crawling lizard or a scurrying rat we all have our nightmares. Plaudits must also go to cinematographer Sidharth Diwan (of QUEEN fame) who transports the viewer into that unfinished flat with Shaurya. Thus making TRAPPED an immersive experience like no film in recent memory (the last one was LSD that also starred Rajkummar Rao)The decision to screen the film without an interval is a loaded one. Which means that the both the editing & the writing has to be razor sharp to keep audience interest from flagging. Editor Nitin Baid who did great work in the acclaimed ‘MASAAN’ rises to the challenge and ensures that TRAPPED hardly ever gets overbearing or self indulgent. For this a large part of the credit must go to Motwane.

justify

National award winning actress from the North East Geetanjali Thapa makes a fleeting appearance as Noor the woman for whom Shaurya buys the flat and it is his love for her that keeps him going. Khushboo Upadhyay (last seen with Rajkummar in the little seen CITYLIGHTS) appears in what is the film’s best scene as the one ray of hope for Shaurya to get out from where he is trapped and it is a testament to her ability as an actor that her role stays with you much after the film has ended.TRAPPED belongs well and truly to Rajkummar Rao. Like all his other roles Rao is not as interested in showing off his acting chops as he is in getting into the skin of the role. Be it a voyeur (LOVE SEX AUR DHOKA) a misogynistic fiance (QUEEN) a simpleton (KAI PO CHE) a pervert (RAGINI MMS) or a human rights activist (SHAHID) Rao is at his best when playing characters with frailties. No heroism or heropanti for this guy, he is just an average Joe like the rest of us. For all those actors of Bollywood who mistake method acting for growing a beard or developing a paunch, Rajkummar’s Shaurya in TRAPPED is a valuable lesson.

DIRECTION

Vikramaditya Motwane, a protege of auteur filmmaker Anurag Kashyap impressed one and all with his debut film ‘UDAAN’ and followed it up with the very invigorating ‘LOOTERA’ That was four years ago. TRAPPED has been well worth the wait and has enough moments all through that are memorable takeaways. The one stand out moment in the film is when one sees the flicker of hope in Rajkummar’s crestfallen eyes. Just that is worth the price of a movie ticket. One hopes that with TRAPPED, Motwane will finally ‘breakout’

VERDICT

TRAPPED released without any fanfare, pre release marketing or any frills of any sorts. So much so that even hardcore cinephiles were unaware of it hitting theaters this week. In addition the seriousness of the subject along with the noir style of treatment makes it difficult for the film to make it big at the box office. But that should not dissuade lovers of good cinema. TRAPPED is a must watch for the discerning among the audience.

Beauty & the Beast 3D – Enchanting then, mesmerising now

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more
intelligent read them more fairy tales – Albert Einstein

INTRO

When French author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve better known as Madame de Villeneuve wrote La Belle et la Bete way back in the 17th century little did she know that three hundred years down the line, it would continue to fascinate filmmakers and audiences the world over? For the record, before this, there have been no less than nine movie adaptations of this timeless fairy tale. And one is not even talking about the ones made for stage and television. To no one’s great surprise, Disney which seems to have a natural flair for adapting such classic fables to film produced the most successful version of them all in the year 1991. It made over $400 million back then and even snared a couple of awards at the Academy’s. Which brings us to the question – What’s new this time?

STORY

A young and beautiful girl must live as the prisoner in a castle with a fearsome Beast in order to save her father’s life. The Beast tries desperately to woo the beauty who has dreams of marrying a handsome prince some day. Here is the twist in the tale. The Beast was actually a prince till a curse did him in and meeting the young girl is serendipity. And we all know what will happen next. This is a fairy tale remember? (albeit a dark one)
TECHNICAL CREDITSOne of the mainstays of most Disney animation films has been the music. Right from the 1991 version of this very film to the classic LION KING and this 3D version does not disappoint either. The music by Alan Menken (a regular at Disney who won the Oscar for his score in the 1991 version) which is superb, is further elevated to greater heights by the lavish production values, the absolutely stunning visuals and the masterly lens work by Tobias Schliessler (for whom this is a totally new genre) Among the songs ‘Be our Guest’ which one is informed has been sung by Ewan McGregor is a real gem as is the duet sungby Ariana Grande & John Legend which has incidentally become a huge hit online. The piece de resistance has to be the song ‘Gaston’ Here you have the sidekick (Josh Gad) professing his love for the villain of the piece, though not in some many words. Gay underpinnings? Disney you have surely come a long way.

PERFORMANCES

Now one has never been a huge fan of either the Harry Potter films nor of the leading lady of the franchise, Emma Watson. So it was disappointing to learn that she was picked to play this titular role which she seems ill equipped to play. But credit must go to the writers and the director of the film for writing a character that is so well rounded. The character is quite endearing. Dan Stevens as the Beast has the tough job of trying to emote inspite of layers of make up and CGI seen in the light of which he is fairly all right. The scene stealers of the show are the villain Luke Evans(as Gaston) and his mercurial side kick, LeFou (a brilliant Josh Gad)

The real stars of the film are the tremendous ensemble which includes the who’s who of the acting world. If you know the story of this fairy tale well you would also know that along with the prince all those residing at the castle had got cursed. Which is why you have Stanley Tucci playing a piano, Sir Ian McKellen as a clock, Emma Thompson as a teapot and Ewan McGregor becoming a candlestick. There are other objects too and they all have just one purpose – to make the beauty fall in love with the beast.

DIRECTION
This live action fantasy marks a return to form for Academy award winner Bill Condon who after a smashing debut in GODS AND MONSTERS had disappointed hugely with his choice of films (read TWILIGHT) Right from the very first scene where the prince is turned by an enchantress into the Beast, this one is very entertaining and keeps the audiences invested in the drama till the very end. After LA LA LAND wowed folks the world over, the BEAUTY & THE BEAST 3D is another musical that hits all the right notes. Here is to more singing and dancing at the movies.

VERDICT

Even if you have watched the older version umpteen number of times, this one is still worth a watch. As far as Disney is concerned they have a winner on their hands, one that is set up sweep the box office. All over the world.

The art of sledging – A brief history

What do WG Grace, Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan and Jeremy Roenick all have in common? Apart from the fact that they were all legendary in their respective sports of cricket, boxing, basketball and ice hockey that is. These gentlemen were equally well known for their #VerbalGamesmanship turning it into some sort of a fine art. Ali widely regarded as the greatest boxer to have ever graced the game was known to verbally taunt his opponents both inside the ring & outside it with the sole aim of mental disintegration. #MichaelJordan would mercilessly ‘slam dunk’ his opponents as much with his intimidating #TrashTalk as with his fiesty moves on the court. And NHL fans back in the US would readily agree that all that #Chirping (the term for verbal heckling in ice hockey) by Roenick made for an enthralling viewer experience. So when some well meaning #Cricket writers became aghast at all the sledging in the ongoing series between the top two Test playing nations of world cricket, all one can say to them is – Keep your wig on, folks !

A doctor by profession, #WGGrace was an enigma in the truest sense of the word. Acknowledged by historians as one of those instrumental in the growth of cricket, W.G. (as he was affectionately called by fans) had a dubious reputation of refusing to leave the field when declared out by on field officials (read umpires) And there is enough evidence to suggest that it was not the Aussies but rather the English led from the front by W.G. who were the first to do the ‘yapping’ on a cricket field. W.G. would browbeat not just his opponents but even the assembled spectators with his incisive repartees. Now this certainly flies in the face of ‘Cricket is a gentleman’s game’ theory espoused by some purists to oppose the practice of sledging. If one of the founding fathers of the game itself was himself a motormouth of sorts what is all the fuss about?

There are those who reckon that sledging is something that happens quite naturally in the heat of the moment due to intense competition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sledging is a powerful tool of psychological warfare that can turn the tide in one’s favor as long as it is done the right way and with the right amount of finesse. Now using the words sledging and finesse in the same sentence might sound like an oxymoron but there is really much more to sledging than just cussing and swearing. Sledging is as much about wry humour as it is about timing the banter to perfection. Even the men from Down Under who have dominated world cricket (even in sledging) for the last couple of decades will readily agree that sledging is not such a bright idea when a batsman from the opposing team is in the form of his life. Or if that batsman happens to be a certain #SachinTendulkar.

Getting under the skin (of an opponent) Ask ex Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell the reasons for which sledging was usually done in the heydays and that is the reply you will get. He should know. Chappell was captain of the team in the 1970s that got dubbed as the Ugly Australians for brandishing profanity like a weapon that could get them out of sticky situations on the field. So when one read his statements in the last couple of days admonishing the hot headed Indian team captain Virat Kohli for giving the Aussies a bit of their own medicine, one can only smile at the irony of it all. The shoe, it seems, is well and truly on the other foot. Watch this space for more!

LOGAN – The last hurrah of Wolverine

I am not always good and noble. I am the hero of this story but I have my off moments

– P.G.Wodehouse

INTRO

The above lines perhaps describe best the enigmatic superhero from the Marvel Comics, Wolverine. Of all the #Mutant characters created by writer #StanLee, the ones that fans love the most has to be this brooding ageless wonder with a penchant for blood letting. And those fearsome claws which cut through his own flesh before wreaking havoc on his enemies. He is a loner who drinks heavily and like all antiheroes he has scant regard for authority. No wonder that James Howlett (Logan’s birth name) got three stand alone films. In 2009, #X-Men Origins:Wolverine released to a tepid response which delayed production of the second in the series titled The Wolverine. Released in 2013 the film helmed by James Mangold was a much better effort and received a thumbs up from fans. Thus setting it up nicely for what is touted to be the swansong for this iconic character.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

STORY

The year is 2029. Logan is aging more and healing less. His bete noire, the wretched #Admantium is finally getting the better of him. Not just binge drinking now, Logan is now hooked to prescription drugs. Sign of the times? His friend, Professor X is not doing much better either and having seizures every now and then. Enter this mysterious young girl who Logan agrees to escort (albeit reluctantly) to a place that is ironically called Eden. The rest of the movie is all about this journey that unfolds almost completely in the deserts (a first for the franchise)

TECHNICAL CREDITS

The first glimpse of LOGAN was accompanied by the poignant voice of #JohnnyCash singing ‘Hurt’ and that pretty much set the tone for what was to follow. The background score of the film is haunting, fiery and dark which heightens the viewing experience by several notches. Acclaimed English lensman John Mathieson who is a regular on #RidleyScott films (the Academy Award winning GLADIATOR included) does a swell job in LOGAN. As the film relies less on CGI and more on raw, foot stomping action in a desert no less, the challenge for Mathieson is to keep it as real as possible. And he does. The editor Michael McCusker has collaborated with director Mangold before and the understanding shows. At a little over two hours. LOGAN is a film that always moves at an even keel.

PERFORMANCES

Patrick Stewart as the aging (and ailing) Professor does what the role demands of him which is not much anyway. It is half English, half Spanish actress Dafne Keen who stumps you with her quiet yet disconcerting presence as Logan’s daughter. Be it the more emotional moments (which are few and far in between)or the action set pieces (which there is abundance of) she gets it all right. Heck she even has those claws that make Logan so dangerous.Here is to seeing more of this talented actress.

#HughJackman totally owns this film. Right from the very first scene where he gets beaten to pulp before coming back strong with those claws making bloody contact with bodily parts flying all over the place, this is a surreal performance. Here is a character that he has lived for the better part of two decades spanning over nine feature films. And Jackman gives LOGAN a terrific sendoff. Bitter and angry with a world that has no use for mutants anymore, you get to see the full force of his anger in LOGAN. There is no holding back here. And then there is the gentle,caring side which shines through in many scenes that he has with the character of Laura. These scenes thankfully do not seem contrived but are rather heartfelt and real. While you are at it, watch out for the artificial mutant X-24 who is a mirror image of Jackman. It is poetic justice that when the end comes Logan dies in the arms of the female clone who was created from his own blood.

In #LOGAN there are no-holds-barred. Be it the fearsome action sequences or the colourful language that Logan speaks nothing gets trimmed or glossed over. Mangold decides to put it all out there and in some style. For fans of Wolverine, LOGAN is just the release (pun intended) that they have waited long years for. The makers of LOGAN seems to have inspired by these lines by immortal lines by #DylanThomas.

‘Do not go gently into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day
Rage,rage against the dying of the light’

As we made our way out of the cinema halls, my first words to my friend were “Got any Beer?”

BADRINATH KI DULHANIA – The perfect commercial potboiler

Badrinath

I simply regards romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world – Mindy Kaling

INTRO

The genre of #Romcoms (read romantic comedy) is the one in which Bollywood films have matched up to Hollywood and one would even go to the extent of saying that this is one genre which Bollywood truly owns. That most commercial ventures in our Bollywood are devoid of logic is a big plus. Also years (or is it decades) of conditioning has meant that we have an audience that has become a master at
suspension of disbelief. And so far as you have all the ingredients in the right dose, the paying public will lap it all up,readily. Again and yet again! And who would know this better than the director Shashank Khaitan, a protege of ‘Showman of 1980s’ the Subhash the Ghai? (Khaitan is a passout from Whistling Woods) We saw evidence of this in his debut effort ‘HUMPTY SHARMA KI DULHANIA’ which was a sleeper hit. Can he do an encore with BADRINATH KI DULHANIA?

STORY

WARNING: SPOILERS GALORE

In the words of director Khaitan himself, the film is about ‘feminist’ Alia Bhatt falling in love with ‘chauvinist’ Varun Dhawan. So you have the straight talking, independent minded Vaidehi who aspires to become an air hostess (Did no one tell her that height might be an issue?) bumping into barely educated, full-of-himself uncouthish Badri at some lavish wedding (Where else?) Vaidehi instantly hates him. He stalks her all over town before she finally relents. And they fall in love. (Or is it Rise in Love as Ghai would say?) A few misunderstandings and misgivings later, both the lovebirds ride away (should that be fly off?) into the sunset. Finito.

TECHNICAL CREDITS

The music in #BADRINATHKIDULHANIA by Amaal Malik, Tanishk Bagchi and Akhil Sachdeva is one of the strong points of the film. Not so much in terms of longevity of the songs but they are hummable enough to fetch the film a good initial at the box office. Though the placement of the songs also leaves a lot to be desired. The remix version of ‘Tamma Tamma Loge’ is at best amusing. Film making is all about team work where the DOP & the editor are the two eyes of the director. Not surprising then that Khaitan sticks to the tried and tested Neha Parti Matiyani (cinematographer) and Manan Sagar (editor) from his debut venture. The length is a bit of a deterrent especially the second half that seems to go on for ever. The writing by the director Khaitan is not earth shattering stuff but it was not meant to be that anyway. The trouble is that apart from the two lead actors, almost all other characters seem incidental to the story.

PERFORMANCES

BADRINATH KI DULHANIA boasts of quite an impressive ensemble who are either parents, brothers/sisters and friends of the lead couple. Swanand Kirkire and Ritu Raj play the cliched patriarchs as best as they can. Gauhar Khan has a fine little cameo in the film which again makes one wonder. Here is a actress who looks like a million bucks, dances like a dream, has an arresting screen presence and most of all she can act really well. Where are the roles that she deserves? Aparashakti Khurana who brought the house down every time he appeared on screen in #DANGAL is impressive here as well. The real scene stealer here is actor Sahil Vaid as Badri’s best friend (who like in all other Hindi films seems to have no life of his own and exists merely to bring together Badri & Vaidehi) Another product of #WhistlingWoods he is someone whose future assignments one looks forward to.

Varun Dhawan plays Badri in his typical style which is channeling Salman Khan (the charm) and Govinda (the wise cracking) in turns. Trouble is, on both counts he is lacking. And clearly so. But lest we forget this is a romcom where anything goes. And Varun pulls it off all right. The star of the film is undoubtedly Alia Bhatt. Her command over her craft allows her to take what is essentially a half baked role and give it much needed gravitas. When Vaidehi says that love matters, but respect matters more you can feel the conviction in that dialogue. Boggles the mind that this girl is only 24.

Lastly and most importantly director Shashank Khaitan who with #BADRINATHKIDULHANIA seems to have another hit on his hands. That he has a penchant for comedy is but obvious and he has a good ear for music too. And he seems to have hit the right formula for now. Do not go in expecting too much and it will make for an easy watch. The film does have it’s moments and a third film seems inevitable thereby making it a DULHANIA trilogy. See what you have done, Mr Aditya Chopra!