Phillauri, produced under the banner of Fox Star Studios and Clean Slate Films, stars Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh and Suraj Sharma in the lead roles. The film happens to be the directorial debut of Anshai Lal who has previously served as Assistant Director on big projects like Chak de! India (2007) and Housefull (2010).
Ever since the trailer of Phillauri came out anticipation surrounding the release of the film has been quite strong. Alas, Phillauri fails to live up to its pre-release hype!
In this article, we will look at the various flaws and weaknesses that hamper Phillauri.
Phillauri marks the directorial debut of Anshai Lal. But, Anshal is not a novice by any means having assisted on various projects including the ones mentioned earlier. In Phillauri he never really seems to be in control of things. While the film does have some memorable moments but they have to be attributed to the writer and the actors. At the end of the day, it is the director who is supposed to have the ultimate control of the film. In Phillauri either Lal didn't have that luxury or perhaps he failed to exercise his creative control.
With a run time of 140 minutes, Phillauri is asking for trouble. Poor pacing at crucial junctures makes the things worse for Phillauri. Today's audience tends to get impatient very quickly when they see a film that's poorly paced and that's precisely where Phillauri lacks. Of course, the screenplay, direction and editing are to be blamed for it.
We just talked about poor pacing. The right tempo can be set not just through brilliant screenwriting but also on the editing table. But it appears that the editor was half asleep. Or maybe it's a result of self-indulgence on the part of the director. Phillauri could have benefited greatly had about 20 minutes of footage been done away with. Also, the packaging of scenes could have been better. But, in its present shape it lacks the charm to keep the viewers engaged till the very end.
Nothing really happens for a very periods in the movie. Yes, the screenplay does try to keep things engaging, but the viewer is left high and dry in desperate wait for the final revelation. There is no denying that the plot has a lot of interesting elements but perhaps they are not tied properly. In modern narratives the aim is to keep the audience hooked throughout and that's precisely where Phillauri falters.
While the acting performances of Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh are superb, it is Suraj Sharma who fails to impress. One certainly expects better from an actor who has been associated with a major international project like Life of Pi. In Phillauri, he looks a bit stiff and for some reason fails to express himself freely. Again a part of the problem lies with the director's inability to bring his actor to the desired comfort level.
Phillauri's plot is replete with clichés. There is little that we haven't already watched. Yes, it is essentially a ghost story but even that bit is not original. Mani Kaul's Duvidha and its star-studded remake, Amol Palekar's Paheli, have tackled the subject with far greater flair and conviction. While it would be a bit harsh to question its intentions, one can't help but criticize the blatant manner in which Phillauri chooses to ride on clichés.
One a whole Phillauri comes across as a film that wanders aimlessly for the most part. At important points in the narrative, it seems to be lacking any concrete purpose. The revelation at the end salvages it to a great extent but it fails to give it the punch that a movie like this badly requires. Phillauri is certainly not a bad movie but it certainly suffers from poor execution. It can best be described as a mixed opportunity.