Phillauri – A ghost bride in waiting

‘I see dead people’ is one of the cheesiest lines written by Hollywood writers for M.Night.Shyamalan’s 1998 movie – The Sixth sense. Do ghosts really exist? I won’t go further deep in theory about supernatural elements. Here Shashi Phillauri has decided to become my ghostly muse to free me from my writer’s block. She wanted to see her story featured in my upcoming article. Here I am now writing my exclusive article on Phillauri. After all, I can’t mess with a ghost, especially when the ghost is a hardcore Punjabi Kudi. Here you go baby!!

Kanan, a Canada based Punjabi Munda (played by Suraj Sharma the boy from Life of Pi) returns to his hometown to get hitched to his longtime girlfriend Anu. It is a fairy tale wedding going to happen for the couple. But Kanan can’t marry his sweet heart as he is ‘Manglik’ (according to horoscope a Manglik’s marriage is never prosperous). The only remedy for this astrological hurdle is to get the groom married to a tree. After much insistence, Kanan performs the ritual of getting married to a tree. The real trouble begins for Kanan when he realizes that unknowingly he is married off to a ghost who had made the tree her abode. The ghostly encounter of Kanan with the apparition makes him go crazy.

According to rituals, the tree is chopped off once the Manglik’s marriage is done with the tree. Since the tree is chopped off, the ghost loses her abode and now chases Kanan. The bride ghost ‘Shashi’ starts narrating her story to Kanan and the story moves to pre-independent era in 1919. The movie swings between two timelines – 1919 and 2017. Shashi, a lovely poet from a village called ‘Phillaur’ in Punjab publishes her poem under a pen name which is famous among the readers. (Shashi is Jane Austen of Punjab in this movie) 

Coincidentally, Rooplal a street singer with a heart of Casanova sings the lyrics and poems penned by Shashi little realizing that she is the same girl he has fallen in love with. When he discovers her identity, he promises to return back on Baisakhi festival when he has enough money to get married to her. But destiny has different plans for Shashi. Rooplal never returns. In a fit of depression, Shashi commits suicide by hanging from a tree. Her untimely death turns her into a ghostly bride in waiting (This bride has nothing to do with Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride). Now Shashi can’t get freed from the mortal world. Her quest for long lost love is unfulfilled. Will Shashi find her long lost love? Will Kanan help Shashi to find her long lost love? All these queries will be answered in the 2017 movie – Phillauri. Shashi had strictly ordered me to not write any spoilers about her story.

What fascinated me to watch ‘Phillauri’ was Anushka Sharma. Secondly the premise of story is set in Punjab. My fondness for Punjabi culture, food and beautiful gals was second reason why I wanted to watch it. In terms of storytelling, ‘Phillauri’ is a refreshing change from stereotyped Bollywood rom-coms. The story takes time to grow. It is a novel plot brought on screen. For those who love masala rom-coms won’t sit through the movie. The movie has a poetic feel and is slow paced. The slow-paced narration is the beauty of this story and here the viewer bonds with the tender love story of Shashi and Rooplal.

The look and feel of this movie is timeless. The visual presentation of the 1919 Punjab is breath taking. If you love your roots, you will connect with the story line. The story of this movie is connected with an actual historical incident happened in 1919 on eve of Baisakhi. The infamous incident changes the lives of both Shashi and Rooplal. After so much warning given by my ghostly muse Shashi, I am giving spoilers for this story. (She will literally kill me after reading this review). ‘Phillauri’ has drawn inspirations from several movies (Lovely Bones, If I stay, Invisible, Corpse Bride etc and even a Ruskin Bond short story). Actress Anushka Sharma has donned the hat of producer for her second production venture and hasn’t left any stone unturned to make Phillauri a delightful watch. Apart from Anushka Sharma, Suraj Sharma and Diljit Singh Dosanjh make their presence felt in their sincere performances. After Udta Punjab, Diljit is the new emerging talent in Bollywood. What attracted me in this movie was Mehreen Pirzada, the new fresh talent who shines in her first movie. She plays Anu, the love interest of Suraj Sharma.

Phillauri is a delightful and visually appealing rom-com that is winning the hearts of audience worldwide. This movie is far more entertaining than Paheli and Bhootnath.

If you love watching entertaining ghost movies, then watch the 1992 movie – Chamatkar and 1995 Hollywood movie – Casper. Apart from this recommendations, do watch Demi Moore’s movie – The Ghost which was a cult movie in 90’s.

I want to sincerely thank my ghostly muse Shashi for becoming my inspiration and guide to pen down this story. Inspiration comes in all forms even if it is ghostly. For now, I am freed from my writer’s block. I guess it is time for Shashi to return back to heaven. Hope I have justified her story and I strongly request her to share this review among her ghostly circles. I guess Mark Zuckerberg must have developed a social networking site for ghosts. No wonder it may be called ‘GhostBook’.

Do watch ‘Phillauri’ at theatres near you. You will fall in love with Shashi, the lovely ghost.


Mirza-Sahiba : Rebels of love

Very less is known, written and narrated about the estranged lovers from Punjab. A story lost in dusty pages of history is on brink of getting engulfed in anonymity. Historians, poets, folk musicians have praised the love stories of Laila-Majnu, Heer-Ranjha, Sohni-Mahiwal through their stories, poems and ballads. So why is the love legend of Mirza & Sahiba been sidelined? Historians have blamed Sahiba for her folly who couldn’t balance her emotions between her family and her doomed lover Mirza.

A beautiful painting depicting love of Mirza and Sahiba
A beautiful painting depicting love of Mirza and Sahiba

Mirza Khan was an exceptional archer of his times who could equal even Arjuna & Eklavya. His arrows would shoot like missiles on his opponents. Such was the greatness of his valor. Galloping on his horse, this brave warrior had attracted the attention of several beauties in his tribe. Sahiba was no less than a nymph, a beauty who won the attention of several admirers. According to legends, Mirza and Sahiba were far off cousins and connected to blood relation. As per the Indian tradition, this relationship would never be accepted. Especially the brothers of Sahiba never approved of relationship of Mirza with Sahiba. Mirza had affection of Sahiba since his childhood days and this affection blossomed into a passionate love.

When Mirza discovered that Sahiba was forced to get married to another person, he sneaked in Sahiba’s house and took her away without leaving any clue of his whereabouts. Sahiba was happy to elope with Mirza. But this happiness was short-lived. Burning with fury, the brothers of Sahiba chased for Mirza.

The twist in this tragic story came when Sahiba broke away the arrows of Mirza because she knew that none of her brothers would be spared by the weapon of Mirza. It was her dilemma that led her to take this drastic decision. On one side she was concerned about her family while on other side, she also was concerned about Mirza. It was this indecision that claimed the life of Mirza. Mirza was traced by Sahiba’s brothers and killed by them miserably. Realizing that his arrows were broken, Mirza knew he was outnumbered. Even in this odd hour, he gave a tough time to his opponents with his bare hands but was no match to them. He was killed by the arrows of Sahiba’s brothers.

Legends say that Sahiba couldn’t bear this scene and she too died heartbroken besides her beloved Mirza. Some stories also say that Sahiba was killed by her brothers. According to legends, it is been said that Mirza and Sahiba got physically intimate during their journey of escape. Their intimacy was the reason why historians looked down towards Mirza and Sahiba as disgraced lovers. According to my thoughts, Mirza and Sahiba were one soul in two bodies. History was partial towards their love. Had Sahiba kept the arrows safe, Mirza wouldn’t have died defenseless.

The grave of Mirza and Sahiba at Danabad is isolated. Very few people go to the site to pay respects to these star crossed lovers. The legend of Mirza and Sahiba transformed into a major motion picture – Mirzya featuring Harshavardhan Kapoor and Sayami Kher as the doomed couple. The movie switches between two timelines – the actual story of Mirza & Sahiba as well as the modern day lovers – Adil Mirza (a stable boy) and Suchitra, an aristocratic girl. Will these lovers meet the same fate as Mirza & Sahiba forms the crux of the story

The 2016 movie - Mirzya is based on tragic love story of Mirza & Sahiba
The 2016 movie – Mirzya is based on tragic love story of Mirza & Sahiba

I highly appreciate director Rakesh Mehra for picking up this forgotten story of Mirza-Sahiba. History is witness that lovers like Mirza and Sahiba have always fallen victim to hate in name of honor killings. Everyone knows of Romeo & Juliet but has hardly heard of Mirza and Sahiba. I hope that after reading this heart breaking story of these lovers, people will definitely visit the grave of ill-fated lovers – Mirza and Sahiba.