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.

Highly acclaimed gangster movies of Bollywood

In India, youngsters are crazy about three things – cricket, movies and crime. Though profession of movie and cricket is about luck, sportsmanship and glamour, crime is more than that. It takes brains, brawns, luck, money and guts to rule the world. Be it Hollywood or Bollywood, movie industry has glorified crime, gangsters, smugglers, bootleggers, bandits as robin hood, messiah and savior of the poor and a ruthless vendetta who sets his own rules. From Don Vito Corleone, Tony Montana to Manya Surve, Maya Dolas, Sultan Mirza and Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, audiences has seen various faces of crime lords. There is an old saying that ‘Behind every great fortune there is a crime’. Let’s catch a glimpse at the best gangster movies that were inspired by legends of real crime lords and mafias.

1] Once upon a time in Mumbai –

Once upon a time in Mumbai highlighted the 70's crime

Once upon a time in Mumbai highlighted the 70’s crime

This gangster movie is my favourite pick as the role of Sultan Mirza played by Ajay Devgan always sent goosebumps. Inspired by a yesteryears gangster who worked in docks to later emerge as the leading icon in crime world, this crime movie focuses on the rise and fall of Sultan Mirza. Labelled as criminal in the police records but hailed as Robinhood by the poor and needy, Sultan Mirza’s name is on the lips of every citizen. Sultan’s fall begins when he takes a protégé named ‘Shoaib’ under his wings and assigns him as the caretaker of his crime business. Here Sultan’s ideals clashes with Shoaib’s recklessness and what happens later is the fall of an aging don and rise of a reckless crime prince. Both the protagonists are inspired by real gangsters. Ajay Devgan scores high as the 70’s don who once the city feared. The climax of the movie is the turning point in the story where a single bullet brings end to the rule of Sultan who was once feared and loved by the masses.

2] Daagdi Chawl –

dagdi_chawl_poster

Those who live in Byculla, ‘Daagdi Chawl’ is not just a residential area, but a den of a most feared crime lord. The 2015 Marathi motion picture is about scuffle between an ordinary man and the crime lord of ‘Daagdi Chawl’. A small scuffle with local goons pulls an ordinary mechanic in world of crime and how he crosses path with the enigma called ‘Daddy’ is worth seeing. There is a new movie slated for release in 2017 which will trace the journey of the gangster right from his early days as a goon to his rise as a politician. The movie is titled as ‘Daddy’ and the titular role is played by actor Arjun Rampal who has worked on his physique, mannerisms to get into the skin of the role.

3) Raees –

Shahrukh stole the hearts of audience in the role of Raees Alam

Shahrukh stole the hearts of audience in the role of Raees Alam

Loosely inspired by a life of an infamous bootlegger in Gujarat, ‘Raees’ is a gangster movie which features actor Shahrukh Khan as the dreaded bootlegger who clashes with the law through his illegal liquor business. Shahrukh’s role in Raees was larger than life, similar in lines of Godfather played by Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. A thorn in the flesh of law, Raees Alam is locked in a deadly battle with manipulating politicians, rival gangsters and cops. By coincidence, the story of this movie was bit similar to Net Flix TV series – Narcos which was based on real narcotic mafia – Pablo Escobar who was shot down by Colombian Police in 1993.

4) Agneepath –

agneepath

Rumoured to be based on life of a dreaded gangster – Manya Surve, Agneepath is regarded as a cult movie in history of Indian cinema. The role of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan not only fetched Amitabh Bachchan a national award, but also took his career to great heights. Though it regarded as an underrated crime movie, nevertheless it is a thrilling story about a village boy who rises to become a gangster to avenge the death of his father. Some of the scenes from the movie are inspired by Brian De Palma’s movie – Scarface. How Vijay settles score with his arch rival Kaancha Cheena (played superbly by Danny Dengzopa) is best to be seen on the silver screen.

Vijay Chauhan became an iconic character in Indian cinema and the role was again played by Hrithik Roshan in the 2012 remake. The role of Mithun as the south Indian coconut seller added a comic touch to the otherwise intense movie.

5) Satya –

satyaa

The 1998 motion picture based on clash between mafia and Mumbai police changed the definition of crime thrillers in Indian cinema. Wrongly accused in prostitution case, an innocent young man ‘Satya’ befriends a local gangster ‘Bhiku Mhatre’ (played to perfection by Manoj Vajpayee) and soon they become a crime team against the law and rival gangsters. Calm minded Satya engineers plans to take down on all the rivals and law and becomes the most wanted public enemy of Mumbai. Among all the characters, Bhiku Mhatre steals the show with his one liners and the sweet presence of Urmila Matondkar gives an emotional touch to this dark crime drama. This is one of the best directorial works of Ramu. Ramu came up with new crime movie – Company featuring Ajay Devgan and Vivek Oberoi. Though Company was a brilliant gangster flick, it was nowhere closer to Satya.

6) Shootout at Wadala –

Shootout at Wadala was based on the first police encounter in 80's

Shootout at Wadala was based on the first police encounter in 80’s

Based on the first encounter registered in the file of Mumbai Police, Shootout at Wadala is story of 1980’s feared criminal – Manya Surve who became the first local goon to be shot down by Mumbai Cops in 1982. Wrongly framed guilty in a murder case, the honest Manohar Surve turns into a brutal gangster ‘Manya’ who dares to shake the empire of most dreaded kingpin of Mumbai. Similar to the plot of Hollywood movie – Public Enemies, Shootout at Wadala sees the rise and fall of Manya Surve. The 1990 movie ‘Agneepath’ is rumoured to be based on Manya Surve. Shootout at Lokhandwala was the first movie in ‘Shoot out series’ which was based on the dreaded gangster ‘Maya’ who was shot down by Mumbai Police in Swati building at Lokhandwala.

6) Parinda – Earlier titled as ‘Kabootarkhana’ Parinda changed the definition of movie making in history of Indian cinema with its gripping story line and changed the conventions of Bollywood drama with the disturbing climax where the lead protagonist is gunned down miserably by the antagonist. The 70’s and 80’s movie used to be formulaic based on pick pockets, robbery, love triangle and all the masala entertaining stuff the audiences loved to watch. Sadly, the directors of that era were never innovative in their approach.
The dynamics of storytelling changed with Parinda. After witnessing the gruesome murder of his friend, an honest man decides to take down on a crime empire to such an extent that he himself gets sucked in the world of crime. Parinda is said to be based on life of a real life gangster who was unknowingly dragged in world of crime. Parinda is counted as a milestone in history of Indian cinema and took director Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s career to great heights.

7) Rakhtcharitra – Based on life of Andhra’s famous personality – Paritala Ravi, Rakhtcharitra is a vengeance drama full of gruesome violent scenes. A dangerous game of politics and crime happens in this vengeance saga where the family of an ordinary man is wiped down by his enemies. How the ordinary man starts a vendetta of hatred against his enemies and rises as a politician is best to be seen in the movie – Rakhtcharitra directed by Ram Gopal Verma. The story is split in two parts. The sequel is continuation of the vengeance drama where Pratap Ravi the lead protagonist comes face to face with his most sworn enemy.

8) Dharmatma – Actor Feroz Khan’s ambitious directorial venture – Dharmatma was a rip off of Hollywood’s magnum opus gangster flick – The Godfather. Loosely inspired by life of a ‘Matka King’, Dharmatma is saga of an ageing gangster and his refusal to alliance with narcotic dealers costs his life. Feroz Khan stepped in the shoes of Al Pacino while Hema Malini played role of Afghan girl who gets accidentally killed in a bomb blast. All the sequences in this movie were heavily inspired by Godfather. This movie was a huge hit and later several filmmakers made unofficial remakes of Godfather which included Aatank hi aatank, Zulm ki Hukumat and Sarkar.

9) Sarkar – Rumoured to be based on life of a great political supremo, Sarkar is a dark, menacing movie which focuses on ups and downs in life of an ageing patriarch Subhash Nagre and his son Shankar Nagre. Shankar Nagre takes the reins of family business in his hand when Subhash Nagre is falsely accused in a political conspiracy and is mortally wounded by a hitman of one of his enemies. What follows is Shankar’s pursuit for vengeance against the enemies of Nagre family. Similar in lines of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Sarkar is one of the best works of Ram Gopal Verma. He later made the sequel ‘Sarkar Raj’ in 2008 where Shankar Nagre becomes a pawn in hands of cunning politicians. Sarkar 3 will be the continuation in the trilogy and is set for a 2017 release.

Apart from Dharmatma, Sarkar, Shootout movie Series, there are countless gangster movies based on life of real kingpins and smugglers. In 2017, Arjun Rampal will be seen as a local gangster in movie ‘Daddy’ while Shraddha Kapoor will portray the role of a mafia queen in new crime biopic – Haseena. No wonder, movies have always glorified crime and gangsters and continue to entertain viewers who have affinity for such crime stories.

Chak De India!! – A quest for victory

‘Chak de India’ epitomizes sportsmanship, will, courage, hardwork and guts to beat out the opponents. Not just an energetic yell to pep up fallen spirits, but also to prove that you are the best than others. The dream that Hockey player Dhyanchand had cherished for hockey is on brink of extinction. Despite having so many talented sportsmen in India, the sports association is blind eyed to the aspiring youngsters who desire to represent India in Olympics. The 2007 motion picture – Chak de India centers on hockey and the malicious politics happening in Indian hockey federation.

The movie is not just about hockey, it is about sportsmanship. Regardless of which sports you play, you play it with discipline, heart and conviction. A disgraced hockey coach Kabir Khan (played brilliantly by Shahrukh Khan) makes a comeback from a long hiatus to coach a woman hockey team for Olympics. As he handpicks a team of young girls from different states, he realizes that it is important to bind them together to represent India for Olympics. The more he tries to arouse sportsmanship spirit in girls, more they refuse to come together due to their egos. To add more odds to the story, the girls in team are not even skillful enough to compete with junior hockey players. The coach becomes harsh on his team to arouse a spirit in them to play but only to get sacked by the team he had selected. Movie comes on a turning point when Kabir Khan resigns from the post and takes his team for a farewell lunch. Here he witnesses the unity of girls when they confront a bunch of goons who are trying to harass them. The girls not only fight, but also show their united spirit. How he brings them together to win Olympic medal for hockey and retains his honor forms the crux of the story.

There were sports movies on football, cricket, boxing but not a single movie on hockey. Director Shimit Amin and writer Jaideep Sahni came together to create a new epic movie in genre of sports. It was first time that Yashraj films has touched a new topic – hockey. Hollywood has successful sports movies in its portfolio but there are very less movies on sports in Bollywood.

Chak de India is a refreshing foray in sports genre and exposes the dirty politics happening in sports federation and how a passionate hockey coach thwarts the criticism and brings hockey back in spotlight. Shahrukh as the sober coach brought more realism to his role and made the story believable. It is his best performance that took his acting career to great heights. Especially the sattar minute dialogue in the movie is highly inspiring. When we see a sports movie, a coach and an underdog team is always the regular premise, but in Chak de India, the story is about the aspiring girls who are always treated inferior and considered underrated by the society and family too. How the girls give a tough time to men’s hockey team and bag the Olympic medal by defeating various countries is best to seen on the silver screen. Chak de India is not just about hockey, it is about making your dreams true no matter what the cost. When I feel a need to get motivated, I definitely listen to the title track of this movie which simply infuses a new energy to start off my goal on a positive note. I relate a lot to the character Kabir Khan played by Shahrukh khan because whenever people tried to write me off I have made an attempt to make a comeback with a vengeance.

I have also fallen, stood up and stumbled again to make my mark. Life is all about falling, stumbling and rising again with a new determination. No matter how worse the criticism may be, just utter ‘Chak de’ and head on.

I hope someday that a biopic will be made on renowned hockey player – Dhyanchand who took hockey game to great heights with his sportsmanship. Even Hitler was impressed with his sportsmanship that he had offered him a job in his army. Such was the dynamism of Dhyanchand. I was little upset to know that a biopic on M.S.Dhoni has already hit the screens while not a single director has come up to make a biopic on Dhyanchand. The motivational cry ‘Chak de’ is all about hitting back even after you are fallen.

If you liked Chak De India, do watch Lagaan, Rocky, Remember the titans, Goal, Gridiron gang, Invisible.

Chak de !!