Monday, June 27, 2005

Why I loved Paheli....

Paheli is a poem about passion, pain and longing.
Paheli is a painting where every pixel on the canvas is filled with resplendent colours.
Paheli is as much about thoughts as it is about words and deeds.
Paheli is art at its best.

Before I get on with it, a big round of appluase is due to....the producer Shah Rukh Khan for believing in the story with all his heart and putting his money to back his heart

But yeah, I really wish....SRK the superstar had not interfered in the decision to finally convince SRK the producer to cast SRK the actor in the pivotal role of the husband and ghost. Not that the King Khan is really bad in his portrayal but well, the role could have been performed equally well by a lesser known name and thereby not deflected attention from the central character of the female protagonist. However, I think there is a reasonably good case for giving SRK the producer the benefit of doubt for I am sure he cast SRK the superstar with all honest intentions since none can deny that his very presence is bound to pull in more crowds and that is something that a good movie like Paheli deserves for it forebodes a very promising future for genuinely hatke ventures like this. Besides, there is also the small matter of recovering the Rs 20 odd crores invested, you see.

Based on Vijaydan Detha's classic novel Duvidha, Paheli is the story of Lachchi, a woman abandoned (in the pursuit of business) by her husband Kishen on her wedding night with the union yet to be consummated. Unknown to anyone, a ghost falls in love with Lachchi and fills the vacuum in her heart (and life) by taking on Kishen's form whilst duping the world by passing off as her husband all the time hoping and dreading the day when Kishen will return home after his trip. Life however does not spare this surreal couple of the problems of reality and fate intervenes to set up a showdown between the ghost and the husband with both of them laying claim to Lachchi and her love.

While Paheli can easily be slotted into the so-convenient genre of fantasy films, the real reason why it works is because it is an immensely engaging emotional saga of a woman and the choices she faces in life: of becoming a subservient daughter-in-law waiting for her turn for happiness or a passionate woman embracing love even if its from unacceptable sources. Scenes depicting the angst of unrequitted love, the volanic outburst of pent up emotions upon discovering a solace and the small pleasures of everyday life are so wonderfully depicted that you cannot but sing enough praises of the screenplay and narrative.

Playing the playful ghost, SRK is absolutely in his elements except for the odd moment when his 'Rahul act' raises its ugly hood but its in the dull husband role of Kishen that SRK falters by hamming excessively. Anupam Kher as the money minded father of Kishen adds yet another feather to his well adorned cap whilst Dilip Prabhavalkar as the drunk uncle of Kishen and Rajpal Yadav as the village messenger offer comic relief. Lending admirable support to all these actors are two wonderfully etched cameos by Amitabh Bachchan playing an eccentric shepherd who is finally called to solve the Paheli (riddle) and Juhi Chawla who plays the other daughter-in-law with such consummate ease and dignity that you forget that she is actually a star. If I have one complaint about the charctersiations in Paheli, then it is the fact that Juhi's charcater could have had much more impact if only it had been fleshed out a little more but then its a 13 reel movie and I must admit that I am being a little finicky. Yeah, I have reserved the best for the last. Rani Mukherjee delivers what is for me the performance of a lifetime, one that is subtler and therefore more difficult than her role in Black and one that is sure to fecth her all possible awards and accolades.

Ravi K Chandran..What does one say about his role in the movie...When rediff mentioned that 'Paheli is the best-looking Indian film in a very long time', I was half scared that every frame would look like a picture post card and realism would take a beating. Suffice to say that Ravi's camerawork is mindblowing, be it capturing the scenic beauty of Rajasthan or the colorful gagra cholis, without being excessively opulent on the eye a la Devdas and credit must also be given in part to Muneesh Sappal's art direction. Music by MM Kreem is one of the real high points of the movie and I could write pages just on Gulzar's Dheere Jalna. Finally, the real hero of the movie is the director Amol Palekar for having the guts to dream of recreating the magic of the book on celluloid and actually succeeding in it. After directing art house classics like Kairee and Anaahat, Amol sucessfully transcends into the commercial realm and does a brilliant job of treating the uncoventional and bold theme with liberal doses of cinematic entertainment. Kudos !

Final verdict: Must see - Go watch it in a movie hall.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Saw it and liked it too. Very touching movie, remember the scene where Rani says nobodys asked me to choose before.

Man with no Name said...

not even in a thiruttu VCD.. no way am I gonna understand pazhankalathu hindi.. blame it on JJ for not making hindi a compulsary subject