How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

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Location: India

Sunday, August 07, 2005

'Paheli'

I stole time over the last two days to watch this latest directorial venture of Amol Palekar. Produced by Shah Rukh Khan's production house Red Chillies, this is an unusual film because it is based on a Rajasthani novel written by Rajasthani literary great Vijaydan Detha, and is a supernatural love story.

The story goes like this: Kishenlal (SRK) is the son of a wealthy Marwadi merchant (Anupam Kher). He marries Lachchhi (Rani Mukherji), and while the marriage party is heading back home, they stop for a rest. Here a ghost residing in the area sees Lachchhi and falls in love with her. Kishenlal is business-minded, like his father, and he leaves Lachchhi to go to Jamnagar for 5 years the very morning after they reach their village of Navalgarh. To the grieving Lachchhi, the ghost provides succour, which takes the bodily form of Kishen. The ghost tells Lachchhi about his real self, but doesn't tell anyone else, minting money (effortlessly :) ) to keep his father pleased. Love develops between Lachchhi and the ghost. After about three years (during which the real Kishen has had an anxious time thinking about why his family has not contacted him), things come to a head when he suddenly returns on hearing that his wife was going to have a child. The two SRKs meet and the village panchayat, unable to identify the real Kishen, are provided help by an unlikely person in the form of a shepherd (Amitabh in a guest appearance). Eventually, the real Kishen does get identified and the ghost is trapped in a leather water-pouch, but the ghost takes his place inside Kishen's body, to the great joy of Lachchhi.

The wealthy Marwadi merchant family is shown quite well, and to some humorous effect as well. Attention has been paid to the dialogues (which are in Rajasthani, but I'm not sure how perfectly) . The dialogues are delivered by everyone surprisingly well. As for the performances, after a long time I've watched an SRK movie without getting irritated by his antics. Although he looks a bit out of place in the setting with short silk choyni-s and fluorescent dhoti-s, his effort seems to be sincere. He delivers the dialogues well, although his facial expressions leave something to be desired. Rani Mukherji, too, doesn't fit naturally into the setting, but she makes up somewhat by her acting (nothing very great, but good enough). Juhi Chawla as Rani's jethani doesn't have a big role but she looks the part (and she looks very sweet through the movie too :) ). As for Palekar's direction, I think he should have dwelt more on the main theme of Lachchhi's desire for love and the 'culture clash' :) between her and her husband. His use of puppets revives the memory of old films like 'Kathputli' and 'Chori Chori' ('jahaan main jaati huun vahiin chale aate ho'). M. M. Kreem's music is good. There seemed to be only one folk-like number though, and the rest of the tunes could have belonged in any other film. Overall, a watchable film, although not Palekar's best (by far). Interestingly, I read that Mani Kaul made a film called 'Duvidha' in the '70s based on the same novel. Wonder if that's available anywhere...

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