Phillauri ** ½
Dir: Anshai Lal
Starring: Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Suraj Sharma, Mehreen Pirzada, Salima Raza
This tale of two romances set almost a century apart has Anushka Sharma (also a producer of the film) playing Shashi, a ghost who ends up haunting a groom-to-be, Kanan (Suraj Sharma). Kanan is getting cold feet much to the chagrin of his lovely fiancée (Mehreen Pirzada) and confusion is worse confounded with the arrival of Shashi. The mystery of what is binding Shashi to this earthly plane is slowly revealed as we learn of Shashi’s romance with the local village folk singer and philanderer (Diljit Dosanjh) at the beginning of the last century.
There was some potential here for some high-spirited comedy but the humour falls mostly flat and feels forced (though Salima Raza elicits some laughs as the good-natured but perpetually sozzled Beeji) while the romances also never take off. And for a movie where music is an integral part of the story the songs aren’t particularly memorable either. Tighter pacing would have helped too (the movie is two and a quarter hours long). It wouldn’t be quite fair to give the movie two stars as it isn’t quite that bad – and the performances are fairly decent – so I’ll be generous and award it an extra half star
Cut to chase: A rom-com where both the romance and the comedy fall a bit short.
The Salesman ****
Dir: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Taraneh Alidoosti, Shahab Hosseini, Babak Karimi, Mina Sadati, Farid Sajjadi Hosseini
Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning tale of marital strife but really an exploration of the ephemeral nature of truth as well as an exploration of class, status, gender and religion, A Separation is one of my all-time favourite movies. Farhadi’s The Salesman – also winning this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film – isn’t quite at the level of A Separation but is a masterpiece of control and understated suspense and packs a mighty wallop.
The movie begins with an apartment building in Tehran threatening to collapse, the fissures on the walls foreshadowing the cracks that will appear later that may shatter the foundations of a marriage. Emad (Shahab Hosseini), a teacher, and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), a housewife are forced to relocate to another apartment whose previous occupant has left behind her belongings as well as some secrets. As the secrets reveal themselves the pair has to face an unexpected and shocking act of violence and the couple has to figure out how to deal with its fallout. In particular, Emad finds himself walking down a dark corridor of vengeance with subtle but terrible consequences.
The title of the movie comes from a Farsi adaptation of Arthur Miller’s play, “Death Of A Salesman” in which both Emad and Rana (both stage actors as well) star in – the play-within-a-movie inviting parallels which become more overt near the climactic scenes. In Farsi with English subtitles.
Cut to chase: A searing, noir-ish exploration of the fissures that lie beneath supposedly placid relationships.
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Rating system: *Not on your life ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection