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MouthShut Score

66%
3.34 

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Great Indian Movies - Paheli
Sep 30, 2005 10:59 PM 3517 Views
(Updated May 02, 2006 10:04 AM)

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When we were young kids, one of most fascinating things we loved are magical stories like Panchtantra, Chandamama, Vikram-Vetal, fables, and fairytales. Along with these there were unique folklores existed in each tribes, communities, or culture. These stories were not only captivated us but also gave us chance to venture into imaginary world we will never see in reality. Those fascinating stories will stay with us forever and forever until we die.


Amol Palekar’s Paheli is one of those fascinating fairytales. It is simple film based on the legendary rajasthani folklore ''Duvidha'' written by Vijaydan Detha. Paheli is original, luscious, magical, and visual fantasy. It has mysterious supernatural feeling.


Story


Paheli is magical love story of money-minded husband, his neglected wife and passionate ghost. Paheli is a beautiful riddle that provides its own answer.


Once upon a time, there was a lovely girl Lachchi (Rani Mukherji) married to a Kishan lal (Shahrukh Khan), who is interested only in making money. There was a ghost (Shahrukh Khan) who fell madly in love with her. On the wedding night itself, the husband left home for five long years on account of his business. The ghost took on the husband’s appearance and entered into her life. A few years later, when the husband returned home, the villagers and relatives were bewildered. Lachchi is torn over whom to choose: the living or the dead? How this situation gets resolved is the ''Paheli''.


Analysis


Let me answer basic question - Does imaginary story like Paheli works in 21st century? My answer is YES and it will continue to work in any era. One of the reasons Paheli works and works big way because of its long forgotten folklore setting. It is magical and shouldn’t be logical. If Paheli doesn't work then none of our childhood stories like Panchtantra works. If Paheli doesn’t work then none of Disney animated tales like Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Cinderella, or Lion King works. If Paheli doesn’t work then none of fantasy movies like Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings trilogy works.


When I saw first time Paheli in theater, I was disappointed and it’s not because of it wasn't met my expectation but it raised my imagination bar beyond my expectation. I wanted more of Rajasthan, more of rustic external views of village, more of magic in camel race, and more of pranks and heroism of Ghost. In short, Amol Palekar opened up window of thought process in my mind, which rarely happens in cinema.


One of the reason we cherish folklores are because of their unadulterated messages. It talks about moral issues with the subtle simplest tale. Paheli talks about moral issues without even getting serious. It talks about women’s right for choice and husbands responsibilities for his newly wed wife. Can married woman have right to decide about her own feelings over husband? For Lachchi, marriage was a dream and wedding night was a once in a lifetime experience but for the workaholic husband it was just another night. When Ghost takes place of her husband, she has to make choice of staying without husband for five years or stay with the ghost who is neither her husband nor a human. At last, she goes for her inner instinct and decides not to waste prime time of her life. This was very bold step when you think about our own rural society. At last, she was not only fulfilled with physical love but also showered with passionate pure love, which turned out to be good decision. She receives everything from this new relationship that she ever desired.


Paheli is a simple film revolved around simple characters with well-crafted convincing screenplay and mind-blowing performances. From the very first scene, it sweeps you into its sublime world of Lachchi. This movie belongs to Rani Mukharji because of its screenplay constructed through Lachchi's perspective. Rani played amazing stability playing character of neglected wife who has dilemma to choose between the ghost’s eternal love and husband’s insensitive ignorance. Sharkukh Khan is revelation in this new avtaar. We are so used to his billionaire lover boy or sophisticated adult image in chopras and johars that it took me some time to get used it. He is acceptable as dull husband but flawless as lovable prankster Ghost. After watching him in Paheli, one can feel he should experiment with versatile roles more often. As far as my point of view, this is SRK’s most impressive performance to date, if not best. Also, Rani and Shahrukh’s onscreen romantic chemistry makes this movie more enjoyable. Look out for Amitabh Bachchan as sensational shepherd cameo who solves Paheli and Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah's voices for puppets as narrators.


I would like to salute Amol Palekar to look beyond our masala films and ventured into folk traditions. Amol's use of light, color, sound, ambience, costume, gold currencies, special effects, and dialogues in rajasthani dialect makes this magical journey authentic and unforgettable. I was very much impressed by Ravi K. Chandran’s rich, rustic, and vibrant cinematography of this folksy fantasy especially striking beauty of step well, colorful clothes and Havelis, rusty villages, rajasthani desert sand dune vistas. I rate special effects in this movie is best we ever seen in Indian cinema. Both Ghost transformations from crow to squirrel to parrot to villager and adorable dance of rose petals on snap of ghost’s magic finger are artistically blended in actual scenes.


There are some scenes exceed my expectation like ghost’s transformation, Ghosts interaction with Lachchi and Kishan in step well, Ghosts revelation of his identity first time to Lachchi, and Ghost’s demonstration of his love to Lachchi with rose petals.


On the other side, there are some scenes could have been much better or could have been more developed - camel race, finding ideal place for step well and building step well. I personally think Rajpal Yadav's comic sequence was underdeveloped. He was link between husband and his hometown and it had real chance to become never forgotten comic sequences, if it had been developed more.


My favorite and one of the most fascinating sequences are last 15 minutes of the movie - AB's entry as eccentric shepherd, the way he solves the riddle of double husbands, and subsequent sequence of Rani and Shahrukh's acceptance of each other. This makes whole movie going experience totally fulfilled.


Paheli contains mix bag of songs. M.M.Kreem’s south Indian music flavor totally contradicts rajasthani backdrop of the movie. It contains either partly suitable melodious songs like Dheere Jalna, Kangna Re, Minnat Kare or loud songs like Phir Raat Kati, Lagaa Re Jal Lagaa or unnecessary slow sad song Khaali Hai Tere Bina. Even though most of these songs are well choreographed, are ill placed especially in first half. If Amol had reduced number of songs and kept only Dheere Jalna, Kangna Re, and Minnat Kare then it would have been dream project.


Conclusion


Paheli is visual masterpiece, which will transport you into its colorful, magical, and bewitching world. Paheli is genre of fantasy, which never attempted before and one of finest film produced ever in Indian cinema. If you want to time travel back to your childhood and venture into innocent world then it is must see. It’s a modern classic and will be cherished forever by future generation.


Note: Story is taken from EROS DVD text.


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