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The Real Paheli
Aug 15, 2005 08:35 AM 1278 Views
(Updated Aug 15, 2005 08:35 AM)





Why is it that every time Shahrukh Khan decides to do something different,it blows up in his face?That is the real Paheli.Okay,okay you must have guessed by now,I am a die hard SRK fan.I confess!But it is true.Asoka is a testimony to that fact(can’t think of any other at the moment!)

Paheli is based on a Hindi novel Duvidha.I think its already been made into a movie by Mani Kaul,right?Well haven’t watched that one but I did watch Amol Palekar’s creation.And wasn’t elated but not exactly down in the dumps either.

The film(or rather,the novel) set in Rajasthan, is mainly about Lachchi(Rani Mukherjee),a pretty village girl who gets married to Kishenlal(Shahrukh),a trader belonging to a very rich household.The new bride is journeying to her in-laws when at a resting place,she is seen by a spirit.It becomes enamored of her beauty and falls head over heels in love with her.Unfortunately there is nothing it can do as she is obviously not single.But fate intervenes and a golden opportunity becomes available to the spirit.Kishenlal has to leave his wife the morning after his uneventful wedding night for a period of five years to go far far away because of business matters.The desolate bride is left alone with her tears and her misery.The spirit takes advantage of Kishenlal’s absence to make a foray into his home and Lachchi’s life.Through the witchcraft at his disposal he assumes the form of Lachchi’s husband and everyone is fooled by the illusion.However being a gentleman spirit and all,he reveals the truth to Lachchi immediately and entreats her to accept his true love.Torn between five years of loneliness bestowed upon her by a callous husband and the promise of five happy years with a man,I mean spirit,who truly seems to love her,she opts for the latter.Soon she too reciprocates his affection and they spend lovely three years together.The cherry on the icing is when Lachchi becomes with child.A year later when she is in the throes of a very painful and complicated childbirth,Kishenlal returns much to the spirit’s chagrin.The entire village is astounded at this remarkable occurrence and no one has a clue as to who is the imposter and who is not.

Lachchi,on the other hand delivers a baby girl but the spirit is unable to even get a glimpse of his child as the village elders have decided to present the case before the king and so he has to depart on a journey with them to the royal presence.On the way they encounter a shepherd(Amitabh Bachchan) who volunteers to solve their problem.Through a series of tests, he fools(or so he thinks) the ghost into getting trapped in a cloth bag.

Satisfied that justice has been done,the group returns back to the village.However Lachchi cannot bear the thought of spending the rest of her life with her actual husband while her heart still pines for the spirit.She admits to him that she consented to spend 4 years with him of her own free will and that she wasn’t under the influence of any magic or wizardry.Much to her delight,she then realizes that the spirit has actually escaped and taken up abode in Kishenlal’s body.And they live happily ever after…………

The story is simple and easy to grasp.The most common complaint that I’ve heard from people after they watch this film is that the story is farfetched and too incredible to actually happen.But why can’t they understand that the film is based on a novel where the author had the full right to create any flights of fancy that came to his mind?Did we question the plausibility of the Harry Potter movies?

Shahrukh Khan as Kishenlal is sadly miscast.Fortunately or unfortunately SRK has a certain amount of class or style rather,which permeates into any role he plays.Rustic characters like Kishenlal and even the truckdriver Raj in Chalte Chalte are totally at odds with the sophisticated persona of SRK that we have in mind.However he does his best to look at ease in that enormous turban.

Rani Mukherjee is supposedly the central character of this film but that fails to come across to the audience.Her character has not been given enough time to reveal her angst over the terribly difficult dilemma she is confronted with.Within the span of a few minutes she decides to forsake her pati parmeshwar for a bit of lovin’.Doesn’t that give her the expression of being slightly wanton?

Amitabh Bachchan in a special appearance only serves to add one more name to the already illustrious star cast.Anupam Kher as the avaricious businessman is a treat to watch.Juhi Chawla is competent as the forsaken wife.Blink and you will miss Suneil Shetty.But my favorite two characters are the pair of puppets who play sutradhaar for the movie.

Amol Palekar has tried to combine art with commercialism but his effort has gone in vain.Some things just don’t mix.The cinematography is a sight for sore eyes.The colourful, multihued rural Rajasthan in all its splendor is captured by the camera lens.The costumes are lovely too and fit the mood appropriately.And the jewellery,ooh la la! A mesmerizing combination of gold and rainbow colored stones,Tanishq has outdone itself with the Paheli collection.

But the star of the movie is undoubtedly the music.M.M.Kreem’s music is soulful and enjoyable to listen to.Dheere jalna in Sonu Nigam’s velvety voice is a song you can listen to many times over.Har raat kati is a audio and visual treat in Sukhwinder Singh and Sunudhi Chauhan’s voices.

Don’t expect too much from the film and you will enjoy it as much as I did.It’s a nice way to fill three hours of your day if you don’t have any other pressing plans.

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