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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 

 

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P se Pyaar F se Farraar, Review: On a killing

P se Pyaar F se Farraar, Review: On a killing

Alarming statistics at the end of the film reveal that killing of young men and women who elope or marry into other castes or religions increased by 769% last year. Reports of such barbaric brutality, called ‘honour killing’, appear in the newspapers and on TV channels regularly. States in the North, North-west and central parts of India are most severely affected. So, in the footsteps of Sairaat (Marathi) and Dhadak (Hindi), we have a P se Pyaar F se Farraar, a stale tale of love and death. Honour killing might be the theme, but if the makers of this edition thought they were on to a kill(ing), at the box-office or critics conclave, they were mistaken.

Omveer Singh is a gun-toting, goon-toting politician in the mythical city of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, renowned for the love of Lord Krishna and Radha. He lives with his wife, mother, 17 year-old daughter Jahnvi, brother Rajveer Singh and his wife. Omveer dispenses his brand of justice by brutally torturing or murdering those who cross the imaginary caste/religion line that he and his community have drawn. Not content with mere killing, he also hacks them with swords and throws them into pyres. When he is not busy doing any of the above, he chops off fingers and rapes the hapless victims, if any of them happen to be women. That is how he deals with a low caste family that harboured a Muslim, who eloped with one of the clan’s girls. His mother is no better.

Of all the girls in the city, his own daughter, Janhvi, falls in love with a 17 year-old sugar-cane juice seller, Sooraj ‘Sonu’ Mali, who is also a well-mannered student and an athlete, and decides to escape from the madhouse she calls home, full of “delusional” individuals. She makes an elaborate plan, covers the CCTV camera at school, cuts class and elopes with him, getting far away before the family can begin to suspect anything. When the facts become known, Omveer heads for the boy’s home and chops-off his mother’s finger, since she is unable to give him the whereabouts of the fleeing couple. Rajveer then takes it upon himself to trace the two teenagers, who discard their mobile phones to evade being tracked (an ‘inspired’ trope). They land at Sonu’s brother Rajesh’s place in Delhi, who delays the inevitable. Omveer and Rajveer, however, have connections in high places, and a mafia retinue that means business.

Writer Vishal Vijay Kumar allows himself only two luxuries: first, a character with no name, who notices the couple on a bus and keeps making comments and asking questions about/of them; this character gives them away to a policeman. Second is the character of the police constable himself, who borders on a caricature. For the rest, it is a grim story of impossible love and the beast in some of us. By naming his heroine Janhvi, he betrays his infatuation with Dhadak, which starred Janhvi Kapoor and had the same theme. In fact, the inquiring individual (named Mr. Inquiry in the credits) actually spills the beans by blurting out the name ‘Janhvi’ loud, deliberately confessing the source of the plot. How much can a few bigwigs get away with on sheer money and muscle power in India continues to astound us moviegoers, till we read about such incidents in real-life, and see films based on true-life occurrences. Implausible, perhaps, but possible, all the same.

Dialogue is purely functional, sometimes unintentionally funny. There are some interesting takeaways, nevertheless. For one, the boy is 6’6” tall and an outstanding javelin thrower. How many Indian films will carve out their hero in this image? Okay, so the film tom-toms the fact that he is even taller than the tallest, the 6’2” Amitabh Bachchan. We can allow them that little indulgence. The girl smokes, drinks, and more or less convinces the pauper-level boy to run away with her. Again, not a common characterisation. In Alwar, Rajasthan, Vishal brings us face-to-face with a tribe that openly practices prostitution among unmarried women, and Rajesh’s wife Mallika is an ex-prostitute who he rescued by giving her a mangal sutra (neck-chain that indicates that the wearer is married). As an aside, whosoever gave the film its title is in the running for the award for the most misleading title, a moniker that conveys comedy and comic-book ambience, whereas the film is anything but those things.

Manoj Tiwari, who made his direction debut with a comedy film, Hello Darling, produced by Subhash Ghai, and went on to make Global Baba, a film about the power, politics and business of godmen in India, as his second film. As director of P se Pyaar and F se Farraar, Manoj Tiwari (not to be confused with the politician of the same name) has so many films to use as reference points, though the film is, at least partly, based on a true incident. That makes his job both easy and complicated: What to take from where, without making a mish-mash of it.

Why he lets the script meander for a while with Mr. Inquiry and the unlikely policeman is beyond comprehension. However, the gun-pulling act and the follow-up, by Jahnvi, is a welcome break from the monotony. Tiwari is unable to lift the climax to any cathartic level, though he keeps all possibilities open till the very last two scenes. Audiences will not need to second guess what happens next, with the only interest being in finding out how it happens. Actors largely support him, and he is even able to rein in Kumud Mishra. If Tiwari intended to provide some comic relief, he fails miserably. If he did not, why have those redundant escapades in the first place?

Bhavesh Kumar of Rohtak was selected from 200 hopefuls, and though he is indeed 6’6” tall, he was a mere 15 year-old schoolboy when he was signed, to play a 17 year-old. He is raw and child-like, and that works in his favour here. It’s not a great debut by many a mile, but he could have done far worse. Jyoti Yadav has droopy eyes, which again go with the character, as someone, who, at 17, smokes and drinks, though she looks older. Her exuberance and candour is palpable. Jimmy Sheirgill as Rajveer Singh is on familiar territory, playing a man with a simmering interior and a confused exterior. Janhvi uses the adjective “delusional” for him in particular, and look at what it results in. Kumud Mishra as Omveer impresses, except for the one-too-often pulling out a gun act, for which he need not be blamed at all. It is Girish Kulkarni as Rajesh who strikes just the right chord. Fluent in his Urdu/Hindi diction, he betrays the faintest of Marathi accents, which, luckily, never gets in the way of his emoting.

Sanjay Mishra as the passenger and Brijendra Kala as the policeman are totally wasted, as is an over-the-top Akhilendra Mishra, as the lower caste politician, Benia. Zakir Hussain as the Sports Coach is used in moderate doses, and effectively so. Pankaj Jha is a natural as Pankaj Singh, the rabble-rousing Singh clan leader. As Mallika, Neha Joshi is effusive and attractive. Asif Basra as a Singh clan member who bears the brunt of Omveer’s madness, and Shivani Sapori as Ammaji (Omveer and Rajveer’s mother) do well too. Seema Azmi is outstanding as Gouri Malan, Sooraj Mali’s mother. Also in the cast is Ehsan Khan as Sandeep.

Lyrics, mainly by Ripul Sharma (he sings too, the best track in the film), are meaningful and thematic. Music by Ripul Sharma and Sanjiv–Ajay results in songs that are soulful yet indistinctive. Same goes for the background score by Dharma Vish, cinematography by D. Kannan and Devendra Tiwari, and editing by Chandan Arora. Parallel cutting, though, is well-maintained. Overall, the film does not sag significantly, but then neither does it rise enough, to make your 131 minutes worthwhile.

We’ve been there, done that! Deja vu!

Rating: **

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipMd5SSuxbE

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


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