Synopsis – Sanjay, a Rajput from Jahanabad, is in love with Aditi, a Jat from Jaipur. They want to get married, but don’t want to hurt their families. So they plan to get married by arranging a fake set of parents. Will they succeed?
My Take – Due to the still very present existence of the contentious system and tradition, divide on the basis of caste, religion and class continues to be a part of modern India as its citizens, especially the ones away from metropolitan cities, still prefer to uphold centuries old customs, and use threats and pressures on anyone willing to transgress, even crossing lines by participating in honor killing, all in the name of family pride.
Hence it is not surprising why for decades Indian filmmakers keep returning to the overly familiar tale that sees star-crossed lovers fighting against this traditional systems while adding their own set of panache into the mix. This latest ZEE5 release also has caste at the center of its story and its basic premise seemed no different.
However, what separates the film from the rest is its treatment, as director Devanshu Singh, who also directed last year’s delightful Chintu Ka Birthday, and writer Manoj Kalwani deal with in these poignant topic by treating the lead couple’s efforts to stay together as a light hearted comedy. Resulting in thoroughly engrossing entertainer.
Sure, it has its share of flaws, especially considering how these horrifying realities of contemporary India are played for laughs, however, it is also the absurdist route that it takes that actually makes the film work. Backed by a good set of actors and some comically precise dialogues, the film makes for a decent pleasant weekend viewing.
The story follows Sanjay Lal Singh (Vikrant Massey) and Aditi Karwasra (Kriti Kharbanda), who met in college, fell in love, moved in together and even ended working in the same office in Delhi. However their families remain in dark about their relationship, mainly as Sanjay, is a Rajput from Bihar, whilst Aditi is a Jat from Jaipur, as despite their wealth, both their families remain staunchly opposed to inter-caste marriage.
Setting a high example is Sanjay’s elder cousin sister who ran away and married someone from outside her community, is now deemed dead, with his father encouraging the local police to track down and kill the pair for bringing shame to the family.
Cornered by their families’ intransigence, and desperate to stop the parents from seeking out future alliances for brides and grooms, Sanjay, a theater enthusiast, comes up with the idea to hire stage actors, Amay (Jameel Khan) and Zubina (Gauahar Khan), to play their parents alternately, with their office staff taking over roles of relatives, as the two need to conduct the marriage rituals twice over, without raising any suspicion.
The plot is straightforward, and unfolds rather well, in thanks to its features that make it interesting and distinct. The screenplay of the film is pretty decent and keeps us constantly engaged with visual sparkle, and manages to grab your attention right from the first scene, and also the direction given by Devanshu Singh is decent enough, especially the script defines its characters, even the minor ones, quite well.
Humor has been used as a major tool throughout the narrative, and while it works in some places, it also falls flat on certain other occasions, however, it’s entertaining so you won’t really mind it.
In a subtle way, the film also touches on the sad reality of couples who fight for love and want their parent’s blessings at the same time for marriage.
We all know the couple would eventually marry, and we know this film is not going to bring about any social change nor is it trying to create awareness about social issues related to inter-caste marriages. This is a fluff film to be enjoyed as a light-hearted entertainer.
It also helps that entire ensemble is in fine form. Vikrant Massey is on home territory playing the guy next door you want to trust, and his effortless performance keeps you hooked through. Kriti Kharbanda has also given a pleasant performance, and makes for a good pair with Massey. Her highlight being the scene where she meets and bonds with Sanjay’s mother Sarla for the first time. Yamini Das, once again cast as Massey’s on-screen mother following Haseen Dillruba, adds another likable performance to her name.
However, it is Gauahar Khan who is the highlight of the film, who as Delhi’s Meryl Streep showcases a comic side never seen on full display before. In other roles, Vineet Kumar, Jameel Khan, Priyanshu Singh, Sumit Suri, Manoj Bakshi, Govind Pandey and Bhupesh Singh are a delight. On the whole, ’14 Phere’ is a light-hearted romantic comedy that manages to be a thoroughly engrossing entertainer.
Directed – Devanshu Singh
Rated – PG
Run Time – 111 minutes