Today we have a different fairy tale movie because it’s a Bollywood movie. Fantasy movies are uncommon in Bollywood and more to the point this movie is based on a folk tale. It’s also based on a short story written by Vijayadan Detha which also had another Bollywood movie based on it called Duvidha from 1973.
However the movie we’re going to look at today is called Paheli which means Riddle. It came out in 2005, stars Shah Rukh Khan in a double role and Rani Mukherji. It was also India’s entry for the 79th Academy Awards but since it’s not about Indians having issues with being Indians or some historical events it didn’t get the nomination.
The plot goes that a young lady named Lachchi is getting married and she is pretty excited. On her way to her new husband’s home, they stop at a place where it’s said a bunch of ghosts lives erm haunt or really just hang out. One of these ghosts falls in love with Lachchi. And stalks her a little bit.
On their wedding night, Lachchi’s husband, Kishanlal, is more interested is managing accounts, much like he did on the road. He then tells Lachchi that his father is making him leave on a seven year business trip the next day, so it’s better if they do nothing on their wedding night as Lachichi has to stay behind. This devastates her. Kishanlal stops at the same place with ghosts from before, it’s like watering hole rest stop type of place. The ghost who loves Lachchi recognizes Kishanlal and takes on a physical form and learns about Kishanlal’s extended business trip. The ghost then takes on Kishanlal’s likeness and goes to his home so he can be with Lachchi. He does tell her that he is not her husband but a ghost that fell in love with her and he asks her what she wants. This moves her as no one ever asked her what she wanted before so she accepts him and his love.
They spend four blissful years together while Kishanlal pines for home and writes letters that don’t get deliver because the Ghost pissed off the messenger. However he returned home when he hears rumors of Lachchi’s pregnancy. To settle the two Kishanlals the men decide to go to the King as one Kishanlal is totally cool and the other one is a massive whiner. Before they get to the king they run into a shepherd, who makes them perform tests to prove who is the real husband. The final test is that the Shepherd asks the real lover of Lachchi to enter a water bottle which the Ghost does and is sealed inside. This devastates Lachchi but then it’s revealed that the Ghost possessed Kishanlal before entering the water bottle so they can be together.
Just to note, the book ends with the Ghost staying in the water bottle.
On the one hand this movie is very mean to Kishanlal who is just presented as weak-willed man who is just doing what his parents told him and he does harbors affection for his wife and then is all but abandon in his duty. However on that pesky other hand, the preceptive the movie took is about a woman who is posed with a riddle, live a sad life as the duty of marriage forces on her or take the love she is offered. According to Shah Rukh Khan it’s a woman’s liberation movie though small in scope.
This movie really is a riddle because Kishanlal and Lachchi are two side of the coin, Kishanlal does his duty and is punished for it to the extent that he is possessed by a Ghost for the sake of Love while Lachchi takes love in a selfish manner and is reward for it. The way the movie presents it, you’re on Lachchi and the Ghost’s side but it still misguided even with a nobler theme.
Given as the movie has its core story components at the start and end you would think that this would mean that the Characters would be a least be interesting. Well no. The Ghost’s characterization is he is a bit of a prankster, nice and charming. That’s not bad but it’s very typical of characters played by Shah Rukh Khan which are ubiquitous. Lachchi doesn’t seem to have much of a personality either. She likes love but that is kind of it.
As is standard with Bollywood movies this one has musical numbers. The songs aren’t bad but they are not that interesting either. All the songs are nice but run together in terms of sound. It could be because the movie is a period movie so there isn’t a ton of variations of style they could use effectively. Again the songs and choreography are nice and nothing more.
Where this movie really shines is the technicals. It’s pretty! Most Bollywood movies are pretty, it’s their style but this one is lavish. The jewelry even gets its own credit. It was done by Tanishq and at the time of this movie’s release they offered a Paheli collection. The costumes are very nice too, nothing is very like distinctive as a stand-out but Lachchi is often seen wearing oranges with blues which is a striking combo.
Paheli is a beautiful movie on the visual level but the spirit of love is well intentioned but misguided.Follow thehunchblog