A fabulous feast for the senses!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 03/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the Hindi ("Bollywood") films I have seen in the past year or so, "Paheli" stands out as very special in many ways, and together with its presentation in a gorgeous box I think this DVD even deserves a 6-star rating. Some of this film's outstanding features which impressed me the most are first of all the absolutely stunning feast of colours, beautiful and amazing sets and overall superb photography, all filmed in India's most fascinating region, Rajasthan. Having toured Rajasthan over 10 years ago, this aspect had special significance for me, but I'm sure every viewer would be amazed by the breathtaking beauty of the traditional buildings and costumes in particular. Some other Indian and Rajasthan traditions are also incorporated in this delightful fantasy story based on Rajasthan folklore, giving the viewer a delicious taste of India which is not often seen in most popular Bollywood movies. In fact, anyone used to the popular run-of-the-mill Bollywood output might be very surprised by "Paheli" due to its `traditional purity'; its focus solely on a Rajasthan folktale set somewhere in the past using pure Hindi language (ie, no English words frequently thrown in) and shot on location in Rajasthan, India. Nevertheless, "Paheli" still has all the typical Bollywood ingredients such as a song and dance every 20 minutes or so, a sentimental love story and a star-studded cast. The music, like the story and scenes, are also purely Indian and are played on traditional instruments, which was also a highlight for me personally.
For those in the know, "Paheli" boasts some of India's top stars, all of whom give some of their best performances in this film. Often referred to as `the King of Bollywood', Shahrukh Khan excels himself in this dual role as the leading man and his double: a ghost who impersonates him. (Impressive special effects also rate highly in this film such as the ghost's `tricks' and scenes in which man and ghost interact with each other) His leading lady (once again) is Rani Mukherjee, one of the many stunningly beautiful Indian actresses who have talent and skills as well as beauty. And I always enjoy the great Amitabh Bachchan, this time in only a small but pivotal role as an old desert shepherd who solves the riddle ('Paheli' means riddle) of which of the two identical men is the man and which one the ghost. It's always a treat for me to see Anupam Kher in one of his good character roles, this time as Shahrukh's greedy businessman father, and the lovely Juhi Chawla also offers a small supporting role. For dazzling Bollywood stars, "Paheli" is sure to please, and for the complete novice to Indian cinema this film's many other superior features are sure to surprise and impress. And for a little extra depth and behind-the-scenes insight, this DVD has among its bonus features a 30-minute "The Making of..." documentary which sheds some light onto the stars' own views on the value and message of the film for today's audience. My only complaint (though a very small one) is that some of this documentary's dialogue is in Hindi without any subtitles, but for the most part it is informative and enjoyable, and helps the viewer to appreciate "Paheli" even more. Another enjoyable bonus feature on the DVD is a CD launch with interviews with the stars. Bollywood fan or not, this is a special film worth seeing!
Life, burn slowly
Maria Álvarez Folgado | castellar del valles, barcelona Spain | 02/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Life, burn slowly" -Dharelee jeli (?) in Hindi- is the title of one of the songs inside this Indian film. It is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, and, like the rest of the film, tells us to enjoy life as we get it. Ironically, it is a ghost (Sharukh Khan) who must show us how much life is worthwhile.
The plot for this wonderful Indian movie is inspired on an old folk tale, a love story that tells the dilemma faced by Lachcho when an incarnated ghost takes the place of her absent husband. The husband (played by Sharukh Khan, too) has never really been anything but cold towards her, giving more importance to material gains than to his new relationship, and not caring for his new wife's feelings to the point of abandoning her in pursuit of riches after the wedding night. In steps the ghost, who fell in love with the young bride after just a glimpse of her while she was travelling to her new home. The ghost is grateful for this opportunity of tasting life in the place of Lachcho's reluctant husband, but immediately decides against doing this at the cost of Lachcho's feelings or dignity: he tells her from the beginning that he is not her husband, declares his love and lets her decide what she wants to do.
This opportunity to decide is a deeply moving moment for Lachcho, who has never in her life been asked her opinion, not even about her own life. And this dilemma provides the vehicle for one of the movie's most important themes: the dignity that comes with making our own decissions and taking responsibility for our lives; a dignity that, unfortunately, is denied to many women.
How like Bollywood to make a film that can be "read" at several levels, where there is all the glamorous entertainment typical of Indian films -music,songs, gorgeous clothes, bright colours...- and ethical themes that provide food for thought. And it really is like that: Sharukh Khan is his old charming and adorable self (and getting better and better at acting; I hope he NEVER retires !!!), Rani Mukherji has just the right chemistry for him, none eclipsing the other (although she's strikingly beautiful and quite a good actress), the music and songs have to be some of THE BEST I've ever heard in my life, the local setting in Rajastan is so intriguing that it takes an effort not to beging packing your bags to go there immediately.
And all in all, the "paheli" or dilemma/riddle for me is....how can you pretend to have any kind of relationship with someone if you don't give him/her the oportunity to choose? The answer is that this is, of course, impossible: there is no love without freedom of choice."
One of the most beautiful Bollywood films, made to date....
D. Pawl | Seattle | 01/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those of you, new to the genre of Bollywood, this is a great introduction. Those of you who are longtime Bollywood fans, please don't miss it on this gem! "Paheli" is based on the ancient tale of ghosts, mistaken identity and the pursuit of true love and how far it takes two lovers.
Lachchi (Rani Mukherjee) is a beautiful young woman, who is married to Kishan (Shah Rukh Khan), a man only interested in tabulating the costs of his wedding, on the night the young couple should be honeymooning (!). When Kishan must travel far away, on account of business, his young wife is left alone (supposedly to wait for him, for five years time). Fate has other plans in mind, however. A spirit, who first took the form of a bird and then a squirrel, sees the beautiful young woman and ultimately falls in love with her, upon first glance. He takes the form of her husband, and proceeds to woo her and charm the rest of the village. Of course, when the time comes that her TRUE husband returns, complications arise and only time (and a few tests) will tell what becomes of Lachchmi and her spirit lover.
This classic story of love and magical realism is beautifully told, through elaborate costume, lusciously choreographed dance numbers and glowingly believeable and engaging acting. Shah Rukh Khan (Lachchi/spirit) is something of a legend in the Bollywood film industry, and he is at his smouldering best here. His acting chops are showcased, along with his infectious appeal as a romantic lead actor. His lead, Rani Mukherjee, matches his charming presence, with her graceful beauty (as an actress and dancer). Together, they weave a beautiful tale that, we, the audience fall in love with all the way......Check it out......"
"He Says He Is Love" ~ Wealth vs. Affection, Flesh vs. Spiri
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 07/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Note: Hindi with English subtitles.
Synopsis: Lachchi (Rani Mukherjee) has just married Kishanial (Shah Rukh Khan), eldest son of a wealthy business family obsessed with continually adding to their enormous monetary treasure. On their wedding night Kishanial informs his new wife that he will forego the sexual pleasures of their first embrace in order to prepare for a business trip in the morning, a journey that will last five long years. The joys of marital bliss seem to be unattainable for the lovely bride until Kishanial unexpectedly returns home three days later. Is it really Kishanial, or is it someone that just looks like her new husband? It seems her money hungry groom has been replaced by a lovelorn spirit that has fallen madly in love with Lachchi and wants to replace the absent Kishanial. Will she accept his offer?
Critique: `Paheli' released in '05 is an enchanting, at times mystical tale of love from beyond. While you might initially guess this is going to be a comedy, you will soon discover it is a very poignant romance that will captivate and entertain from beginning to end. Along with the well conceived storyline and insightful dialogue you'll also delight in the beautiful sets and scenery, memorable songs and dances and a strong cast lead by two of Bollywood's finest. Shah Rukh proves yet again why he's number one at the box office and Rani has never looked lovelier.
`Paheli' is a film that will stand up well to repeat viewings. My rating: -5 Stars-."