Rabindra Pokharel


Ghosts get a break from their fearsome archetype and pessimistic roles in ‘Paheli,’ an expository fantasy of an Indian bride’s solitary life and passions. Lacchi (Rani Mukherjee), brought up in the backwaters of Rajasthan, gets married to Shah Rukh Khan. Shah Rukh belongs to an avaricious family where moneymaking comes foremost: he leaves his wife to the care of his family paying scant regard to her secret passions. Lacchi faces five long years of separation without ever having spent one intimate hour with her husband. A ghost manages to steal a look at Lacchi while she is on her way to her groom’s home. He irrevocably falls in love ravished by her stunning beauty. Disguising himself as her husband, the ghost then makes his way into her otherwise insipid life and succeeds in winning over her love bringing to her all the conjugal bliss she yearns for and more than compensating for the void in her life. But it’s not so often that everything one wishes for gets fulfilled. When Lacchi gives birth to a child, the drama begins.

In ‘Paheli,’ Amol Palekar, who’s known for his offbeat stories and spontaneity of storytelling can boast of another spectacular triumph. The metaphors in ‘Paheli’ are bewitching and the sharp contours of each characterscape are drawn impeccably. The story is told with abandon and buoyancy and vivid, folksy rendition. Sandhya Gokhale’s exquisite screenplay gives spirit to the story and the light treatment of the otherwise serious turn of events never betrays the message the story wants to project. King Khan is riveting in his performances as steadfast stickler to the essence of both the characters he portrays: the mean husband who scoffs at his wife’s emotions and the playful and passionate ghost. As a typical Rajasthani belle, Rani Mukherjee pulls off her role with elegance and ease. Another character that adds poignancy to the story (and who we keep looking to see more of) is Juhi Chawla, who depicts the heartbreaking gravity of the demeanour a forsaken wife. (‘Paheli,’ genre: fantasy, cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Amitabh Bachhan, Juhi Chawla, directed by: Amol Palekar, Showing at: Jai Nepal)