14 Phere Hindi Movie Review
Almost every unrelenting parent in Hindi cinema has a soft corner for their children, especially when it comes to the latter's romance matter. Take Amrish Puri's father from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, for instance. All it takes for Kajol's Simran to make her father let her live with her lover, Raj, is "Babuji Please". But the parents in Devanshu Singh's 14 Phere are so unrelenting that they contemplate honor killings to settle an age-old Hindi cinema cliche. Here, pleading does not work as it is guns that mainly do the talking, so to speak.
This is a ludicrous film, which seems to be confused about how to treat itself. The issues at the heart of the film, such as honor killing and parents' insistence on same caste marriage, are grim realities in India. But for a good part, 14 Phere behaves like a Rajkumar Santoshi film, or a movie from David Dhawan or Priyadarshan. Even Priyadarshan has made a movie as gritty as Aakrosh.
The story of 14 Phere is fairly straightforward. Vikrant Massey's Sanjay and Kriti Kharbanda's Aditi are lovers with a live-in relationship. Sanjay used to be Aditi's junior in college, where the latter used to rag the former. But the innocuous ridicule blossoms into a full-fledged romance, and soon the couple settles into a large house. We meet them at a point where they want to marry, something which is seldom easy in Hindi cinema. Why? Because the men in each of their families are averse to the idea of people from different castes marrying each other. So, to address this issue, the couple devises a plan that entails them duping each other's family members with actors hired to be their fake parents.
Anyone who has seen a fair number of such Hindi films should know that the whole plan would go awry at some point, and then there would be a resolution to the scenario. Devanshu and his writer Manoj Kalwani try to infuse humor into some of the film's seemingly serious moments, but the effort seems clumsy. Take the following situation, for instance. When the lovers blow their cover, one of their family members tells another character to pour petrol over their parents. Then, that character asks the family member whether he should pour it over the real parents or the acting ones. The problem is that the effect that the makers are aiming for may be satire, but it falls flat.
As a situation, seeming bad guys wielding guns and saying funny lines at the same time is borderline Andaz Apna Apna (remember Crime Master Gogo?). Then, there are moments where the main characters try to reason with men who seem resigned to the idea of honor killing. Their reasoning is so puerile that it seems like a mere Whatsapp forward.
Now, all of the above is not to say that 14 Phere is entirely unwatchable. There is something inherently cheesy about big fat Indian wedding movies that I like. The makers use a song whenever and wherever they feel it is convenient, to condense what would be 10 minutes of drama into a montage. The soundtrack from Rajeev Bhalla and Jam 8 is appropriate for such a film, with foot-tapping numbers.
The acting is not half as bad, either. Kriti Kharbanda is far from convincing as Aditi, but she is serviceable. Vikrant Massey seems at ease even when the movie appears to be on a slippery slope. And, Yamini Das makes us care for the character of Sanjay's mother, with a strong scene or two late into the film.