Director Devanshu Singh’s film is a romcom, a masala entertainer that keeps a smile on your lips all throughout
The unrest around inter-caste marriages in India even today is a real thing. 14 Phere highlights this in an amusing manner, wherein what you see is characters embroiled in conflicting situations and at the same time making you laugh at how tricky life can be. The standard narrative structure of a screenplay throws a conflict at the characters by the end of first act and then they attempt to resolve it during the course of the film. Here, pleasantly for the audience, the screenplay is loaded with conflicts. While one is brought solution to, another one is ready to spark off.
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Sanjay (Vikrant Massey) and Aditi (Kriti Kharbanda) are a live-in couple, well off in their professions, and truly in love with each other. They want to get married to each other, but their castes and the respective families that sing ‘honour’ in every word won’t let them do it. They then hatch a plan, a plan that’s full of risks and twists.
Written by Manoj Kalwani, the story is interesting. Simple at the outset, but layered and actually practical in terms of the realism appeal. The way the idea has been conceived, you relate to the incidents because you find connecting dots in your own life or circle that you are in. Brilliant is the thought of the elongated opening scene where the makers establish so much in so little that you actually don’t need the entire build up of a love story. Watch it keenly to observe how carefully are the characters established along with their work space, mental frame of mind and what situations they are already in. And mind you, all this is integral to the drama at a later stage.
The scenes are crafted with energy and warmth, with exceptional production design and lighting contributing to the charming flavour. Whether the couple is mingling or falling in love, or when they move in together or how the guy decides to tell his family about his lady love, or how the two families are introduced to the viewers- it is all a very entertaining affair. It may seem a bit strange to see on screen how comfortably the characters talk of ‘honour killing’ and dowry as a regular means of practice, but coming to think of it- that’s a just portrayal of how things are. And that’s exactly where you find that connect.
Infact, what you also notice while all this is served at you, that the film isn’t only about the lead pair but how supporting characters have their say. It is very intelligent of the filmmakers to never put anything in the film just for the sake of it. Even a small scene that seems out of place at first, finds its relevance somewhere in the film. And everything happens to give strength to the main conflicting point of the film- how will this inter-caste marriage happen?
What is also noteworthy in the structure is that the conflicts shown are all of different kind. Although the pair is in love, they too have their won shares of conflicts. To add to it, their plan also invites troubles, so much so that you keep getting trouble and you yourself aren’t able to breathe. The film is also high on affection, emotions, and warmth- that families are known for- irrespective of the mess that it brings along. Devanshu Singh manages to keep the film grounded, disciplined and balanced trying to show two contrasting worlds that co-exist.
You may feel the film is dragged to some extent while they execute their second plan, but the film quickly moves on with its original pace. You may also feel that the climax could have been presented in some alternate way, as this seems a little too dramatic. But ofcourse, justified for the characters of the film.
Vikrant Massey shows you here that he is actually effortless when doing such roles. He does difficult things in the film and does them so easily that you feel it would have been a cakewalk. Sanjay’s emotions, mental turmoil, his reasoning for certain notions- are all brought forth by Massey in a very convincing manner.
Kriti Kharbanda also performs supremely well. Infact, she suits in the role so much that you don’t even want to imagine anyone else in her place. Aditi also has layers and her reasoning for certain things- and Kriti does it all with the help of a strong confident performer in her. Her expressions and body language while interacting with Sanjay’s mother is marvellous.
Jameel Khan is brilliant, as usual. It is incredible to observe how he slips into any role that he is with such grace. He is a sheer delight to watch and whenever he comes on screen, you know magic is bound to happen. Gauahar Khan is also fantastic lending strong support to the lead actors or even the situations. She suits the role, gets into the skin of the character and brings out mature performance in every scene she is in. Also, both of them must be commended for holding on to different accents whenever required. They had a real tough role.
Vineet Kumar and Yamini Das as Sanjay’s parents are perfect fit for the role. They are so good that you start seeing real people in them. Vineet Kumar is a seasoned actor acing every role that he’s in. Hats off to Yamini Das who after Sui Dhaaga, once again shows that she is a terrific performer.
Govind Pandey and Sumit Suri as Aditi’s father and brother respectively justify their roles well. Priyanshu Singh is also hilariously dark. His presence gives the film depth- in every sense.
The songs aren’t memorable but suit the narrative. You won’t feel the need to skip them, and that’s a win for the makers. The score has been done well thinking neatly of the situations. The mood is heightened to a major part. Kudos to Rajeev Bhalla, mainly for the score part.
Cinematography by Riju Das is simple but effective. The scenes have a bright feel attached to them, even when the most dreaded things are being talked about. That’s also got to do with the bent of mind of the characters. The lighting inside the house of the Sanjay-Aditi is to die for. You may have to pause just to observe the frames and how well lit it is. Production design by Mansi Dhruv Mehta also is very very precise and thoughtful. There are mostly houses shown and all of them go in tune with the social status of the characters. The space is the most important here.
Editing by Manan Sagar is also decently satisfactory for the major portion of the film. The sequence of the events is very much correct. The balance of humour, problems, emotions, and conflicts has been done extremely well. What comes after what is basically the film. And this laborious work has been done with flair.
It is a very good film. In times when we don’t have good romantic comedies or even comedies, this one entertains rightly. No preaching as such. No unnecessary drama. Sticking to the point and being true to the nature of the story. A good watch.