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7 1/2 Phere: Only fun by name

By Sukanya Verma
July 30, 2005 16:36 IST
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7 1/2 PhereIf only interesting titles would make interesting movies. 71/2 Phere is a catchy name, and a fairly exciting concept too: a creative director (Juhi Chawla as Asmi) wanting to shoot an actual wedding and air it LIVE across a huge television network.

She finds a joint family in the midst of marriage preparations, and explores their complex lives and dark secrets through hidden cameras.

Cool? Anything but that.

It doesn't take much before you figure out that coming for this film was a bad idea. 
Here are 7 negatives and half a positive about this movie -

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The bad:

1. The acting ranges from insanely lousy to disastrously loud. The soap opera-obsessed Joshis are supposed to be a bunch of nuts. But this joint family is a non-stop attack on the nerves. They yowl. They screech. They whine. The cast mostly comprises of little known faces and contributes generously in making a mockery of the story. Among the recognisable faces, Irrffan stays in his stereotypical laidback mode with a drawling body language and disinterested performance. 

2. Isshaan Trivedi, better known for penning the Aamir Khan hit, Ghulam makes a disappointing debut. His direction is messy. If his aim was to make a satire on the invasion of television media, irony, wit and wry sarcasm are entirely missing. His intentions may be very Edtv (a reality television satire directed by Ron Howard), but his execution lets him down. The screenplay is haywire and far from convincing. The turns sadly into a David Dhawan brand no-brainer. 

7 1/2 Phere3. What's with the film's obsession with lingerie, cleavage, condoms and sex? A 60-plus old man subjects his hapless wife with exotic lingerie. A repulsive fella digs his gaze into the scantily clad maid's bosom. The head of the family constantly looks at pictures of women in undergarments. It is later revealed he designs them for a living. In a nutshell, all the men in the Joshi khandaan come across as lecherous creeps. And their being that does not make any difference to the story. 

4. The story is plagued by aimless subplots. A vaguely projected lesbian relationship, conveniently forgotten about in the second half. Why resort to meaningless sensationalism? In another instance, the bride to be is in love with another bloke and plans to elope with him. Nothing comes out of this either. 

5. The humour is simply yuck. Is one expected to laugh at the exasperating banter between a toothless grandpa and his hysterical wife? Or nine-year olds asking their teenaged cousin to lend glamour to their home video by flashing more  cleavage? Or when two goofy cops (Ninad Kamat, Manoj Pahwa) mistake a television crew van for a terrorist vehicle? There is nothing delightful about Juhi yanking the zipper of her dress up and down to catch Irrfan's attention either.

7 1/2 Phere6. A rainbow is always pleasant, but in 7 1/2 Phere it blinds the eyes. Women in the film sport all the rainbow colours in their gaudiest form. The costume jewellery is garish and chunky. The hairstyles are ridiculously flamboyant. And as for the numerous layers of visible make up, the less said the better.

7. The climax is pathetic. It just refuses to end. A series of uninspiring misadventures lead to the wedding finale. This is followed by a dragging and unintentionally comical conversation between the bride and groom. Last but not the least, Juhi's conscience awakens and she blahs idealistically.

The good:

1/2: There is a half reason to watch it as well, namely, Juhi Chawla. The actress with her spontaneous fervour and frothy charm lends dignity to her part. She is the only intelligent thing about a film that is not.

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Sukanya Verma