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Friday, December 8, 2023

14 Phere Review: Satirical, Genuinely Funny & Watchable

Paired together in lead for the first time, Vikrant Massey and Kriti Kharbanda are set to take you on a rollercoaster ride with their latest film 14 Phere, which is now streaming on ZEE5.

Produced by ZEE Studios, directed by Devanshu Singh, and written by Manoj Kalwani, 14 Phere has the drama and chaos of a typical Indian wedding but multiplied by two.

The film also stars Gauahar Khan and Jameel Khan in pivotal roles.

“The film celebrates the institution of family and marriage but questions a few basic flaws in a reasonable way.

We are not trying to make fun of traditions and customs; in fact, you can watch this film with your entire family and I am sure you will have a good time.

The trailer is just the beginning, you will witness the unexpected twists and turns only once you watch the film. 23rd July on ZEE5, block your date!”, says director Devanshu Singh.

“Halfway through reading the script, I felt a range of emotions. I was so invested in Aditi and Sanjay and couldn’t wait to know what could happen next.

The intrigue I felt, reassured me that it was a kickass script and would make for a super entertaining movie!

It’s not just another wedding film, that’s for sure and I can’t wait for the audiences to witness the magic that is 14 Phere!

It will be the epitome of perfect naach, gaana and 2x the drama! 23rd July on ZEE5, you’re invited!”, shares Kriti Kharbanda.

“This movie is a complete family entertainer x 2! It has all the elements of an Indian ‘Shaadi’ – emotion, drama, romance, song and dance, comedy, family values and at the core of it – a couple madly in love!

I fell in love with the script immediately and can’t wait for everyone to watch it on ZEE5! The trailer is just a glimpse into the madness!”, says Vikrant Massey.

14 Phere introduces Sanjay (Vikrant Massey) and Aditi (Kriti Kharbanda). The two meet during college, fall in love and start living together.

They are ready to tie the knot now but Aditi’s father is against love marriages while Sanjay’s dad won’t acquiescence to an inter-caste union.

Sanjay and Aditi come up with a unique and non-conservative way to handle the situation. A eureka moment where Sanjay uses his theatre contacts to plan a real-life performance.

Instead of one, they decide to have two weddings with fake parents standing in for the real deal. Thus, the significance of the title. In Hindu wedding tradition, Saat Phere is basically seven vows that bind the bride and groom into husband and wife and each vow has a significant meaning. Here, the vows are doubled.

Enter ‘Delhi ki Meryl Streep’ Zubina (Gauahar Khan) and a passionate actor on hiatus, Amay (Jameel Khan).

Films revolving around caste (or any other gender) disparity is not a novel concept for Hindi cinema. Works like Article 15, Badrinath Ki Dulhania and a story about star-crossed lovers Dhadak, for example, have been quite intense and grabbed audiences by the throat. The heaviness of the movie’s concepts became the focal point.

However, 14 Phere explores societal subjects in a feather-light manner wherein the issues are an added layer. Initially, I was quite sceptical about it potentially poking at traditions and cultures to sound ‘woke’, but thankfully, this certainly does not happen.

There is no sense of pretentiousness and is in fact, progressively entertaining and genuinely humorous too. Humour is neatly balanced with seriousness and that is what succeeds. During scenes where their lie is almost caught the awkwardness makes for a hilarious watch – almost making it pantomime.

His last co-direction Chintu Ka Birthday consists of a light-hearted crux at the backdrop of intense warfare. The dichotomy of both aspects is what worked seamlessly. Similarly, in 14 Phere, the orthodox attitudes are what set the scene.

I feel that Devanshu Singh is quite felicitous in managing both story styles where there is always an onus of identity in his movies. Here, it seems like ‘Acting’ and ‘farce’ becomes a prevalent theme in 14 Phere. 

Even the opening scene of Sanjay playing a ‘joker’ on stage questioning society, acts as a metaphor for the story that is to unfold.

If there are any shortcomings, then for me it is a particular moment of the rift which appears between the couple. Aditi is given an opportunity to travel to the US for work and consequently, a conflict arises between the couple – which is shown and then moves on to their first ‘wedding’.

That story angle is left pretty much unexplored. Also, with such an entertaining build-up, I feel the ending is somewhat rushed and predictable.

There seems to be a dysfunctional conclusion. Where the film ends, I believe that is where the second half should’ve ideally begun.

Given that the movie is supposed to be a fun frolic watch, celebrating Indian weddings, the songs are underwhelming. Not to compare, but many movies which revolve around marriages usually had upbeat numbers. But the soundtrack here seems rather forgettable.

Both Vikrant and Kirti do a good job in playing lovers and they do very well during both comedic and intense scenes. The switch between both styles is smooth as they play characters who are real and exist within the fabrics of society.

For me though, the show-stealer here is Gauahar Khan. Her presence is solid and the approach to playing a passionate actor is superb. Even during the sequences where she portrays Sanjay’s mother is phenomenal. Her look, accent and demeanour are compelling.

Since OTT platforms nowadays are drenched with content that is heavy in political discourse, violence and unsolicited nudity, 14 Phere is quite a relief and satisfying to watch.

It is far from perfect, but the film’s appeal certainly has elements of freshness and is an ideal one time watch.

⭐⭐⭐ (3/5 stars)

14 Phere premieres on ZEE5.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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