14 Phere Review: Gauahar Khan steals the show in this otherwise dry Kriti Kharbanda-Vikrant Massey dramedy

Cast: Vikrant Massey, Kriti Kharbanda, Gauahar Khan, Sumit Suri, Yamini Das, Jameel Khan

Director: Devanshu Kumar

Bollywood Bubble Rating:

14 phere stars

Statistically, several parts of India still report honour killings every passing day. Most of the reported cases happen to be a result of inter-faith marriages. Director Devanshu Kumar spins a dramedy giving this otherwise serious topic a humorous twist. But is it enough? That’s the question everyone’s left with after spending two hours on 14 Phere. The makers don’t waste any time to build the premise – Aditi (Kriti Kharbanda) and Sanjay (Vikrant Massey) are college buddies and have a year-gap in between but post a fun bout of ragging, they quickly fall in love and even end up in the same office. But just like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, there is just one problem – Sanju is a Jatt and Aditi comes from a Rajput family and both families believe in their honour, not love. After all, like Kriti says, “Unko Titanic bhi tab pasand aati hai jab Jack doob raha hota hai.” And that makes way for a devious plan and a comedy of errors. Fake parents, nakli relatives, two shaadis and a lot of tomfoolery follows. Vikrant gets Zubina aka Delhi ki Meryl Streep (Gauahar Khan) to play his mother opposite a retired Amay (Jameel Khan) who’s ready to make a comeback to theatre again, with this knockout role. From planning everything to getting married twice and the anti-climax, the remaining 90 minutes of the film is all about that, but still not enough!

The movie has an interesting premise and could have made for a rib-tickling comedy if handled better. While it could have easily been the dum biryani you’re craving for, the masala is missing and it’s only upto Zubina’s character to add the little namak. Two lovebirds and opposing families are tailor-made ingredients to a perfect storyline – while the director tries to take a funny way out, he gets stuck in his own cobweb, not understanding how to end the film. The entire climax pulls the film a dozen notches down – it’s confusing and exhausting beyond a point. While the runtime is a little less than 2 hours, you still wished it ended better. The treatment is not bad, it’s just dry in the second half. Many might criticise the film’s climax for almost mocking such a serious issue which can be termed as a heinous crime and is ‘no joke’, but one needs to understand the makers’ take on it. The problem I had is not with the humour, but with the blandness which had no impact on viewers like me, sadly.

Performance wise, it’s Gauahar Khan who shines and actually outshines everyone else, including the lead pair. Her comic timing is impeccable, her over the top Zubina sails through the most dry scenes and adds the tadka. It’s a shame that despite some terrific performances, the industry is yet to give Gauahar her due. In fact, even Jameel who plays the fake father is very good. The scenes, featuring the duo, are a favourite. There’s a brilliant chai one in the train and the way the two characters try to eat into each other’s space for ‘more lines’ will make you burst out laughing. Vikrant, as usual, is always incredible. He’s, unfortunately, an actor who is never bad even in a bad film. But I wish there was more meat and power to his Sanju. Had it been a different climax, he would have nailed it better. But he falls short, because of the weak scripting. Kriti is not just a pretty face but can act really well and several movies like Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana prove that. But again, she falls prey to a poor narrative that has very little scope for her character to do much, actually. In fact, Gauahar’s character has way more punch than hers and she definitely deserved more. Having said that, she has a great screen presence and should get many more big films.

In the other supporting cast, honestly, nobody manages to hit a mark. Yamini Das, who I thoroughly loved in Haseen Dillruba, has been reduced merely to a prop in this. Each time she’s on screen, you expect firecrackers and soon realise she’s been given the loose end of the stick in 14 Phere. Sumit Suri looks good and acts well but again, he’s got limited screen time. Even a veteran performer like Vinnet Kumar is nothing but an add-on to the script.

Songs are well defined – Chamak is a riot but the screenplay could have been way better and despite the short runtime, the film feels like a marathon, especially post a really boring second half. Forcing a fight scene between the couple could have been avoided, or given better positioning otherwise.

Despite having a terrific ensemble in place (one where everyone can actually ACT!), the director makes a bland khichdi out of a biryani and that’s a shame. Watch 14 Phere only for the powerful star cast and Gauahar’s Zubina! It’s just a time pass one-time watch.

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