The first act of caste violence in P se Pyaar F se Faraar (PSPFSF) is by a woman. The matriarch of the Singh family berates and beats a cook who lied about her caste.
The other women in the house continue their breakfast without batting an eyelid. The kids in the house, who are witness to this grotesque act, imitate their grandmother and use the same slur to refer to the cook and the people from her area (Jamuna Paar).
All of this happens in the first ten minutes. Despite being a film that wants to showcase the stark reality of the caste system and honour killings, this is the only time the message truly comes across.
PSPFSF is about star-crossed inter-caste lovers, and such is the Sairat hangover that Sanjay Mishra, in a wasted role, throws a passing reference to the Marathi film, comparing it to the glossier and hence watered down Bollywood version, Dhadak.
Just like in Sairat and Balaji Sakthivel’s Kadhal, it is the girl who makes the first move. However, unlike the aforementioned films, the 17-year-old lovers in PSPFSF, played by Sonu aka Suraj Mali (Bhavesh Kumar) and Jhanvi Singh (Jyoti Yadav), hardly make us feel invested in their plights.
It is understandable why Jhanvi, a rebel, who wants to “hold a mirror to her family members and show them their flailings,” is drawn to Sonu, a member of the oppressed caste, as a prospective lover. But, we never understand why Sonu, an Olympic prospect in Javelin Throw, reciprocates her love. Even Jhanvi doesn’t get it, and she asks him if she is forcing herself on him. More than the performances of the leads, I attribute the detachment to the inconsistent writing.
For one, nothing happens in the film to warrant their elopement. With caste-fanatics baying for their blood, it might not have been the wisest decision to participate in much-televised National-level athletic games. The elopement is the weakest portion of the film, and the dialogues in these sequences make it even worse. When Sonu regurgitates dialogues such as “Jab seene mein India hoga, aur gale mein medal, tab koi jaat nahi poochega” (No one cares about the caste of a champion athlete), it feels more like ignorance than the innocence of a 17-year-old.
While the leads fail to hit the mark, the stellar supporting cast — that includes seasoned artistes such as Kumud Mishra, Jimmy Sheirgill, Girish Kulkarni, and Neha Joshi — saves the day. The film is elevated not just by these performances, but also by the writing in their portions, which is suddenly much more assured and fitting. That said, apart from Kumud, who delivers a noteworthy performance as the hot-headed patriarch of the Singh clan in the film, and a restrained but effective Jimmy, as his brother, most of the other actors get a raw deal.
They are used simply as token characters who recite unnecessary monologues, and there is some contrived staging, but their performances still shoulder the film to its very predictable end. PSPFSF ends with a disclaimer that the film is based on events that are increasing at an alarming rate of 796% every year. This, in turn, has increased the number of films made about this issue. In such a scenario, for a film to stand out, it is important to deliver the message effectively. Unfortunately, for PSPFSF, having the heart in the right place just doesn’t cut it anymore
Film: P se Pyaar F se Faraar
Director: Manoj Tiwari
Cast: Jimmy Shergill, Kumud Mishra, Bhavesh Kumar, Jyoti Yadav