Bollywood A-lister Anushka Sharma has dismissed reports in the Indian media that her latest film, the Punjab-set romantic comedy Phillauri, was inspired by animated fantasy Corpse Bride.
“I have seen those stories,” says Sharma. “I think what happens is when people see a film the first thing all they do is think of another film, and because there is a ghost and a love story, it is a natural thing to compare it to a film like that, but for me, there is no similarity whatsoever with that film.”
She goes on to admit she has not watched the Tim Burton cult classic, and while director Anshai Lal has, she stresses it was not something that influenced the film.
“I think Corpse Bride is very much in that Tim Burton-kind- of dark place, and that is not my thing, it is no fun for me. You will see when you watch the film, this is very much a fun family film, so I think when it comes to those comparisons everyone should just ignore it.”
Phillauri tells the story of Kanan (Suraj Sharma), who is persuaded by his friends and family to marry a tree to ward off the bad luck afflicting his love-life.
To Kanan’s surprise, his supernatural endeavours awaken an ancient tree spirit, Shashi, played by Anushka Sharma, and his love-life becomes even more complicated as he attempts to help her return to the spirit realm.
The plot certainly shares conceptual similarities with Burton’s 2005 work, which sees Johnny Depp’s Victor dragged into the underworld by a tree and finding himself in a strange love-triangle with the deceased corpse bride (played by Helena Bonham Carter) and his earthly love Victoria (Emily Watson), though Phillauri’s theme of marrying inanimate objects at the behest of a superstitious family perhaps takes on even greater significance, given the debate around arranged marriages in India.
Anushka, however, does not want to overplay the social significance of the film. “I don’t really think it’s making too much of a comment on anything socially,” she insists. “It’s just a fun film. People have their beliefs and I’m all for everyone believing what they want to believe, but we’re just having fun with the film.
“My brother’s actually getting married soon and we tried to get him to marry a tree to help publicise the film … he refused.”
Phillauri also saw Sharma add “producer” to her CV, in addition to her job in front of the camera. And the actress seems to have taken the greater responsibility in her stride.
“Every film comes with its own challenges,” she admits.
“With this film being producer and star was a challenge, but it was actually very easy.” The film releases on Thursday, a day ahead of its release in India.