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Paheli (English: Riddle) is a Bollywood fantasy film released in India on 24 June 2005. It is a remake of the 1973 Hindi movie Duvidha by Mani Kaul.[2] It was directed by Amol Palekar and produced by Juhi Chawla, Aziz Mirza, Sanjiv Chawla and Shah Rukh Khan, who also plays the male lead. Paheli is based on the short story written by Vijayadan Detha in Rajasthani language and tells the story of a wife (Rani Mukerji) who is left by her husband (Shah Rukh Khan) and visited by a ghost, disguised as her husband, who is in love with her and takes her husband's place. Sunil Shetty, Juhi Chawla, Rajpal Yadav and Amitabh Bachchan have supporting roles in the film.

Paheli movieposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAmol Palekar
Produced byGauri Khan
Screenplay bySandhya Gokhale
Story byVijayadan Detha
Sandhya Gokhale
Amol Palekar
StarringShah Rukh Khan
Rani Mukerji
Juhi Chawla
Anupam Kher
Amitabh Bachchan
Sunil Shetty
Rajpal Yadav
Narrated byNaseeruddin Shah
Ratna Pathak
Music bySongs:
M.M. Kreem
Background Score:
Aadesh Shrivastava
CinematographyRavi K. Chandran
Ayananka Bose
Edited byAmitabh Shukla
Steven H. Bernard
Distributed byRed Chillies Entertainment
Release date
  • 24 June 2005 (2005-06-24)
Running time
141 minutes
Budget140 million (equivalent to 360 million or US$5.1 million in 2018)[1]
Box office320 million (equivalent to 810 million or US$12 million in 2018)[1]

The movie opened the ninth Zimbabwe International Film Festival at the Libertie Cinema Complex in Harare. It was also screened at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival.[3] The working title of the movie was Ghost Ka Dost (translates to Friend of a Ghost ). Paheli was India's official entry to the 2006 Oscars.[4]


The movie is narrated by two puppets, voiced by Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah.

Enthusiastic young Lachchi (Rani Mukerji) is to be married to Kishan (Shah Rukh Khan), the son of the rich merchant Bhanwarlal (Anupam Kher). Kishan is a dutiful son who honors his father's wish to start a new, far-away business on a predetermined auspicious date, which happens to be the day after the wedding ceremony. On the wedding night, Kishan turns away from his wife to finish his bookkeeping, and in the early morning hours sets off on a business trip that is to last five years. Lachchi is devastated; Gajrobai (Juhi Chawla), her husband's sister-in-law, consoles her, empathizing on the grounds that Gajrobai's husband Sunderlal (Sunil Shetty) has also disappeared. The next day, a ghost appears, having taken Kishan's shape and voice because of his own attachment to Lachchi.

Lachchi is thus presented with a dilemma between the representation of all of her desires in the form of the ghost who has taken the form of her real husband. She takes this newfound, sexual, magical, social, self-confident version of Kishan as hers. As Kishan, the ghost befriends all of the real Kishan's family and keeps Bhanwarlal happy by providing him with magical, possibly illusory, gold coins. His only blunder is in his treatment of the messenger Bhoja, who is perplexed by the idea that Kishan has sent a letter from his business trip only to receive it himself in his own house and offended when the ghost (who appears as Kishan) does not offer him a drink of water. Lachchi's bliss goes on until four years later when she is pregnant and the real Kishan returns to see if the rumours about his wife's pregnancy are true. He returns to find the ghost in his (Kishan's) own form. Kishan's family is unable to determine which of the doppelgangers is the real Kishan (the ghost refusing to confess). They decide to visit the king so that he can arbitrate.

On the way to the king they meet an old shepherd, Gadariya (Amitabh Bachchan) who helps them out. He asks the real son of Bhanwarlal to pick up hot coals, asks the real husband to gather the sheep, and asks Lachchi's real paramour to enter a water-bottle. The real Kishan is found out and everyone returns home. Lachchi is devastated over the loss of the ghost. In the very end, it is revealed that the ghost has escaped the bottle and taken control of Kishan's body to live with her. By now Lachchi has given birth to a daughter, Looni Ma, by whom the ghost exposes his identity to Lachchi. The puppets end the story, remarking that this is a very old folk tale.



Paheli was shot entirely in Rajasthan (Jhunjhunu district) in a period of 45 days. In 2004, Amol Palekar went to Shah Rukh Khan with a request for a hearing. After listening to the script, Khan asked Palekar if he could produce it as well as star in it. According to Khan, Paheli is a woman's liberation film that deals with the issues of marriage and asks whether a woman must stay with a man only due to marriage and not out of love.[5] One of the scenes was filmed at the Chand Baori.[6]


Critical receptionEdit

Paheli was nominated as India's official entry to the 79th Academy Awards.[7]

Taran Adarsh from Bollywood Hungama gave it 4/5 stars and said: "On the whole, Paheli is one of the finest films produced in recent times. A film like this proves yet again that we don't need to seek inspiration from outsiders [read Hollywood], when Indian literature is rich enough to provide us with captivating stories."[8] Raja Sen from called it "A breathtaking dream", and said: "First things first, this is the best-looking Indian film in a very long time, and ranks up there with the finest ever. Amol Palekar has crafted a delectable fairytale that is incredibly well-shot. Ravi K Chandran's cinematography is spellbinding as he casts us into the fabulous sandscapes of Rajasthan with fluid harmony. Each frame of the film is picture-perfect, marinated in intoxicating colour. Watching Paheli is quite an experience, and it's from the very opening shot of the film that its sheer, magical palette overwhelms us."[9] It was featured in The ten best Indian films of 2005 list by, ranked third.[10]

Box officeEdit

Paheli saw 90% occupancy during its opening.[11] The film had a total net gross of 187.5 million (US$2.7 million) in India and an additional US$3.63 million in the overseas market. It was declared an "average success" in India but a "hit" abroad.[12][13] It proved to be a safe and profitable venture for its distributors.[14]


Soundtrack album to Paheli by
Released9 May 2005 (2005-05-09)
GenreFeature film soundtrack

The film's soundtrack is composed and produced by M. M. Kreem with lyrics by Gulzar. The soundtrack for the film released on 9 May 2005. Track listing

1."Dheere Jalna"Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal06:08
2."Kangna Re"Shreya Ghoshal, Madhushree, Bela Shende, Kalapini Komakali, Sonu Nigam05:55
3."Khaali Hai"Hariharan, Bela Shende05:58
4."Laaga Re Jal Laaga"M. M. Keeravani, Sonu Nigam, Shruti Sadolikar05:51
5."Minnat Kare"Shreya Ghoshal, Madhushree, Bela Shende07:25
6."Phir Raat Kati"Sunidhi Chauhan, Sukhwinder Singh03:45
7."Phir Raat Kati" (Remix)Sunidhi Chauhan, Sukhwinder Singh03:45
8."Dheere Jalna" (Instrumental) 06:06


Paheli received many awards and nominations.

Award Category Recipients and Nominees Results
National Film Awards Best Female Playback Singer Shreya Ghoshal Won
Filmfare Awards Best Male Playback Singer Sonu Nigam Nominated
Best Lyricist Gulzar
Zee Cine Awards Best Art Direction Muneesh Sappal Won
Best Film Processing R Mittal
Best Actor Shahrukh Khan Nominated
Best Male Playback Singer Sonu Nigam
Best Choreography Farah Khan
Best Cinematography Ravi K. Chandran
Best Costume Design Shalini Sarna
Best Publicity Design R D Parinja
Best Audiography Anuj Mathur
Star Screen Awards Best Art Direction Muneesh Sappal Won
Best Male Playback Singer Sonu Nigam
Best Actor Shahrukh Khan Nominated
Best Cinematography Ravi K. Chandran
Best Music Director M. M. Keeravani
Best Lyricist Gulzar
Best Choreographer Farah Khan


The film Paheli has resemblances to the screenplay of Kannada film Nagamandala. Paheli's director, Amol Palekar, was accused of plagiarising the screenplay and storyline from Nagamandala. However, Amol dismissed the accusation saying that Paheli was adapted from a short story Duvidha written by Vijayadan Detha which had earlier been adapted into 1973 movie Duvidha.[according to whom?]


  1. ^ a b "Paheli". Box Office India.
  2. ^ "'Paheli is a simple, loveable film'". 21 June 2005.
  3. ^ Mehta, Sunanda (19 November 2005). "Now showing: Bollywood to Hollywood, Paheli makes the moves". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 14 May 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  4. ^ "Paheli is India's Oscar entry". Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  5. ^ Paheli (Slide show), May 2005.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Paheli is India's Oscar entry". 26 September 2005.
  8. ^ Adarsh, Taran (12 June 2005). "Paheli: Movie Review". Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  9. ^ Sen, Raja (12 June 2005). "Paheli is a breathtaking dream". Rediff. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  10. ^ " The Rediff Year End Special 2005". Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  11. ^ " Movies: Bollywood box-office report". Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Box office 2005". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Top Lifetime Grossers OVERSEAS (US $)". Box Office India. Archived from the original on 6 October 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  14. ^ "'Paheli'". Planet Bollywood. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011.

External linksEdit