For 1977 film, see Paheli (1977 film).

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Amol Palekar
Produced by Red Chillies Entertainment
Screenplay by Sandhya Gokhale
Story by Vijayadan Detha
Sandhya Gokhale
Amol Palekar
Starring Shah Rukh Khan
Juhi Chawla
Rani Mukerji
Anupam Kher
Amitabh Bachchan
Sunil Shetty
Rajpal Yadav
Narrated by Naseeruddin Shah
Music by Songs:
M. M. Kreem
Background Score:
Aadesh Shrivastava
Cinematography Ravi K. Chandran
Edited by Amitabh Shukla
Distributed by Red Chillies Entertainment
Release dates
  • 24 June 2005 (2005-06-24)
Running time
141 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget 140 million (equivalent to 330 million or US$4.9 million in 2016)[1]
Box office 320 million (equivalent to 760 million or US$11 million in 2016)[1]

Paheli (Devanagari: पहेली, Riddle) is a Bollywood fantasy film, which released in India on 24 June 2005. It is a remake of the 1973 Hindi movie Duvidha. 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. The story has been previously adapted into film, Duvidha (1973) by Mani Kaul.[2]

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 his real-life wife Ratna Pathak Shah.

Enthusiastic young Lachchi (Rani Mukerji) is to be married to Kishan (Shah Rukh Khan), the son of the rich merchant Banwarlal (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 a riddle (hence the title "paheli") between the representation of all of her desires in the form of the ghost and her real husband. She takes this new, fond, 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 close the story, remarking that the plot is "an old story".



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 because of love .[5]


Critical reception

Paheli was nominated as India's official entry to the 79th Academy Awards.[6]

Taran Adarsh from Bollywood Hungama gave it 4/5 stars and said: "On the whole, Paheli is one of the finest films produced in the recent times. A film like this proves yet again that we don't need to seek inspiration from outsiders [read Hollywood], when the Indian literature is rich enough to provide us with captivating stories."[7] 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."[8] It was eventually featured in The ten best Indian films of 2005 list by, ranked third.[9]

Box office

Paheli had good opening and saw 90% occupancy, however the collections of the film quickly dropped.[10] The film had a total net gross of 187.5 million (US$2.8 million) in India and an additional US$3.63 million in the overseas market. It was declared a "average" in India but a "Hit" abroad.[11][12] Still, it proved to be a safe and profitable venture for its distributors specially after the good multiplex start.[13]


Soundtrack album to Paheli by M. M. Kareem
Released 9 May 2005 (2005-05-09)
Recorded 2005
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Length 44:53
Language Hindi
Label T-Series

The film's score and soundtrack were composed by the National Award-winning music composer M. M. Keeravani with lyrics by Gulzar. The soundtrack for the film released on 9 May 2005. M. M. Keeravani reused tune of 'Naadir Dhinna' from his Telugu movie "Okariki Okaru" for the song 'Dheere Jalna'.

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. The awards it won are highlighted in bold:

National Film Awards

Filmfare Awards


Filmfare Award for Best Playback Singer – Male – Sonu Nigam

Filmfare Award for Best Lyrics – Gulzar

Zee Cine Awards

Star Screen Awards


The film Paheli has resemblances to the screenplay of Kannada film Nagamandala.[14] 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 written by Vijayadan Detha. There is one more Hindi movie Duvidha based on same short story by Vijayadan Detha.


  1. 1 2 "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 as Oscars Entry".
  5. Paheli (Slide show), May 2005.
  6. "Paheli is India's Oscar entry". 26 September 2005.
  7. Adarsh, Taran (12 June 2005). "Paheli: Movie Review". Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  8. Sen, Raja (12 June 2005). "Paheli is a breathtaking dream". Rediff. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  11. "Box office 2005". Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  12. "Top Lifetime Grossers OVERSEAS (US $)". Box Office India. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  13. "'Paheli'". Planet Bollywood. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
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