This latest saga of young star-crossed lovers benefits considerably from the presence of older talent. Manoj Tiwari’s P Se Pyaar F Se Farraar is about the furore that follows the romance between Jhanvi, the daughter of an upper-caste politician, and Sonu, a Dalit. Jhanvi’s father Omveer heads a party that has an extreme reaction to inter-caste and inter-faith unions: it believes in capturing and executing offenders.

However, Jhanvi (Jyoti Yadav) is something of a rebel, and she picks a fine way to get back at her father by falling for Sonu (Bhavesh Kumar), a promising but impoverished javelin thrower. The romance unfolds over the consumption of sugarcane juice, but things get bitter as soon as the couple flees home. Neither is of legal marrigable age and neither seems to have watched films about the dire consequences of elopement, so it is hardly surprising when they suffer deeply for their rashness.

Omveer (Kumud Mishra) sets his attack dogs on Sonu’s mother and prepares to have his daughter and her lover killed. Omveer’s younger brother Rajveer (Jimmy Sheirgill) is more understanding of his niece and unimpressed by Omveer’s primitive reactions. Forced to prove his usefulness, Rajveer sets out to Delhi to track down the couple, who are hiding with Sonu’s relative Rajesh (Girish Kulkarni).

The movie is set in Mathura, and contains several allusions to the mythical love between Radha and Krishna. On the ground, however, more earthly matters are at stake – caste pride and family honour. Kumud Mishra is excellent as the menacing Omveer and Shergill is good as the suave brother who is seen as effete simply for suggesting compromise rather than slaughter.

The young leads, however, are too raw to generate empathy for their plight. The screenplay, by Vishal Vijay Kumar, makes a reference to Nagraj Manjule’s similarly themed Sairat and contains a complaint about its less effective Hindi remake, Dhadak. The fresh-faced young actors in Sairat made every step of their tragic journey believable, and nearly every film inspired by Sairat has suffered from the inability to find a pair of young lovers whose fate matters. So it is with P Se Pyaar F Se Faraar, whose lead pair struggles to summon up the emotions necessary to suggest the crushing of innocence.

The movie gives too much footage to the romance (the songs are time-wasting exercises) and has a bizarre detour to a hide-out in Rajasthan populated by stereotyped low-caste characters. The equivalence sought to be created between Omveer, who is as outraged by the attack on family honour as by the potential loss of his political career, and an opportunistic Dalit politician too briefly threatens to derail the movie’s premise.

The 132-minute drama fares best when it allows its more experienced actors free rein. The family dynamics within Omveer’s clan are far more interesting than the limp love story. The adults in the room, rather than the under-age lovers on the run, save the movie from predictability and inevitability.

P Se Pyaar F Se Farraar (2019).