Rating : 3.5/5
Genre : Romance
Year : 2013
Running time : 2 hours 6 minutes
Director : Maneesh Sharma
Cast : Parineeti Chopra, Sushant Singh Rajput, Vaani Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Rajesh Sharma
Kid rating : PG-15
The trailer promised a new age romance in an old historical town. “Shuddh Desi Romance” does live up to this promise, although in a less sparkly fashion than I had imagined.
Raghuram Sitaram (Rajput) is a tour guide who also works as a baraati-on-hire at Goyal’s wedding caterers. At his own wedding, Raghu develops cold feet and discusses his quandary with baraati-on-hire Gayatri (Parineeti). All that ends with Raghu running away from the wedding mandap leaving his to-be bride Tara (Vaani Kapoor) in the lurch. Sometime later when Raghu and Gayatri meet, they find that the fleeting attraction they experienced at Raghu’s wedding has burgeoned into a “zoron ka attraction”. They start a live-in relationship with no expectations of marriage. At a rocky point in this relationship Raghu meets Tara again. She is confident, saucy and lovelier than before . . .
This film questions the social practice of marriage – the why and the what. As Raghu tells us in his narrative, everyone wants you to ”settle down” – all else will come later. Raghu himself is not sure he wants to get married. Independent girls like Gayatri don’t fit neatly into this equation either, so when Raghu moves into her barsaati, he tells all the nosy neighbors that he is her “brother”.
“Shuddh Desi Romance” nicely captures the atmosphere of a culturally rich, historic town with authentic sounding characters and dialog. Raghu is a lost young man and can’t tame his wandering heart – something we culturally allow (and romanticize), whereas the girls must remain “untainted” and when they refuse to toe the line, like Gayatri does, they get a “reputation”.
While Raghu almost perpetually has the look of a deer-in-the-headlights both Gayatri and Tara appear confident in their needs and wants. I had a hard time believing that someone as beautiful and confident as Tara would readily agree to be wedded to a “tour guide” in classist India. The Raghu-Gayatri romance was more believable although I wasn’t over-joyed at the pairing. Love being blind would have to explain that attraction, or why would smart girls like Gayatri settle for intellectually inferior and immature boy-men like Raghu?
The cast does well; I was more impressed by the two girls Parineeti and Vaani that by Rajput. Parineeti is a wonderful actress, and Vaani makes a supremely confident debut as Tara. I felt for both Gayatri and Tara, struggling against their society-assigned “good girl” roles. Rajput is not a looker, but did well-enough in Kai Po Che. Here, he is stuck with the bemused I’m-out-of-my-depth look, which looks cute only the first couple of seconds. Rishi Kapoor is a little hammy as portly caterer and father-figure of sorts Goyal, and I though he was miscast. Rajesh Sharma has a small role as Tara’s mamaji, and excels in his short screen time.
The film has a novel plot, but is a little slow and uni-dimensional. There’s only so much I can take of lovey-dovey scenes – there’s more to a relationship than nuzzling in bed, and the script doesn’t take the opportunity to develop the characters beyond the bounds of the love-story as fully as it could have. I was a bit bored of the slow pace; the film has a running time of 2 hours, but they could have shorn off a good half-hour. What I did like in the film was the way the characters “talked” to the audience in little asides, relating to us their point of view – very nicely done. The music is very good – the title song, “Gulabi” and “Tere Mere Beech Mein” are some of the loveliest songs I’ve heard this year.
Kidwise : Lots of kisses/love making/adult situations. Film might be allright for older kids (15+).