We live in troubled times. Where relationships are messy, marriages fall apart, people fall in and out of love and arranged marriages are almost a joke. Only that not many Hindi films would dare to say it out aloud. Because it does not make good business sense to make fun of what’s at the core of the great Indian family — the arranged marriage. Nor does it make commercial sense to show the youth the mirror — of how messed up and fickle they have become... who wants to be shown like a confused dolt on the big screen, right?
But this is modern India in all its hypocritical glory and full points to writer Jaideep Sahni, director Manish Sharma and producer Aditya Chopra for not holding back the punches and going all out to show us how the young are more confused than ever when it comes to relationships they forge and the arranged marriages they are forced with. Jaideep wrote about doing the right thing in Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year, straight from the heart, Maneesh Sharma explored the behind-the-scenes of wedding planning in Band Baaja Baaraat and Aditya Chopra had explored this arranged marriage dynamic in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Between the three of them, they have all the understanding of how business and marriages work in India.
Significantly, Sahni’s story is not set in cosmopolitan Mumbai or Delhi. It’s set in Jaipur, which is a fair city that represents tradition, modernity and business that drives India. Marriage Contractor Goyal (Rishi Kapoor) is the personification of the well-wishing sentiment and the good old-fashioned pressure of “When are you getting married?” The hypocritical, confused hero Raghuram Sitaram (Sushant Singh Rajput) represents the Indian groom filled with doubt and terrified of regret, Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) is the modern independent impulsive Indian girl and Tara (Vaani Kapoor) plays the family-centric girl with aspirations of being truly independent.
So if you find the proceedings funny and farcical, it is only because that’s the idea behind the cheekily titled Shuddh Desi Romance that packs in enough kisses, premarital sex and meaningless wedding rituals to show us the latent hypocrisy of the gossip-mongering society.
Yet, it is not completely cynical either. It has a solid heart, powered by a terrific Parineeti Chopra as the girl showing considerable spirit and spunk despite having her heart broken “three or four” times. Sushant plays a rather unlikeable protagonist a little too convincingly that you wonder why would an independent girl like Gayatri fall for a guy like him. Debutante Vaani underplays the role devoid of dramatics that she almost sounds flat. And Rishi Kapoor once again makes the most of the limited role.
If this film makes you uncomfortable or uneasy, it is because this is not the escapist feel good cinema Yash Raj Films is associated with. This is a reality check on the state of affairs, narrated crisply (Editing: Namrata Rao) like a joke, tongue firmly in cheek.
One of the bravest, boldest films Yash Raj Films has ever made.
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Sushant Singh Rajput, Vaani Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor
Storyline: A boy, on his way to his wedding, falls in love with his co-passenger.
Bottomline: A farcical romantic comedy about modern romance and the growing irrelevance of arranged marriages
Keywords: Shuddh Desi Romance review