Shuddh Desi Romance is no Band Baaja Baaraat but it definitely has it’s moments of fun and insight
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Writer: Jaideep Sahni
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra, Rishi Kapoor and Vaani Kapoor
Ah! Finally a film that doesn’t make its audience want to burn the screen down. Directed by Maneesh Sharma, our very own shaadi specialist (Band Baaja Baaraat), Shuddh Desi Romance is essentially a desi version of Runaway Bride, except its the groom who’s the one with commitment issues here.
Raghuram Sitaram (a consistent Sushant Singh Rajput) is a tourist guide and a small time crook who sells dupattas made by “orphaned children from Iraq” to unsuspecting Americans in Jaipur. He meet Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) on the way to his wedding and instantly falls in love with her. Given his rather shifty stance on marriage, it takes him no time to dump his would-be-wife Tara (Vaani Kapoor) at the altar and run away. Back in Jaipur, Raghu and Gayatri begin a rather adorable live-in romance, resulting in an eventual marriage proposal from Raghu. Except this time Gayatri isn’t sure and she sprints right away. Cue Tara’s re-entry where she teaches Raghu a lesson or two in humanity and what it feels like to dump someone. They fall in love to some okay-ish music by Sachin and Jigar. Just when Raghu’s made up his mind about marrying Tara, Gayatri returns, asking him to choose her.
By the end of the film every character has dumped and been dumped by the other at least once. What is interesting is how the film questions the idea of marriage, and actually makes it fun. Gayatri’s reluctance to commit to someone comes from her troubled past relationships, one of which left her pregnant and alone. Raghu, who works part time as a fake wedding baaraati, similarly can’t see honesty in an institution that is filled with nothing but lies. In a country so obsessed with matchmaking and weddings, what happens to characters like these? At one point Raghu even tells Tauji (Rishi Kapoor) the wedding planner and his confidant, that he should find himself another profession; the idea of marriage is about to die.
Particularly wonderful are the women in this film. Both Gayatri and Tara are independent and whacky in the way that people in real life are. They emerge far more intelligent and sorted than our hero who starts resembling a lost puppy by the end of the film. I cheered hardest in the scene where Tara tells her uncle off for defending her ‘honour’, asserting that she was no one’s responsibility and that he should stick his nose out of her business. Gayatri’s ‘safe-side’ attitude towards life similarly reminded me of so many of my friends.
While the first half of the film was impeccably paced and packed with some absolutely delightful dialogues written by Jaideep Sahni (who has also written the story and screenplay), the second half tends to drag on and there doesn’t seem to be any chemistry between Rajput and Kapoor. It is only the casual banter and unexpected moments of quirkiness between Raghu and Gayatri that make the film light up again much later.
Shuddh Desi Romance is no Band Baaja Baaraat but it definitely has it’s moments of fun and insight. Live-in relationships, marriage, and premarital sex, all are broached but never spelled out or made moral issues. True to Maneesh Sharma’s style, the characters use colloquial language which adds to the charm of the film.
A double thumbs up for this smart, light and breezy love story that starts with, but doesn’t end with a wedding.