Movie Review: Shuddh Desi Romance (Hindi) 178

The latest trend in Bollywood are films with a small-town flavor. Recent examples include 'Raanjhanaa' set in Varanasi or 'Ishaqzaade' whose characters and story are set in a UP town. The days of the typical Mumbaiyya theme in Bollywood are gone for good. Maneesh Sharma's 'Shuddh Desi Romance' had the promise of presenting a bold take on love and relationships, set in the modern times, away from the metros.

Riding on the success of 'Band Baaja Baaraat' and 'Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl', Maneesh Sharma mixes up both the themes with 'Shuddh Desi Romance'. There is a bit on weddings, in-your-face dialog from his first film and the angle of multiple women from the second. But, unlike his first two films, lead character here, Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput) is an under confident, self-doubting and is mostly an aimless guy.

The film beings with Raghu's baaraat (groom's wedding procession) as he is set to marry Tara (Vaani Kapoor). With no real family around, Raghu dabbles with being a paid baaraati for the wedding planner Goyal (Rishi Kapoor) who is his mentor of sorts. During the off season for weddings, he doubles up as a tourist guide in Jaipur.

Included in the fake retinue is Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) whom Goyal masquerades as the protagonist's sister. Enroute, she and Raghu discover that they have a deeper connect for each other and end up kissing, one of the many kisses in the film. Consequently, Raghu abandons his wedding after excusing himself for a loo break.

Thereafter, Raghu starts living with Gayatri, pretending to the world that they are related as siblings, while actually being in a live-in relationship. Gayatri is portrayed as a cigarette smoking girl, who had an abortion from one of her many relationships.

Just as Raghu and Gayatri think of marriage, in come the toilets. Thereafter, Tara enters, complicating the mix and confusing Raghu into a choice between two women. What happens to each of these characters in the triangle forms the rest of the story, which attempts to put its best foot forward to making things comical.

The end result however is underwhelming. The best of 'Shuddh Desi Romance' is in its first half, with many humorous situations and funny lines. The characters too are endearing and there are no villains. But where the writing fails is when it doesn't bring about a connect with either of the characters or let you empathise with any.

For actor Sushant Singh Rajput, this role is markedly different from the passionate coach that he played in 'Kai Po Che' and does a good job as someone finding it difficult to commit. Parineet Chopra faced the prospect of competition from her cousin Priyanka's remade 'Zanjeer' releasing on the same weekend. However, 'Shuddh Desi Romance' seems to have won the initial battle at the box office.

Among the other actors, Vaani Kapoor, a model turned actress is impressive as the smart, uber confident girl who conveniently plays with simpleton Raghu. And by now, we seem to have gotten used to seeing Rishi Kapoor play the father/ uncle/ mentor role played to perfection. The other supporting cast, portrayed among his friends and baaraatis bring in the much needed comic relief to the film.

So, why does the small -town trend work? Most of the Indian populace still lives in smaller cities and towns. Even among the metropolitan city dwellers, a significant number of them are migrants from towns or are, at best, second generation city folk. While the appearances may have changed, many of us in India still retain a 'desi' flavor. On top of it all, it is they who bring in the bucks for movies and malls.

Verdict: Despite its promise, the film fails to impress as the plot gets derailed mid-way and so does its comedy. The film's lead women are deliciously written for cinematic charm rather than to reflect anything real. The most unpardonable of the plot blunders are the seemingly endless trips to the toilet, a hallowed venue for intense reflection on life's big decisions! Seriously, the movie could've been so much better.

Rating 4/10: Like a trip to the loo with humor & romance thrown in