In reference to “Shuddh Desi Romance”, let’s get the obligatory findings out of the way: Directed by Maneesh Sharma we have an aimless, emotionally simple and romantically befuddled youngster by the name of Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput), who gets cold feet at the day of his wedding and scoots via a trip to the lavatory. In contrast, there’s Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra), the girl he’s fallen for who shares his commitment issues on an instinctive level, and who soon becomes her live-in girlfriend. Much later, Raghu bumps into Taraa (Vaani Kapoor) – the girl he left at the wedding – and they become romantically entangled.

“Shuddh Desi Romance” has an innovative twist on the love triangle, spiffy songs, a mix of adequate to engaging performances (Mr. Rajput is adequate, Ms. Chopra is engaging, Ms. Kapoor is somewhere in between) and just about apt technical intelligence that doesn’t overpower the story Mr. Sharma has in mind. So at the very least, it has a few aces up its sleeve.

Now that the statutory analysis is out of the way, let’s talk a little about what’s really bugging me:

Making motion pictures, as any art-form, is about invoking a response – be it applause, anger or apathy. The measures of these reactions depend largely on the technicality, aesthetic and the underlying shrewdness (or the inherent pompousness) of the filmmaker. A motion picture is perhaps the most vocal means of communication – and with that come’s the question of morality. In the short run, endorsing indiscretion on wide-released ‘mainstream’ movies gives young, uncultured minds the wrong food for thought.

“Shuddh Desi Romance” is Mr. Sharma’s third venture after the near-brilliant “Band Baaja Baaraat” and the so-so “Ladies Love Ricky Behl”, and it builds on the strengths – and the misplaced tag of ‘boldness’ – of this new-age. The so-called ‘bold’ here translates into: comfort of unbinding live-in relationships, abandonment of adult advice, and the inherent naiveté of 2o-somethings.

“Romance” is metropolitan-city, multiplex fodder, and it is very much intentionally made on these skewered ground realties so openly endorsed by new-Bollywood. There is a new advertisement of a car on the idiot box, where a granny is shocked when the recently moved-in young woman answers that she is in a live-in relationship; the advert tells us that the car is for ‘bold’ people. While I cannot vouch for the intelligence of the people in the advertisement (their boldness being a different argument), the young leads running the show in “Romance” are both juvenile and imprudent.

Raghu is a tourist guide-cum-part-time baraati (wedding guest) for hire for Goyal (Rishi Kapoor, passable) a low-cost wedding planner; I doubt Raghu makes a decent living from either of his professions. Gayatri, as far as I guessed, also doubles as a part-time baraati, though her level of confidence – and Ms. Chopra’s performance of her budding internal conflict – is slightly more mature than Raghu’s.

So it comes as mildly confusing when both Raghu and Gayatri rely on outdoor lavatories as escape routes for pre-marital jitters (this also becomes a mildly amusing running joke). The reason of them getting cold-feet moments before tying the knot isn’t ever justified. There is a small, one-dimensional weightless argument by the climax on their reasoning but it doesn’t really help them, or the movie’s own sense of fulfillment.

At one point early in the picture, the two blatantly lie to the neighborhood people that they are brothers and sisters – which no one buys. This brings my argument about morality and the sacredness of relationships back full circle. Personally speaking, I would be more accepting to the screwed-up-youth-in-love angle if these characters had either the grit or farsightedness on the implications of adult life – which according to the characters on the screen, is almost laidback and without consequence.

Young love, I can understand (and endorse) easy. Debasement of relationships to avoid public disgrace, amongst other puerilities, is a drastic measure for yours truly.

The first world may disagree (the review in the NYTimes sees the movie’s values from early 1970’s America), but here in South Asia, it’s the orthodox bond of family that count, not the drastic need to escape its ideals.

Directed by Maneesh Sharma; Written by Jaideep Sahni; Produced by Aditya Chopra; Executive Producer Aashish Singh; Cinematography by Manu Anand; Edited by Namrata Rao; Music by Sachin-Jigar; Lyrics by Jaideep Sahni.

Starring: Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra, Vaani Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor.

Released by Yash Raj Films, “Shuddh Desi Romance” is rated ‘U/A’ (Universal/Adults) for drama and mild sexual situations – taking children to the movie isn’t recommended, no matter how broadminded. They might end up taking things too literally.

Mohammad Kamran Jawaid has been professionally critiquing movies for a while now – say more or less ten years, exclusively for Dawn. About 400 reviews and features later (he stopped counting a long time ago), not being as young as he was before, he still feels the urge to write for another couple of centuries.

Despite living movies 24/7 (his company (http://kamranjawaid.com) helps filmmakers make movies), he is still truly, madly, deeply in love with cinema; the root cause of this anomaly requires further clinical trials. His twitter (http://twitter.com/kamranjawaid) reveals very little about him, other than him being the Senior Film Critic for Dawn.com.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (28)

YoursTruly
September 12, 2013 1:59 pm

This is a review of the author's view of what constitutes good morality and what morals a 'South Asian' society holds on to and what morals they should hold on to. It is a not a film review! Bad journalism.

anil kumar
September 12, 2013 10:53 pm

"The first world may disagree (the review in the NYTimes sees the movie’s values from early 1970’s America), but here in South Asia, it’s the orthodox bond of family that count, not the drastic need to escape its ideals."--Yes , you are right ,but partly . For all Muslims of south-Asia and the world , it may hold true . Non-Muslims have moved forward . Whatever shown in movie is day-to-day scenario in non-Muslim society .Actually I was shocked to see such kind of statements in 20th century.

aaaa
September 12, 2013 11:03 pm

more then movie he reviewed live in relation

Deb
September 12, 2013 11:45 pm

Most average Indian movie is so retarded, that anything, anything that is made upon slightly saner script, dialogue and cinematography feels like a breeze.

This one, is among those movies, along with Jab we met, Pyar ka panchnama and Tere bin laden, to name a few.

Of course there are way too many loose ends. Don't expect anything new. It's a typical boy meets girl romcom. And the kisses won't excite you. Neither passionate nor smooth.

But, on the plus side, the hero doesn't beat up 20 guys alone, cars don't burst in three story high flames and the characters aren't teleported to Switzerland during songs. You can see that I am keeping my expectations to judge Indian content at a pretty low level here.

And the movie's funny. I mean actually funny, not "Indian laughter challenge" funny. One time watch.

Aakashvaani
September 13, 2013 7:17 am

Hello Kamran, you sound just as shocked as the granny who hears about the young woman is in a live-in relationship. As a journalist, is it your job to watch the direction of society or what sits well with it.

DK
September 13, 2013 7:49 am

Like everything else in Pakistan, this review too is laced with subjective morality and value judgements. Please don't speak for all of South Asia - many of us outside of your hallowed land are mere mortals and the lotus somehow manages to flower in muddy ponds.

Qaiser Bakhtiari
September 13, 2013 8:53 am

Time and again, it seems like that Dawn only reviews gaudy Bollywood movies to fill in space. There are wonderful movies being produced in countries like Argentina and Iran. Its time that Bollywood dumps its 'jhatkas' and 'matkas' to produce something substantial.

Vivig ShanthaKumar
September 13, 2013 10:20 am

this movie in my opinion is unwatchable unless you enjoy the thrill of kissing scenes and a plotless story.Please dont get tricked my the trailer, and by mistake dont even think of watching it

kafir
September 13, 2013 10:26 am

Very well written. Small time people will make anything just to see it run and bring money. The only stimulation we get is below the belt and all at the cost of moral values. Intellectual bankruptcy at its best.

BlaqueSmith
September 13, 2013 10:27 am

Shared on FB. The New York times ref intrigued me enough to google other reviews and sure enough there are many positive reviews for this movie. At least Dawn has enough sense to highlight the core problem with Bollywood movies today.

Almost every other movie is pushing the idea of discarding relationships, where in the past even if there was some illicit relationships going on it would be balanced by family values. This rarely happens today where all you see is Love Aaj Kal and Cocktail and other movies which make it ok.

Sanju
September 13, 2013 10:43 am

Making motion pictures, as any art-form, is about invoking a response – be it applause, anger or apathy. The measures of these reactions depend largely on the technicality, aesthetic and the underlying shrewdness (or the inherent pompousness) of the filmmaker. A motion picture is perhaps the most vocal means of communication – and with that come’s the question of morality. In the short run, endorsing indiscretion on wide-released ‘mainstream’ movies gives young, uncultured minds the wrong food for thought.

liked this line a lot

Rohit
September 13, 2013 11:57 am

As someone earlier pointed out, this review takes a philosophical stand. I however do agree to the reviewer's point of view. Cinema has a responsibility to reflect the ground realities rather than catering to a section of well fed, wealthy people. When my brother goes out to watch a 'Shuddh desi Romance' instead of a 'Gangs of Wasseypur'- I do feel hurt.

SamS
September 13, 2013 12:17 pm

The argument is about how this will influence us is Pakistan. One film will not make a difference but I understand what the author is saying as every Bollywood movie is promoting this ideal. Having relationships is ok but live-in relationships that Bollywood often shows us is still not considered good in Pakistan and it should not be promoted on mainstream movies because some of the youth may only pick up the wrong thinks by thinking it is alright.

SamS
September 13, 2013 12:30 pm

@YoursTruly: Is it bad journalism to talk about pertinent topics? Films are more than just entertainment or messages. If a film goes against morals then that should be highlighted.

Anupama Chopra who comes on Star World writes in her review that "I don’t know about you but for me a good film is like a tequila shot – I get giddy on it" Wow. At least we are not that culture. People in Pakistan are different. We hold our ideals more in check and even if a small percentage of us are more liberal minded then we should be thankful that a big percentage of us out weight them.

Anil
September 13, 2013 12:37 pm

Is this a review or a lecture on morality?

NDK
September 13, 2013 1:03 pm

"A motion picture is perhaps the most vocal means of communication – and with that come’s the question of morality. In the short run, endorsing indiscretion on wide-released ‘mainstream’ movies gives young, uncultured minds the wrong food for thought."

not every film is supposed to 'teach' you. Our young uncultured minds are already exposed to so many things in reality like 'actually seeing this happening' so there is no need to question this film.

Your article proves that you want certain things to remain a taboo like talking about having a relationship was a long time back but now its not. It is totally upto an individual to take decisions for himself. Stop being the moral police because nobody has given you this responibility.

Tina
September 13, 2013 3:44 pm

I thought this was a film review section. The lecture of morality and ethics shouldn't have been included.

And since you have started the topic, the youngsters don't get inspired of such films rather these films are inspired from the current mood of young people in the conservative society. Since the society doesn't give adequate respect to live-in couples, they have to portray something else.

You can be in favor of or against live-in relationships but you don't have the right to tell others what they should and shouldn't do

Ad Zad
September 14, 2013 4:25 am

@Qaiser Bakhtiari: Blame it on the distributors in Pakistan and the Public taste. The better movies of Bollywood never get released in Pakistan. Only masala movies. There is lkot Bollywood has to offer but unfortunately only masala movies are released in Pakistan. Dubai releases some good Bollywood movies since it has a large Indian audience which do give such good Indian movies and audience in addition to Masala bollywood movies

Riz
September 14, 2013 8:30 am

Good writing. Its good to see different opinion on so called modern way of living, especially when it's in a movie and its gets released globally and in every culture, so why shouldn't it be judged for its every aspect? I say it honest writing then anything else. And people should respect that.

Anita Deshpandey
September 14, 2013 8:39 am

This film was unwatchable. Very boring, lifeless and idiotic. Don't waste time on it. And its saddens me that we Indians are losing are cultures in exchange of western ideals. We don't shun our superstitions and cast diversions but are all on board for western sexual freedom. This film is so stupid, that it believes that Live-in are in norm in all of India when it is not looked upon them with respect at all.

Yawar
September 14, 2013 8:49 am

@Tina: The review is not forcing you to do and not do anything. It is just an opinion by the author and it makes a valid point. Do you not think it is hypocritical of India's own soaps that endorse family values and then your films say something totally different.

Yawar
September 14, 2013 8:54 am

@NDK: You are seeing it from a different perspective. It goes against values instilled in any culture. To be modern in this modern world is to simplify every aspect and mark anyone talking sense as taboo.

Yawar
September 14, 2013 8:56 am

@Rohit : Exactly Rohit because when I see other worthless movies getting this kind of hype I ask myself what is wrong with the world

Yawar
September 14, 2013 9:10 am

I am voicing my opinion after watching shudh desi romance and I cannot say that I disagree with most of the latter arguments in the review. I found Parineeti Chopra and Shushant very fickle. As the writer points out they do not have any reason not to get married.

The end scene where Rishi Kapoor talks to children about marriage with both of them even in the young age looking to run away by going to the bathroom screams volumes about the message this film instills. It is as if the director is telling everyone that it is alright if you never marry.

Freedom of expression is one thing but when everyone is hell bent on break whatever bounds of decency there is, like not knowing the value and weight of a brother sister relationship then I thank heavens that we do not live in a secular country where everything and every stance is morally ok as long as one is having a good time.

I also think everyone voicing their opinions are being hypocritical about this new trend that openly advocates physical relationships. Don't shows from Indian television push for family values? If so then then author is right when he says that "here in South Asia, it’s the orthodox bond of family that count, not the drastic need to escape its ideals."

Ali Ahad
September 14, 2013 12:46 pm

I so much agree with the reviewer, not just because of the moral obligations and other things but because now a days movies are becoming so preachy .. live it your way, type .. i know living my way matters .. but what also matters is society, norms and family .. one day every i love ot my way type person realize this .. bieng rebellious is not bad if its for good,.. promoting something that a very minor fraction of society adopts as the correct way is something stupid .. i guess there are more terrorist, criminals and rapist in this world than i live it on my terms people, infact many of them are i live it on my term people .. should we start promoting their concept .. look, explaining whats going on in society is one thing but mixing wrong wth right is another

Samar B
September 14, 2013 6:55 pm

There is nothing paternalistic in frowning upon a movie that seeks to legitimatize a relationship that is outside of the legal or moral values that a society chooses to abide by. Unbridled, glamorized westernization allures the youth of this region into blindly aping the west, in their efforts to be seen as upwardly mobile, liberal or westernized. The cost of jettisoning their society's values is rarely considered by these immature minds. As somebody else pointed out, a filmmaker may put any sort of trash to make money and is least concerned about the damage they do to youth.

Poovhen
September 14, 2013 9:11 pm

Marriage is a social construct. Its practice or lack of it cannot be a yardstick for morality. Any other construct that produces a healthy, sustainable next generation can succeed too. If some traditional or cultural or religious dogma gets in the way, they will be brushed aside in a natural way. This is the underlying basis of all social systems.

Jugnoo
September 15, 2013 12:40 pm

The movie Sucks.... No story, no acting,, nothing to appreciate...

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