Saturday, September 7, 2013


Release date:
September 6, 2013
Maneesh Sharma


Parineeti Chopra, Sushant Singh Rajput, Vaani Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor

Chanchal characters, ati random consistency... That’s what Shuddh Desi Romance is – a little sparkler of a film that fizzles out in the second half, with the heavyweight team of director Maneesh Sharma (Band Baaja Baaraat, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl) and writer Jaideep Sahni (Chak De! India) seeming not to know quite what to do beyond a point. When the going’s good it’s damn bloody good, but then it sadly peters out.

SDR stars Kai Po Che’s Sushant Singh Rajput as Raghuram, a Jaipur tourist guide and baaraati-on-hire who is torn between his love/attraction for fellow rental baaraati Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) and the woman he almost marries (Tara, played by newcomer Vaani Kapoor). This is a story of relationships, commitment phobia, the social compulsions that drive people to get married in India, hypocrisy, a woman who lives and loves on her own terms and a man who wants to be like her. The tone is set when Gayatri says towards the start: Shaadiyon mein poore Hindustan ki jhoot aur double standards nikal aate hai. And throughout the film we are reminded that sexual permissiveness is far more prevalent in India, especially seemingly-conservative small-town India, than we like to admit. We’re a nation in which it’s not unheard of for a woman to have sex with a man but cover up that aspect of their relationship by tying a rakhi on his wrist. We’re a nation that does everything but wants to pretend that we don’t.

It’s impossible not to like Sushant and his Raghuram, despite his dithering and his typical male concerns about Gayatri’s previous relationships notwithstanding his seeming open-mindedness. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Parineeti and her Gayatri even when the girl’s own confusion leads her to blame Raghu for her actions. Both actors dissolve themselves in their characters in a most captivating fashion. Sushant had shown himself to be a live wire in his very first film. Parineeti is a nuanced performer with eyes that glitter and glimmer and do a little dance every time she opens them. Vaani doesn’t possess their charisma, but she too is a good actress. Together, they give us a refreshingly different commentary on young, small-town India’s attitude towards relationships.

There’s so much to like in this film: the city of Jaipur feels like a real city and not a series of set pieces, even the tiniest roles are played by well-chosen actors, the music is a breeze, the lyrics are joyous and Rishi Kapoor as the avuncular caterer-cum-wedding-planner is irresistibly likeable especially when he’s worrying that he’ll go out business if marriages go out of fashion. It requires a suspension of disbelief to accept that an Indian boy, however guileless he may be, whether he’s from a big city or a small town, would simply assume that a woman who has allowed him into her bed would automatically be open to a live-in relationship, but Raghu and Gayatri are so charming in those scenes that it becomes easier to set incredulity aside. It’s a tad irritating that even someone of Sahni’s caliber uses cigarette smoking as the earliest indicator of a girl’s liberalism the way so many Hindi film makers do (Bollywood may not believe this, but there are ACTUALLY a ton of liberal Indian women out there who don’t smoke or drink!) but in the larger scheme of things this is a passing irritant. I mean, it’s hard to remain angry for too long with a man who can write songs like Tere mere beech mein, Chanchal mann ati random and Shuddh desi romance. Besides, it’s quite amazing that without a single sermon, the film manages to make the point that a romp between the sheets doesn’t come without responsibilities. Sadly though, once what had to be said has been said in the first half of the film, no one seems to know what else to say. This is a film that needed to be compact but instead unnecessarily stretches itself to 2 hours and 21 minutes.

Yash Raj Films should be vocally commended for having made the director and writer’s names such a prominent part of their promotional material. How many Bollywood production houses bother to give that kind of respect to writers? Interestingly, it’s the written word that both makes and breaks this particular project. Shuddh Desi Romance is brave all the way and bouncy up to a point, beyond which it just gives up.

Rating (out of five): **3/4

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
2 hours 21 minutes
Poster and videos courtesy: Yash Raj Films
Chanchal mann ati random:


  1. Totally Bakwaas story getting all great reviews. 2.5 stars only for outstanding Parineeti Chopra, pretty Vani Kapoor and enjoyable first half due to good direction and music. But pretty bad that 2 intelligent girls keep falling for a dumb good looking dude who runs away from his marriage and later asks the same girl how she had felt that time. Ok that these guys want to live together but why they keep running away on the wedding day time and again nobody knows. People run away from marriage only if they love someone else or if they are not interested in marriage in the first place. But here the guy agrees for the marriage, leaves his beautiful to be bride for some other girl whom he was not even sure of meeting again; & forget about proposing to her. Guys don't behave like this. They get married and later start an extra-marital affair if it works. Later one of the girls runs away when the boy seemed committal and then comes back again. WTF? She could have talked to him, cancelled their marriage and lived together without marriage. The other girl who was ditched on her wedding day wants the same boy to be her boyfriend again when they met later. ???? Normal girls would have just ignored him or given him a tight slap. In all there is nothing pure, desi or romance. It is a story of fake confused characters with videshi values who think physical bonding is romance. Where is the heart and where are the emotions that bind two people in love?

  2. must watch this movie really interesting.