If you were finding it difficult to wrap your head around the title Shuddh Desi Romance, then it’ll make much more sense after watching the film. The sarcasm/irony is evident, as there’s nothing ‘shuddh’ about this film in the typical sense. Indian love and romance (at least according to Bollywood) is supposed to be this pure, flawless thing, but here the characters and their relationships are the complete opposite. Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput), Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) and Tara (Vaani Kapoor) are three people stuck in a very different type of love-triangle, but to say anything more about their circumstances would be to give away a chunk of the story.
Does this new formula work? Here’s what we think!
First of all, writer Jaideep Sahni and director Maneesh Sharma need to get all the props for tackling the love story in a different way. Weddings are practically an indispensable feature of Bollywood films, but there’s something very refreshing about a movie that actually addresses the subject of marriage in a very honest way. Much of our society is built on the concept of marriage being the single biggest thing in a person’s life, but the institution may not be for everyone, and it’s important that more people realise that.
So when Raghu asks one of the girls if she’ll marry him, you almost want to clap when she retorts saying that he can kiss her if that’s all he wanted to do, he didn’t have to go to the extremes of proposing. A lot of these kinds of moments make Shuddh Desi Romance worth it – the irreverent attitude of the characters results in some funny lines and some great scenes.
To complement their characters, the actors deliver good performances. Rishi Kapoor has fantastic comic timing and expressions; he easily steals the show. Parineeti Chopra is super, particularly in the first half of the film – the role seems to suit her personality well, so she acts the part very naturally. Sushant Singh Rajput’s character may not appeal to everyone, but he does a good job of playing the flighty, confused, impulsive Raghu. Debutante Vaani Kapoor doesn’t have the meatiest of roles, but she does well and also reminds you a bit of Anushka Sharma‘s character from Band Baajaa Baarat.
And yet, Shuddh Desi Romance is a “not quite” for me, which was actually a huge disappointment. By the time the interval rolled around, I was enjoying the film (the pre-interval scene in particular is so good) and expecting much more. But it goes downhill, unfortunately. Post-interval is when Tara is in the limelight, but this was a character that wasn’t well-etched out at all. Her reactions to Raghu feel a little inauthentic, plus her entry into his life and their subsequent romance seem abrupt.
What really hurts the film, though, is the monotony of the second-half – after some time, it feels like the same thing is happening again and again. There are also a lot of dull moments in there – ‘bathroom breaks’, if you will – which just add to length of the film. While the point is evident, you really wish they had arrived at it sooner… and perhaps via a slightly different route.
Shuddh Desi Romance could have been so much – so much! – but it’s completely let down by its second-half. Worth a watch for its different concept and some decent performances, though.
With inputs from Amruta Khatvakar.