Director Maneesh Sharma is back with ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’. With a promise of almost being a cross between his last two offerings, ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ (2010) and ‘Ladies vs Ricky Bahl’ (2011), this latest film stars Parineeti Chopra and Sushant Singh Rajput in lead roles and introduces Vaani Kapoor. Early promos portray a very colourful, vibrant and out-of-the-box movie which should strike a chord with the youth audience. However, will ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ tick the boxes further to that or will it prove yet another miss with the masses?
Raghu (Singh Rajput) is a tour guide in Jaipur. He also makes extra money by being a baraati for Goel (Rishi Kapoor). When Raghu’s wedding is arranged, he develops cold feet on the way to the occasion when he meets Gayatri (Chopra) who he instantly believes himself to have a connection with. Raghu becomes a runaway groom, leaving his to-be wife (Kapoor) standing at the mandap. When two weeks later, Raghu bumps into Gayatri again, he tells her how he feels and the two begin a live-in relationship. All goes well until the day they are due to get married and one of them has major doubts.
It has to be said that ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ very much carries the stamp of Yash Raj Films from beginning to end; clean-cut scenes, well-etched out characters and a director which brings it all together to look appealing. The wedding planner backdrop brings a much-needed buoyancy to a plot that seems to fluctuate more than is necessary. In fact, in many ways, the movie is indeed one for the youngsters what with the numerous kissing scenes and attitudes that wouldn’t suit a traditionalist Indian view on marriage and relationships for the want of trying. Sharma brings the characters to life to fit in well with each other when needs be but it is when things fall apart by the plentiful that the plot almost seems to collapse bit by bit. The first half is indeed stronger than the second, the latter becoming extremely difficult to have any identifiable factor to the characters which seem to make lifetime decisions as easily as they breathe, arguably.
The lack of strength in the storyline is helpfully and expertly disguised in performances by both Singh Rajput and Chopra. The two absolutely shine in their respective characters, making every action and encounter as believable to real life as possible. Singh Rajput especially stands out as the vulnerable, indecisive and sucker-for-female-attention Raghu which is in a different light to his debut, ‘Kai Po Che’ earlier this year. Chopra, it was reported, plays a more sombre role in ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ than what she has played in her previous two films. For comparison’s sake this is true but her natural ability to light up the screen even by just being present in a scene is something that is a huge plus-point for her as an actress. Maybe this is why Kapoor’s presence in the movie as an important part of the storyline seems to get overlooked in the grand scheme of things because Chopra is the one an audience’s eyes are constantly searching for. Kapoor’s performance is, nevertheless, commendable for her first. Rishi Kapoor comes in as supporting actor in all the right places, providing a relief for both protagonists and a catalyst almost in their individual and conjoined stories. Following on from his last offering, ‘D-Day’ (2013), he manages to take the audiences back to what he’s known for best – the cuddly, do gooder.
‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ is exuberant enough to hold its own but seems to drag very much in the second half even though the first half leaves you excited for the twist in the plot. The performances of Singh Rajput and Chopra, in particular, are reason enough (perhaps reason solely) to give this one a watch. Unconventional as it may be for a love story, it has all the ingredients for a new-aged audience to embrace a change in attitudes towards marriage, however, whether it sees a good innings in the long run is debatable.
BizAsia Showbiz rating: 3.5/5