Bollywood movie review: Shuddh Desi Romance
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Gayatri, on the other hand, knows exactly what she wants from life. She is an independent woman – and the man of the house – figuring out living expenses, insisting that her live-in boyfriend takes turns cooking and is unapologetic about having had relationships in the past.
These are characters poles apart from their Bollywood stereotypes. They don’t make a big deal about their love life, dealing with it as casually as one would drink a beverage or smoke a cigarette – at least on the outside. All this bravado ends when it comes to marriage.
Raghu and Gayatri take turns running away from marriage. When Raghu ditches Tara at the altar, he and Gayatri end up in a live-in relationship.
In the film’s first half, writer Jaideep Sahni and director Maneesh Sharma depict the flowering of a relationship with panache. Raghu and Gayatri find their way around each other, alternating between suspicion and trust, and an all-consuming lust. The writer and director weave a lovely background in the city of Jaipur, merging its modernity with the straitjacketed thought process typical of the Indian middle class.
When a drunken Diwali night leads to a warped proposal, Raghu and Gayatri find themselves about to get married to each other, at a time when neither is enchanted by the prospect.
Sahni, who pens some sparkling dialogue, explores the dilemmas the new generation must face when it comes to love – a witness to arranged marriages, told that marriage is the ultimate goal in life, and yet aware that the formula may not always work.
The first half of Shuddh Desi Romance is racy enough to hold your attention, but then it loses steam. The director’s technique of getting the characters to talk to the camera is jarring – almost as if he is too lazy to reveal their motives through action.
This is a film that will require a bit of patience as it trundles towards its conclusion, but spare some time and you will be rewarded with a fresh take on love that you haven’t seen in a long time.
(Follow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay)