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Most Jaideep Sahni scripts have certain trademark flourishes - the plot is almost always seeped into reality, there's richness of thought and, more importantly, there's a clearly defined milieu. Shuddh Desi Romance is no different. Sahni chooses to set his story about fairly progressive young individuals in Jaipur, not exactly a small town but far removed from the glitz and glamour of a metro, and weaves in the city's essence in his characters, their motivations and the plot itself. In one of his earlier scripts, Bunty Aur Babli, small-town youngsters look at the big city as their escape to freedom; in Shuddh Desi Romance, the independence lies within.
Alas, in spite of a great plot and a rollicking first half, Sahni and director Maneesh Sharma struggle to dot the i's and cross the t's, fumbling in the most crucial moments. It's almost heartbreaking, watching all that potential being squandered away, with unwanted complexities and a rushed resolution taking away some of the bite. Shuddh Desi Romance could have been the definitive film about the current generation, a sort of new-age Chashme Buddoor, but ends up only as a partly enjoyable rom-com.
There is quite a bit to cheer about, though. As Gayatri, Parineeti Chopra delivers a finely-nuanced performance, balancing her character's vulnerability and self-assuredness with flair. She's immensely lovable and attractive and, to quote a clich, steals the show every time she's on screen. Her scenes with Sushant Singh Rajput, who plays Raghuram Sitaram, are warm and fresh, and their camaraderie endearing. A lot of what makes them tick seems to have been captured on paper itself, like how Gayatri's dominance complements Raghu's lack of clarity on most things in life. While she wears the pants in the relationship, Raghu's the bumbling fool, one without any redemption, and Rajput never slips out of character. Raghu's uncool and is fully aware of it, and the actor ensures that comes across nicely.
After he runs away on the night of his wedding to Tara (Vani Kapoor), Raghu pursues Gayatri, a girl he met and kissed the night before his scheduled wedding. Gayatri finds it hard to surrender to a guy who left a girl at the metaphorical altar, but gives in to her attraction towards him. From then on, it's a constant conflict for the duo - their willingness to want to be with each other is always battling with their insecurities about the other one walking out. It's an interesting premise, and one that is very real and relatable.
However, it's the third wheel that acts as the deterrent, with Tara proving to be a rather unwanted complication in their partly shuddh, largely desi romance. Her character is poorly etched, her motivations are unconvincing, and the actor is the least efficient of the three main leads. If Sahni and Sharma had figured out a way to keep the focus on Raghu and Tara and yet put across the point the film eventually makes, Shuddh Desi Romance could have been a better, tighter film.
As a director, Sharma does well with the details, especially when it comes to outlining Raghu's relationship with both girls. However, while Sharma shows flamboyance with set-piece songs ("Gulabi", "Tere Mere Beech Main") and extracts good performances from a young cast, he fails to round things up neatly, and never quite goes all the way. Abid TP's production design and Sachin-Jigar's score complement the story well. Rishi Kapoor is, as always, an absolute delight.
Shuddh Desi Romance is most certainly a watchable film. Yet, it's also an opportunity lost at being the rare shuddh, desi film, one that could set the tone for the future filmmakers to follow. You'll have to make do with the romance, then.
By Aniruddha Guha on August 30 2013 8.53am
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Looks like Rish Kapoor is another actor who has done a fantastic job in the film ...what praises his work is getting in every review .I am happy for him.In a film with all youngsters , he has managed to hold his own ..
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