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Shuddh Desi Romance starts off well. The characters break the fourth wall and speak openly to us. They speak to each other in a casual fashion. Like how we would. They reject the cliches and everything they do is refreshingly romantic and coyly funny. Post intermission, things become a big fat mess. The characters don't know who they love. They don't know why they did what they did or what they want to do and keep running away. The makers ultimately run away from making a good film resorting to a convenient and shoddy escape under the illusion of originality. Shuddh Desi Romance ends up being neither romantic nor shuddh and definitely not desi, in any way. But that's not the point, is it? Jaideep Sahni and Maneesh Sharma want to uncover this facade of what is considered pure about romantic love. The problem is - the argument they pose is as puerile as puppy love.
If there is any film this year that sets up expectations with a good first half and then squanders it with the second, it is this one. Along with Ek Thi Daayan, this is the biggest disappointment for me. More so because the first half is absolutely fantastic. If this is what you call a progressive romance, then please give me big fat cliched romances like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani or Jab We Met. I'm perfectly happy with those. People blame the movies for ruining their love lives. It gives them too many expectations and a wrong idea of real life romance. Yes, sure. There are have been quite a few films recently that have challenged the idea of cinematic romance and made it more realistic. What this film tries very hard to do is challenge the idea of a realistic romance as well. Aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves?
Parineeti Chopra is one of the best things existing in the Hindi film industry today. I could even watch her do nothing for 2 hours on the big screen and she would still make it worthwhile. Sushant Singh Rajput has lots of potential to be an accomplished actor and a star. He shows promise yet again. Vaani Kapoor the newbie is just fine. Nothing great.
The songs in the film are wonderful. I love Gulabi and Tere Mere Beech Mein. For a film which has good actors, good dialogues and a good premise, it hurts even more to watch it all go to waste. Instead of "Intermission", it says "Bathroom Break". I chuckled. They use the toilet as a cheeky device throughout the film. Till here, I was going along with it but by the end there are one too many bathroom breaks and not enough story. Cigarettes and cold drinks and random motifs are all hurdles in a film that could have been so much more. Confrontations end up looking increasingly contrived.
Socha Na Tha (2004), Love Aaj Kal (2009) and Band Baaja Baarat (2010) were some great examples of a romantic comedy done well. Their idea of romance was both modern and formulaic, in a good way. It did not reject cliches, did not claim to redefine them but showed us a new facet to them. Shuddh Desi Romance's idea of revising the concept of marriage can be considered novel but what is says about it is simply nonsensical. It is utter hogwash and takes escapism in the wrong direction. Especially because the characters have absolutely no clue about who they are and what they want to do. What they need is a tight slap across each of their faces. Not a song at the end where they are cheerfully exclaiming "Shuddh Desi Desi Desi Romaaahnce". Give me a break. Not a bathroom break, thank you very much.
The first half is a 4 star film. The second half is a 1 star film. Yes, it is that bad. I hated hated hated the second half. I'm going to round it up to a 2 and a half. Only because the first half is definitely worth watching. It will become a cool fad to like this movie, especially for those who hate romantic comedies. But I'll pass that opportunity to be with the cool gang. I want to call it a good film, but something stops me. In fact, many things. Mainly, the juvenile conclusion it leaves us with in the guise of new-age romance makes me not want to recommend it. If you watch it, just don't take any advice from it and start acting up on it. You should know better.