Film: "Shuddh Desi Romance"; Cast: Rishi Kapoor,Parineeti Chopra, Sushant Singh Rajput, Vaani Kapoor; Directed by Maneesh Sharma; Rating: *1/2 (one and a half)
While watching light-hearted love stories also known as rom-coms, there are two reactions that come to mind. "What next?" And "Who Cares?" This annoying film, masquerading as a modern-day parable on What Young People Want, definitely falls in the who cares category.
The three main characters are so confused about life, sex, love and commitment(in that order) that you wonder why a film was scripted about them and their annoying lives in the first place. The "hero", if we may call him that, is not only commitment-phobic, but is quite simply impervious to any kind of gravity in life.
Don't misunderstand. He takes himself very seriously. But it's hard to take him seriously as he vacillates between two women, both equally absurd in their libertines' apparel borrowed straight out of some stale Julia Roberts-Susan Sarandon film which probably got shelved because the hero ran away with the cameraman.
This, then, is your "Shuddh Desi Romance", so contaminated with candour that it doesn't realize the difference between being sincerily searching and artificially scandalous.
Jaideep Sahni has written some remarkable films for Yashraj in the past. Among his best writing are Ram Gopal Varma's "Company",Yashraj's "Chak De.." and Dibakar Bannerjee's "Khosla Ka Ghosla".
Sadly, "Shuddh Desi Romance" ranks as Sahni's worst-written endeavour to date. The film has only three main characters, one of whom slips in and out of two women's lives as though he had seen Yash Chopra's "Daag" so many times that he knew that the tangle within the triangle would get resolved in the last reel.
"Shuddh Desi Romance" is not the kind of film that obtains or even seeks a decent resolution. The plot is happy to let the protagonist Raghu stew in his own orgasmic juices. The guy is plainly horny all the time. As played by the over-zealous Sushant Singh Rajput, the hero doesn't even try to hide his hard-on. He wears his libido like a badge of honour and flaunts his carnality in front of the two ladies whom he encounters.They for reasons best known to them, seem to enjoy his company after an initial bout of demurral.
Men are often to think with their dicks. But women???!!!!
It is baffling how a protagonist as low-life and sleazy as Raghu can attract two attractive feisty free-willed women. Or why they would encourage his advances when they know he thinks only with his ...well to use a term Rishi Kapoor uses with such endearing picturesqueness...pappu in the pants.
Pappu in the pants has rollicking time. Wish we could join him...it...whatever!!! Curiously the hero and his horniness are like two different entities in the film. No bumper prizes for guessing which of the two entities gets an upper hand in the script that seems hellbent on celebrating what, for the want of a better term, we must describe as low-life libidinousness.
For all his talk of "zoron ka attraction", Raghu, as played by Sushant, comes across as a wimpy womanizer, scoring brownie points with any woman who opens her mouth to let his tongue in. If the dick-head hero had been played by a more intelligent actor, he would probably have been interesting. In Sushant's hands, Raghu is an irksome skirt-chaser. Nothing more.
The two women are more interesting (aren't they always?). Especially Parineeti Chopra whose dumbly defiant smoking swearing character Gayatri acquires some stability through the actress' fearless embrace of the camera space. No matter how frustratingly ill-conceived Gayatri's rebellious attitude may be, Parineeti owns up to the character's weaknesses like a man.
Debutant Vaani Kapoor plays her very awkwardly-written character with a mysterious smile that suggests it knows something that we don't. Not that we care.
Both Sushant and Parineeti's characters and their grating chemistry are troubled by an uneasy sense of deja vu. Director Maneesh Sharma makes the two characters carryovers of Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma in "Band Baaja Baaraat".
Really, the twosome here should be put into a banned Baja Baraat. The wedding shenanigans so delectably unselfconscious in "Band Baaja Baaraat" here seem laboured to suit the director's purposes of creating a sense of nonchalant sexual liberation in a smalltown where every potential voyeur can peep into his neighbour's home without being charged with voyeuristic trespassing.
To the cinematographer Manu Anand's credit the authentic outdoors of Jaipur do not end up mocking the inherently mockable material. Most of the principal actors barring Rishi Kapoor give over-rehearsed performance projected as a laboured casualness.
Rishi Kapoor as the wedding caterer is the exception, sinking his teeth into his role even as our hearts sink to the ground at the self-defeating numbing verbosity of the three main characters.
Most of the film is like a clumsy radio play. The three main characters in this lust-triangle just speak and speak about their pathetic selflimiting world. Beyond a point we feel like reluctant eavesdroppers in an ill-managed menage a trois.
Flat and phoney, the selfconscious realism of the small-time gender-equations in "Shuddh Desi Romance" leave us untouched, unamused and cold.
In terms of pointless posturing, this one ranks even lower than Yashraj's "Neil 'N' Nikki".
Live-in relationships never felt less inviting.