Jaideep Sahni
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues & Lyrics

Movie Review
Shuddh Desi Romance : Koi Ek Thanda La Do!

Imagine a gorgeous film in which the city of Jaipur looks even more beautiful than the three very charming actors. Imagine technical brilliance which you’d expect from a Yashraj production. Now, club that with a super-smart script, boasting of an extraordinary sense of wits, which unfortunately on the story level remains unrewarding. Well, quite a confusion to draw sense out of this amalgamation. 

The way the lead characters love to ‘run’ (away) in ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ it can be considered third in line after ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ and ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’. Of course, it’s only a sarcastic exaggeration but that is what this film is - A sardonic take on modern-day love which, unintentionally, ends up postulating a grave generalization that the modern generation knows nothing of ‘a gut-feeling’ when it comes to relationships. 

Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput) is a small town boy living in Jaipur who doubles as a tourist guide and a fake baraati (that’s his side-profession and in the humble view of the reviewer who was born and brought up in the same city, such a thing doesn’t exist). The opening shot reveals that he has already agreed for an arranged marriage with a girl in another town. On his way to his wedding, he meets Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra, another fake baraati by profession) and falls for her. It seems though he keeps saying ‘I don’t mind (getting married)’, his decision making abilities are worse than a giraffe’s acting skills. ‘Tum Bachche Ho’ Gayatri tells him at one point of time in the film, and one would have been much pleased if the film was more of a ‘relationship-based-coming-of-age’ genre. 

So sharing a few moments in the bus with Gayatri culminates into Raghu deciding to ditch the beautiful bride Tara (Vaani Kapoor) and running away just before the varmaala ceremony. So far, comprehensible, even with minor logical flaws. The next event happens by chance as Raghu bumps into Gayatri in a crowded market and asks her for coffee straight away. He claims that he ran away from his wedding because of her and one scene later they are a live-in couple. A couple of peppy songs, half a dozen kisses and several cute moments are fitted in to capture the feel of ‘desi romance.’ However, it’s quite evident that it is also to cover up for a non-existent plot progression. At the interval point, there is again a Mandap and again, the same sad story repeats itself with a contrived twist which, if you don’t find funny, will make you sigh in disagreement. 

Second half brings back Tara to build some sort of a plot but one can easily guess that she is just there to give it a love-triangle kind of a touch and soon, Gayatri would reappear. The screenplay does the same, all too conveniently, after which you wait for the characters to finally sort out their heads. But it’s only at the climax when you realize that the point of the film was never about romance or finding love or even giving an insight about relationships but to establish the fact that the young generation is incapable of committing for a marriage. One assumes that the point which the film makes is more likely to meet divided opinions and thus, based on his or her personal thoughts on the matter, one will like or dislike the film. 

There are however other issues, purely at the script level, too. A set-up and pay-off of a particular dialogue is a classical story device and works great when used with a nice sense of timing. In Shuddh Desi Romance the script uses this element repetitively as stretched out identical sequences, apparently as a display of smart writing. So much déjà-vu for the audience neither fulfills the demand of the script for a solid structure nor gives the audience any ‘wow’ moments. Then, there is an overdose of the ‘alienation-effect’ in which the actors break the illusion of reality and talk to the camera (viewers). Here, the writer uses all the verbosity in the world to explain the state of mind of the characters and unfortunately, none of it serves any purpose. 

The comeback film of India’s one of the most celebrated screenwriters of recent times Jaideep Sahni, is less of romance, or love, but about making a point against the institution of marriage. Or maybe it’s something too ‘layered’ and just because the web of emotional confusion which it weaves around never withers away; it’s hard to decide either ways. 

Technically, the film is superior. The production design, locations, cinematography (Manu Anand), editing (Namrata Rao) and the bubbly music (Sachin-Jigar) is a big plus. All the actors, including the supporting cast, are good to look at and have done admirable work. It’s hard to ignore director Maneesh Sharma’s abilities which help him craft a picture that a chunk of the audience will surely like. 

But if you find this mushy, supposedly mature, take on love and commitment issues a bit baffling, follow Tara’s lead and do what she does in the film when she gets confused – “Koi Ek Thanda La Do!” 

   Dinkar Sharma


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