It took me two days to make up my mind about Shuddha Desi Romance. Its promos were promising and yet I could never trust Indian film-makers especially the commercial ones to tackle a subject as foreign and yet very-much-around as Live In relationship sensibly for what it is – a choice of living your own life. After spending Rs. 350 in a multiplex, I have come to repent my choice. My gut feeling was right about everything that could possibly go wrong with such a film & SDR failed to make a point let alone impress!
So it’s a story of two young ones, the boy - Raghu – conning tourist guide in Jaipur & an orphan & the girl -Gayatri– an IAS hopeful (I almost choked on my Coke) & parents-intolerant (you know as in lactose intolerant types). These two meet in wedding procession of none other than the aforementioned boy & sparks fly! The kissing spree begins here. Raghu’s commitment phobia now fueled by an animalistic (no other word after those kisses) attraction towards his ‘rented’ sister gets better off him & he bolts from his wedding leaving his never-to-be bride asking for Coke (as in Coca Cola) to calm her nerves. To his credit, he does see how beautiful she is & yet marriage means commitment that he cant handle, for now. 2 weeks later, his rented sister - Gayatri corners him into a store & they start dating. Of course they don’t mind sleeping together on their first date & without much ado Raghu gets his boriya-bistar to her home and voila! They are in Live-In relationship – Just like that! And like it always, always happens, once they are done with their song & dance ritual, doubts creep in. Raghu is jealous of her colorful past. The very things that impressed him about her - her chain smoking & her Open Book lifestyle where she can count her boyfriends one after the other & give him a one line run down on each. e.g one was funny but too funny. You don’t want to marry Charlie Chaplin. Second was perpetually horny so she dumped him for having no brains (!)! - start to bother him. On her part, she conveniently forgets to tell him about the third one that got her expecting! Later, these love birds, in a drunken stupor overcome their phobia & decide to get married & as part of the divine justice, Gayatri elopes. You feel less than sympathetic with Raghu as you just have, in previous scene, watched him considering doing the same thing to her. Enter the Ex – Tara. A modern girl, almost out of league for Raghu, saves his ass from beating in a wedding. They start dating after she asks him in what is considered a cool way if he would like to be her boyfriend. You could almost see him wiping drool off his chin! What follows after is so confusing that I actually stared at the glowing red Exit sign in the auditorium for one complete minute to get my thoughts on track. I wish I hadn't gone alone to watch this movie. I really needed someone to bitch about it the moment it ended.
Some well deliberated questions:
- - Is commitment phobia something you are born with? You know as in you are born Gay. Because no other explanation is provided in the movie as to why these two characters are so jumpy about getting married. They have not been married previously or haven't fought a multi-million dollar divorce or custody battle etc etc. It makes them almost comical.
- -They killed off everyone’s parents except Gayatri’s – they stay in some faraway village to be bothered about who their daughter is staying with. And of course her parents don’t call as often as mine did so they would never know what’s happening in the city. Mr.Writer – there you took the short-cut OR you implied Live-In relationship is for orphans or for those not tied down by family. Wrong again!
- - Isnt it common sense for you to want to search the person you fled four own wedding for? Raghu does nothing of that sort. If Gayatri hadn’t chanced upon him (as script would have it), they would practically never meet. Is that what happens to the ‘Control Ke Bahar Ka’ attraction in two weeks!
- - Living In these days is considered akin to civil union. There are legal aspects to it just like getting married. In my organization, I can claim medical insurance for my live-in boyfriend if I can prove the nature of our relationship and if its at least 18 months old. While doing that, I need to prove that we both are financially supplementing each other & our home. (Yes, I was shocked too when I read it the first time in HR policies!) But of course, our hero heroine are too busy copulating to think about medical insurances, rent or other ‘practical’ aspects of such life.
- - Once bitten twice shy isn’t true for our IAS hopeful (and therefore somewhat brainy) heroine as she indulges all her fantasies of open roof sex and what not with a stranger whose past, sexual or otherwise remains obscure, never thinks about contraception or the possibility that there could be consequences i.e. pregnancy, STDs etc. Though I agree the pregnancy scare would have made it too clichéd but a sensible or even teasing discussion about this very important and practical aspect would have supplied some credit to this drama.
- - Gayatri blames her elopement on Raghu’s non-trusting nature but what is trust? How do you define it in a Live-In relationship where you always keep the door open (as they discuss in the end) for your partner to walk out? Is Don’t Ask Don’t Tell synonymous to trust? That made me laugh – that scene where she hits him, crying and accusing him that he would never be able to trust her. For me, trust is when you bare open your life to other person with its most grievous mistakes & your shortcomings instead of hiding them in the name of ‘starting afresh’. It sounds utterly unconvincing & stupid when Gayatri mouths those lines.
- -They share a bed & that’s how they start to Live-In. Very unfortunately this is what Indian movies reduce it to. That was my worst fear before I booked the ticket & it came true! Live-In relationship has to have something other than just sex. It’s still a relationship WITH commitment. It does not welcome promiscuity by the virtue its nature. You still are answerable to each other. The only thing it does not have is the need for divorce if you part ways. A girl can still lodge a complaint in police station and have the guy arrested if he wants to get his hands out but she doesn’t. Its not as easy as the movie makes it look & sound. What it shows is the 'cool' part but not all the trappings that it comes equipped with.
- - So the guy left you at the altar. You want revenge and you want it bad so you start dating him & then midway you forget all about the revenge and sleep with him unapologetically and giggle about it?! That was the track when I was staring at the Exit sign. Tara tells Raghu how she pressurized everyone at her home after Raghu’s disappearing act and got into an Air Hostess academy & carved a career for herself. I was kind of getting impressed with her and then bam! In the next scene she confesses to simply running to Jaipur to avenge him. “Oh I am not an air hostess. I just come to airport, look at the cute pilots and eat something on my way back home” – How in the name of god you manage this if your parents are dead & you have lived an orphan’s life at your uncle’s? Am I the only one who feels bogged down by such questions? And for that matter, I don’t know how Gayatri and Raghu survive Rs.90-per-KG-Onions economy by the meager jobs they do? Shouldn’t these people be worried more than average about the money matters?
- - In the end both, Gayatri & Raghu decide to get married, supposedly because Raghu feels she is The One. Really? Once Gayatri leaves, It doesn't take him more than a week to propose to Tara for marriage and a week after that to do the hanky-panky! Wouldn’t you wait for The One or try to find her or at least want to seek revenge for the cowardly act?
- - And eventually they do totally opposite of what they set out to do! They offer explanation for their choice. They offer justification and that’s where you lose remaining sanity & reason. So arranged marriages are fake, they are cumbersome, they feel like compulsion. Marriage in general means closed door! And since these two characters moonlight as ‘rented baratis’ they see it happening every day (!?!) and hence they shit bricks at the thought of getting married. What utter bullcrap! These two haven’t been even shown interacting with people whose marriage they are rented for. They simply wear blingy clothes & dance with abandon and THAT changes their views on marriage so drastically? So if people rent baratis (why would they do that is my question in first place), their union is fake? Wasnt the whole point of this non-sense drama to show how its done without offering any justification and as the natural course a relationship might take when you are 'serious' about each other? You as an audience cant help but ask if they got confused between One Night Stands & Live-In relationship? They are not the same!
All in all, this movie is utter disappointment! Even the kisses, so hyped, suck so badly. They look ‘forced’ and utterly sloppy! The Tejwala attraction is not to be seen anywhere. Sushant is unbearable with his goat-like voice. He whines and he whines so much that it grates on your nerves. An average Indian guy would very rightly wonder what’s in this guy for these two beautiful and hot girls to follow him wherever he goes (and Rishi Kapoor’s character asks him that at one point). It is just me may be but I have had enough of Parineeti Chopra’s bubbly roles. There is a very very fine line between bubbly cute & irritatingly loud! And finally the writers -You can be unapologetic, free and a spirited woman without being a motor-mouth! And Indian movies, seriously GROW UP! Having multiple sex partners (I hate to call them boyfriends or partners in general cause the film never touches on the emotional or companionship part of these relationships) does not mean ‘You are living life on your terms!’ enough of that bullshit already!
The way this movie was publicized in India with their polls on merits of Live In relationships & cons of marriage (especially arranged marriages), you would think they were breaking the stereotype but when they, in a way, imply that only a girl with a very colorful past (someone we would call ‘gone case’ in our native Mumbaiyaa style) can be in a Live In relationship, it’s all lost! So for all those,homely ones, Live In relationship aint for you!
I may not have first hand experience of this but this movie riled me up so badly because my best friends from Ruparel - one Sindhi & other Gujrati were in Live In Relationship for 5 years before they decided to tie the knot. There was no fuss. There were no explanations. The rest of our gang came to know about it one day (while it was night in Germany) when we called his landline and she picked up. They fought, separated for few months, dated other folks and got back together. They decided to get married so as to provide a stable environment for their kids when they happen& for their families (which did kick a fuss for some time, funnily less for the Live In part and more for the intercast-ness of the match!). I have spoken to them at times & have seen how deliberately they moved ahead with each step without being melodramatic towards it.
My verdict - Refrain from watching this movie! This is Shuddha Desi Bakwas!