Yash Raj Films can do small town, but it cannot do sexy. They can also give you films with colourful characters that walk the talk, but have little depth. Shuddh Desi Romance is a Jaipur set love triangle that explores the modern day choices of marriage, commitment, live-in relationships and arranged marriages versus love marriages. As the characters, namely Raghuram, Gayatri and Tara, debate the merits and demerits of the above, they sound like they are running through a Cosmopolitan magazine multi-choice quiz!
Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput) is a tourist guide and an odd-jobber. One of his jobs is to be fake member of a wedding party. His closest confidante is wedding organizer Gupta (Rishi Kapoor). On his wedding day, Raghu has cold feet and leaves his arranged bride Tara (Vaani Kapoor) at the mandap, garland in hand. The runaway groom is so confused that he flirts with another rent-a-relative on the bus to his own wedding. Raghu and Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) share a kiss on the bus, but after his disappearance from his own wedding they meet only weeks later and immediately move in together.
This, apparently, is the progressive new generation. Living together, sex before marriage, shared kitchen duties, no strings attached kind. And then Raghu proposes.
Can a girl trust a guy who ran away from his own wedding? Can a guy trust a girl who runs out on him? Will the girl who was ditched forgive the spineless no-hoper with messy hair and even messier ethics? Is it necessary to be shackled by the institution of marriage or can a committed relationship work just as well – if not better? These questions are relevant and might have made for an interesting and fun film if they had been asked indirectly and not like a literal cinematic interpretation of a market survey. Although writer Jaideep Sahni does capture some nuances, it’s hard to believe this script is by the same writer as Khosla Ka Ghosla and Chak De India. Instead Shuddh Desi Romance is verbose and listless.
There is no chemistry between the actors and Raghu is so weak a character that you cannot imagine why not two girls would want to marry him. Rajput also plays Raghu as a bumbling, confused chap, unable to add any layers in his rendition. Vaani Kapoor was confident in her debut but again too literally interpreted her holier-than-thou Tara.
Like all YRF films, the production design and costumes are notable. I found myself looking behind the actors, rather than at them – at the leheriyas, bandhinis, forts and Hawa Mahal. Only Parineeti Chopra managed to bring my attention back to her time and again.