I don’t know about you but for me a good film is like a tequila shot – I get giddy on it. And when a Bollywood film gives me a high, I feel like screaming from the rooftops. I loved Shuddh Desi Romance and I think you will too.
This film is a triumph for its director Maneesh Sharma, its actors Parineeti Chopra, Sushant Singh Rajput, Vaani Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor, but most of all for its writer Jaideep Sahni, who has done the story, screenplay, dialogue and lyrics. Jaideep gives us a love story that is at once utterly believable and utterly romantic; characters that we fall in love with from the first frame and dialogue that makes us smile even when situation is distinctly unfunny — like a groom abandoning his bride at the mandap.
There’s a lot of running away in this film. Shuddh Desi Romance is the very circuitous triangle between Gayatri, played by Parineeti, Raghu played by Sushant and Tara, played by Vaani. The first two are commitment-phobic lovers in the throes of a grand passion. Tara is the third leg but she’s no wilting wallflower either. She’s feisty, in control and goes after what she wants. The women in Shuddh Desi Romance are refreshingly strong but not strident. And in between is the irresistibly goofy Raghu, who is easily the most charming guide in Hindi movies since Dev Anand’s Raju in Guide.
Maneesh and Jaideep capture a slice of urban India that is stuck somewhere between modernity and tradition but the film works because it has a lightness of being. There is no sermonising here, just confusion, heartache and the inherent comedy of a society caught between the labels of love, lust, marriage, relationships. Sushant and Parineeti capture the nuances perfectly. There isn’t a false note between them and the chemistry is absolutely sizzling — watch their first awkward kiss in a moving bus — it’s equal parts sexy and funny. Debutant Vaani seamlessly fits in — her performance has ease, which is rare for a newcomer.
Shuddh Desi Romance loses steam in the second half — it’s almost as if, suddenly, Manish and Jaideep didn’t know where to take their story and characters. Also, I’m old school, so the ending left me dissatisfied. But that doesn’t take away from what has been accomplished here. This film is a dose of adrenalin.