Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
Original title: Shuddh Desi Romance
India, 2013. Yash Raj Films. Screenplay by Jaideep Sahni. Cinematography by Manu Anand. Produced by Aditya Chopra. Music by Sachin Sanghvi, Jigar Saraiya. Production Design by Abid T.P.. Costume Design by Varsha Shilpa. Film Editing by Namrata Rao. Toronto International Film Festival 2013.
Gayatri is a girl who has known more than her fair share of disappointment in love and now gets paid to attend weddings in order for the hosts to boost the number of celebrants. At the wedding of Raghu and Tara, she and the entire group of guests watch in horror as he bolts from the altar in fear, just seconds before placing the garland around his bride’s neck. Raghu and Gayatri later meet and start a romance of their own, but don’t think that means smooth sailing from there: whatever nasty feelings he has about commitment are still bound to be there, not to mention that Tara isn’t completely out of the picture yet. Because it’s Bollywood, there’s also a host of delightful supporting characters, a richly colourful visual palette and a slew of musical numbers. The downside is that, despite a wonderful and attractive cast, the songs are forgettable and the plot barely rises above the typical expectations of a romantic comedy (which, at nearly three hours long, is difficult to endure). What makes it far more notable is where it strays from your typical expectations of Bollywood cinema, with themes of premarital sex and the hint of abortion (not to mention—GASP—cigarette smoking!) making it something of a challenge to barriers. Unfortunately that’s not enough to make it land.