Live-in relationships are a commonality in the West, but it still raises eyebrows in India. It's often considered taboo and spoken about disapprovingly by the orthodox in towns and also by several people living in a metropolis. SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE is, perhaps, the first Hindi film that looks at live-in relationships and pre-marital sex in the heartland [Jaipur] of India. Sure, Yash Raj did have a look at live-in relationships in SALAAM | NAMASTE, but that film, if you recall, was set in Australia.
Maneesh Sharma, who helmed the immensely likeable BAND BAAJA BAARAAT and appealing-in-parts LADIES VS RICKY BEHL, is ready to undertake an uncharted trail in his third excursion SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE. This time, he talks of love, attraction and commitment in a real space. The question is, how open-minded are we today? With SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE, Maneesh makes a heartfelt attempt to decode and decipher several issues pertaining to intricate relationships.
True to its title, SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE is indeed a shuddh [pure] take at live-in relationships involving desi characters and looks at the highs and lows that come with it. Although the spectator has, over the decades, witnessed innumerable interpretations of love and romance, Maneesh and writer Jaideep Sahni make sure they don't take a leaf out of been-there-seen-that kind of situations. Instead, they ensure that the three characters in SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE follow their hearts and don't succumb to the diktats of the society. Also, they speak an uninhibited lingo, which hasn't been spoken in Hindi films earlier. They are not rebellious, but straightforward. And that, in all honesty, is the prime reason that gives this film an edge.
Writer Jaideep Sahni, who has penned films like BUNTY AUR BABLI, CHAK DE! INDIA, AAJA NACHLE and ROCKET SINGH: SALESMAN OF THE YEAR for Yash Raj, opts for a plot that's borrowed from slice of life. The characters in SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE mirror the mindset of several youngsters in contemporary times and how the meaning of love and commitment has undergone a complete change in the present context. The obstacles in the form of caste, religion and culture seem passé, frankly. Dating, pre-marital sex and marriage are three diverse issues, unlike earlier times, when matrimony was a beautiful culmination in a relationship… Armed with an unsullied plot and creative situations, director Maneesh Sharma breaks away from the conventional thought process and paints a picture that challenges the mindset of the conformists.
Additionally, everything that Maneesh and Jaideep attempt to convey through their characters in SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE looks credible and relevant. The good thing is, there's no preaching or sermonizing vis-à-vis who's right or wrong; it's more of a dialogue with our peers. You need to change with the times and cinema needs to grow as well. This film does exactly that without belittling the traditional beliefs. More significantly, all of this is presented in an entertaining format.
The only glitch in the otherwise smooth narrative is that the pacing slows down considerably in the second hour. Also, Vaani's stance is a little difficult to absorb. In fact, her exit — without offering any concrete reason — looks a bit unreal. However, all said and done, the commitment-phobic attitude of the new generation comes across very well in the narrative.
Sachin-Jigar's soundtrack garnishes the goings-on wonderfully. The gifted composers, who have delivered musical hits in the past, live up to the faith reposed in them. 'Gulabi' and the title track are infectious compositions. The DoP captures the rustic flavor with meticulousness.
After leaving a tremendous impression in his first Hindi outing, Sushant Singh Rajput wows you with a remarkable portrayal yet again. He brings a lot of freshness with his unpretentious and spontaneous act. Parineeti Chopra gets into the bindaas zone yet again, a role that's become synonymous with her of late. She seems to be going from strength to strength with every film. Vaani Kapoor is self-assured and doesn't seem overwhelmed by her skilled co-stars. Rishi Kapoor is, like always, in terrific form. Rajesh Sharma is okay in a cameo.
On the whole, SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE caters to the youth and reflects the mindset of a chunk of the youth these days. The film, which speaks a different lingo, is a gutsy attempt that defies the stereotype. Told in an entertaining format, it is sure to strike a chord with not just the youngsters, but also with those who love shudh [unchartered, in this case] storylines. Refreshingly different, give this one a chance. Recommended!