Friday, September 25, 2009

Whats Your Rashee

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 25th Sep, 2009
Time : ~220 minutes
Director & Co-writer : Ashutosh Gowariker; Co-Writer : Naushil, based on the novel Kimball Ravenswood by Madhu Rye; Music : Sohail Sen
Starring : Priyanka Chopra, Harman Baweja, Aanjjan Shrivastava, Darshan Jariwala

I think it’s the weight of expectation, after all its an Ashutosh Gowariker film, that makes us first pick the flaws rather than applaud the things he got right. So, true to my nature, I will go against the trend and begin with the positives. First, you’ve got Priyanka Chopra, who does manage to infuse life into some startlingly different characters. You’ve got quite a few funny moments, the tone is light hearted through out and some genuinely unexpected ‘twists’. And I never thought I would be saying this, but my biggest fear from the film, what I thought would be the biggest liability, Harman Baweja, proved to be unfounded. He was actually good, not brilliant but good enough to impart some credibility and likeability to his character.

The story itself is interesting, derived from a book and a old Doordarshan serial called Mr Yogi. A Gujrati NRI (Harman) is called back to India and told by his family that he must get married within a few days, to enable him to inherit some land from his maternal grandfather and then pay off some debts the younger brother has racked up while dealing in shares. Harman agrees reluctantly and then decides that instead of meeting the 176 women who responded to his matrimonial ad (inserted by his mama, well played by Darshan Jariwala), he will meet only 12 women, one per zodiac sign and then decide.
So he meets them, twelve women all played by Priyanka and then in the end he chooses. Different sub plots involve a Mafiosi, who is one of the lenders. And also the mamu’s extra marital dalliance and his wife’s suspicions thereof.

There are some genuine surprises amongst the twelve characters played by Priyanka. She gets a lot of the detail right – slouching in some cases, oozing sensuality in others, being naïve in one character, a dominatrix in another and a bit flaky in a third. I don’t want to give anything away in terms of actually describing the zodiac roles as the element of surprise is what keeps you going through a lot of the film.
The humour, as mentioned above, is very good. There is one instance where Harman announces his name, Y B Patel, to get an unexpected response. Another where the innocent question, who is your favourite film star, gets a predictable response (‘Tom’) but its not who we think it is. There was a rich jeweller who proudly kept reiterating his shop name and the fact that it had no branches. And an interesting perspective was offered on Harman’s inability to eat a gola / chuski, with the whole NRI’s & their ubiquitous mineral water bottles being brought up. Then there was the time Harman swears ‘Jesus’ and is gently chided ‘is ghar main Krishna kehte hain’.

All this does get overshadowed by a few flaws. First and foremost is the length – the film is at least three and a half hours long. It could’ve done with fewer songs (there are thirteen), killed off some of the sub plots (they were unnecessary, especially the mamu’s extra marital one) and I can think of one or two more areas which could’ve been done without. The other big one is the ending – its very ordinary, nothing special and a weak end to walk out of the hall with. There could’ve been a twist there to make it more interesting. I and my wife thought of a couple which could’ve worked better. There are a few good songs but most otherwise actually halt the narrative and bloat the film.

I felt though, that it wasn’t a bad film. Its about arranged marriage and puts forward situations which most Indians can identify with, bring a smile to most people. Who hasn’t hesitatingly asked the girls parents for some time alone with the girl, only to be brutally rebuffed. Or had the girls parents answer all the questions. Or have the girl lie, on the orders of her parents, who feel only certain clothes and answers will please the soon-to-be green card holder. Or meet girls who are, well, err, humph, a bit crazy.

This is a film which has its heart in the right place but not its length…as the doc’s say, an overdose of anything is bad and in this case we got more than we bargained for…Someone needed to gently remind Ashutosh Gowariker that ‘Yeh dil Maange More’ doesn’t necessarily apply to all things and situations…


Anonymous said...

I was heading out to watch the movie and thought I would check your review after reading some negative ones....

Monica said...

I remember the original serial.. Mohan Gokhale was aweome and so was the rest of cast. It was a shock when he passed away _ a very talented actor snatched away just when he was getting national exposure.
My favorite scene from the serial was when he says - Y.I Patel and the girl replies How should I know? Ask your father.