Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shuddh Desi Romance by Maneesh Sharma

The tagline of the film is: "A story about the hair-raising minefield between love, attraction and commitment."

I got tricked into going to this film after reading the Danny Bowes' review on rogerebert.com which started with: "Unless something very good comes out between now and December, "Shuddh Desi Romance" will be the best romantic comedy made anywhere in the world for 2013."


I think the film starts well, is nicely photographed with authentic shots of small-town India.  And then runs out of steam after about thirty minutes.  Yes, it is a bold film (for India) which shows live-in relationships and sex under the stars.  Awkward kissing, too.  In Jaipur, of all places.  Old codgers could be forgiven for thinking that these kinds of films are made to corrupt the minds of traditional folks in small towns, with places like Delhi and Mumbai having already gone to the dogs, culturally speaking.

There are some young men and women in this film who are somehow living as islands.  Where is their family?  Where is the community?  Where are the repercussions?  A stunt film warns its viewers not to even attempt to imitate what is shown on the screen.  Similarly, this film should warn its viewers that promiscuity and breaking off of engagements in small-town India can have, literally, deadly consequences.  Especially for a single woman who is living on her own.

I get it, it's a comedy.  But then, it tries to preach as well, by breaking the fourth wall.  A film can either be a social commentary, or a comedy.  If you are being ambitious and trying to do both, then get it right.  This film doesn't.

Yes, commitment scares the best of us.  And who doesn't like relationships with "no strings attached".  Except, of course, when shit hits the fan and we need the other and feel "abandoned".  Freedom is so nice, the film tries to say.  Only that no one in the film is forcing anybody to give up that freedom, or to commit.  It is all self-made decisions and then going back on those decisions.

One could be forgiven for running away from a commitment which is forced upon oneself, and there are civil ways to break off an engagement.  But no, confrontation is for losers.  Running away is the winning way!

Smoking, drinking and fornicating is not the essence of a free life, despite what this film tries to show.

The film is one joke told three (or more, I lost count) times.

I am reminded of this para from the manifesto written by Theodore John Kaczynski:
75. In primitive societies life is a succession of stages. The needs and purposes of one stage having been fulfilled, there is no particular reluctance about passing on to the next stage. A young man goes through the power process by becoming a hunter, hunting not for sport or for fulfillment but to get meat that is necessary for food. (In young women the process is more complex, with greater emphasis on social power; we won't discuss that here.) This phase having been successfully passed through, the young man has no reluctance about settling down to the responsibilities of raising a family. (In contrast, some modern people indefinitely postpone having children because they are too busy seeking some kind of "fulfillment." We suggest that the fulfillment they need is adequate experience of the power process -- with real goals instead of the artificial goals of surrogate activities.) Again, having successfully raised his children, going through the power process by providing them with the physical necessities, the primitive man feels that his work is done and he is prepared to accept old age (if he survives that long) and death. Many modern people, on the other hand, are disturbed by the prospect of death, as is shown by the amount of effort they expend trying to maintain their physical condition, appearance and health. We argue that this is due to unfulfillment resulting from the fact that they have never put their physical powers to any use, have never gone through the power process using their bodies in a serious way. It is not the primitive man, who has used his body daily for practical purposes, who fears the deterioration of age, but the modern man, who has never had a practical use for his body beyond walking from his car to his house. It is the man whose need for the power process has been satisfied during his life who is best prepared to accept the end of that life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think a better film on the real world setting of romance is sahib, biwi aur gangster. Only thing is that it needs to be figured out who is sahib, who is biwi and who is gangster!!