“Weird Al” Yankovic has a song called “One More Minute” in which he lists the things he’d rather do than spend time with the woman who broke his heart. Examples include ripping out his own intestines and jumping onto a pile of thumbtacks. While watching Ramaiya Vastavaiya, I gained a new appreciation for the song. Ramaiya Vastavaiya is a stupid movie that I wish I’d never seen.
The film has an incredibly dorky opening. Raghu (Sonu Sood) sits in his cell on the eve of his release from jail, a beatific glow on his face as he stares at photo of himself and his little sister as children. The friendly jailer asks glowing Raghu how a nice guy like him ended up in the clink — it’s been seven years, and you’re just wondering this now, Mr. Jailer? — prompting Raghu to recount a tale of romance between two young people of different economic classes.
Mind you, Raghu isn’t one of the young lovers. The couple comprises his sister, Sona (Shruti Haasan) and her rich boyfriend, Ram (debutant Girish Kumar Taurani, whose father produced the film), whom she meets at a friend’s wedding at which Raghu is not present. Raghu would seem to be an odd choice to narrate a love story he wasn’t around to witness, but Sona’s romance with Ram is just a perfunctory plot contrivance. The story isn’t about how Ram woos the girl but about how he woos Raghu.
Ram is a textbook example of the male-fantasy hero of so many Hindi films (to be fair, many Hollywood films, too). He’s immature, annoying, and spoiled, yet he gets his salt-of-the-earth dream-girl anyway, no effort required. As poorly as the character is written, Taurani does his best to make Ram as irritating as possible.
Ram’s obligatory character growth in which he learns the value of hard work happens not to impress Sona, but to win over Raghu. This is made doubly hard since Raghu arrived at the friend’s wedding in time to witness Ram’s snobby mother accuse Sona of being a gold-digger and have her thrown out of the wedding.
Prabhu Deva’s schizophrenic directing style compounds the film’s many problems. Uncomfortable scenes such as the one involving Ram’s mother follow on the heels of pratfalls and slide-whistle sound effects. The second half of the movie is replete with bodily function gags and lots and lots of cow dung.
Action scenes are edited so jarringly that the action is hard to follow. The climactic fight scene — which ends in unexpected brutality — is so fast and erratic that I started to experience motion sickness.
While Prabhu Deva is renowned as a choreographer, the movie’s dance numbers are nothing special. There’s no context for the film’s big item number, which inexplicably finds Jacqueline Fernandez dolled up and dancing in a field.
Ramaiya Vastavaiya has two things going for it: 1) Shruti Haasan is really, really pretty, and 2) Paresh Ganatra is funny as the manservant Bijli. Is that enough to make me prefer watching Ramaiya Vastavaiya to having my blood sucked out by leeches? No.