Tag Archives: Parineeti Chopra

Movie Review: Shuddh Desi Romance (2013)

ShuddhDesiRomance3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Whether we want to admit it or not, romantic relationships are both public and private. Society demands to know how its members fit together. Shuddh Desi Romance (released internationally as “Random Desi Romance“) explores how the social nature of romantic partnerships is changing in India, as arranged marriages fall out of fashion.

This exploration takes place via a love triangle involving Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput), Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra), and Tara (Vaani Kapoor). The story begins on the way to Raghu’s arranged marriage to Tara, an arrangement he agrees to because he figures he’ll never meet anyone else as pretty. On the overnight bus ride to the wedding, Raghu does meet another pretty woman: Gayatri, who, like Raghu, makes a living as a paid guest hired to fill out anemic wedding parties.

On the bus, Raghu realizes that he’s made a mistake in agreeing to marry the first pretty woman he meets. Failing to learn his lesson, he immediately falls in love with Gayatri. Raghu flees in the middle of the wedding ceremony under the pretext of going to the bathroom (setting up a running gag throughout the rest of the film).

Poor Raghu is semi-permanently flummoxed. He follows his heart blindly, only to emerge from his romantic haze to find that something has gone wrong, and he has no idea why. During his more lucid moments, Raghu is earnest and charming, which is the only reason self-assured women like Gayatri and Tara have anything to do with him.

What Gayatri and Tara understand is that one’s actions in romance have both private and public meaning. The consequences of running out on your own wedding are obvious to everyone, but even sharing dinner in a restaurant is a public display of togetherness, even if only for the duration of the meal. Nosy parents, friends, neighbors, and relatives all over the world ask the same questions of every young couple: “Is this relationship serious? When are you getting married? When are you having kids?”

Writer Jaideep Sahni uses a clever trick to allow his young adult characters to explore the meaning of love for themselves: he writes their parents out of the narrative. The only interfering elders are Tara’s overprotective uncle (played by Rajesh Sharma) and the caterer who employs Gayatri and Raghu as wedding extras (played by Rishi Kapoor in a very funny supporting role).

The lead actors are outstanding, particularly Rajput, who anchors the story. He manages to make Raghu confused, but not a total dimwit. He’s just way out of his depth with the two women in his life.

Parineeti Chopra is something special. Like her character in Ishaqzaade, she again plays an independent woman who falls for a man against her better judgement. As cautious as Gayatri is, she’s just as susceptible to getting lost in the moment as Raghu.

Vaani Kapoor is terrific in her film debut. Her finest moment is during her jilting at the altar. When it becomes apparent that Raghu has fled, Tara — clad in her wedding finery — calmly sits in the chair and asks someone to bring her a Coke. It’s such a boss move.

In trying to depict a realistic modern romance, director Maneesh Sharma eschews the use of a lot of background music, favoring street noise instead. He also allows conversations and scenes to play out at a slow pace. At times, it feels the audience is given too much time to think about what’s happening, an irony given Raghu’s penchant for acting without thinking. Fortunately, a moderately short runtime keeps the film from feeling too bogged down in exposition.

Shuddh Desi Romance is smart, funny, and full of great performances. It’s worth seeing ASAP.

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Opening September 6: Shuddh Desi Romance and Zanjeer

Two new Hindi flicks hit Chicago area screens on September 6, 2013. Shuddh Desi Romance (listed at some theaters as “Random Desi Romance“) features rising stars Parineeti Chopra and Sushant Singh Rajput alongside newcomer Vaani Kapoor in a romcom love triangle.

Shuddh Desi Romance opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 5 min.

Also new in theaters this weekend is Zanjeer, a remake of the 1973 film of the same name starring Amitabh Bachchan. The remake stars Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra, and Sanjay Dutt.

Zanjeer opens on Friday at the River East 21, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. Its runtime is listed at IMDb as 2 hrs. 17 min. The Golf Glen 5 is also carrying the Telugu version of Zanjeer, Thoofan.

After posting solid earnings of $500,402 over the extended holiday weekend in the U.S., Satyagraha gets a second week at the River East 21, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.

Madras Cafe gets a third weekend at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17.

Chennai Express is still going strong with earnings of $5,122,240 in the U.S. so far. It gets a fifth weekend at the South Barrington 30, Woodridge 18, and Cantera 17.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include the Tamil movies Madha Gaja Raja and Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam.

The teaser trailer from Dhoom 3 just released today, and it features some great footage shot in downtown Chicago. The movie releases on December 20, 2013.

Movie Review: Ishaqzaade (2012)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Unlike most movies produced by Yash Raj Films, Ishaqzaade (“Love Rebels”) didn’t get a major roll-out in North American theaters when it released in India in May. Instead, YRF waited to show Ishaqzaade — rechristened as “Born to Hate…Destined to Love” — at the Toronto International Film Festival, where its global sales rights were acquired by Shoreline Entertainment.

Even though the film is already available on DVD in the U.S., I hope the new acquisition means greater theatrical exposure for Ishaqzaade. It’s a tremendous movie.

Ishaqzaade is a Romeo & Juliet-type romance set in the terrifying world of local politics in Uttar Pradesh. It’s election season in the town of Almore, and the reigning politician, Qureshi, is challenged by the patriarch of the Chauhan family. Besides political animosity, the families are divided by religion as well: the Qureshis are Muslim, the Chauhans are Hindu.

Parma Chauhan (Arjun Kapoor) is the youngest of his grandfather’s grandsons. He’s marginalized in the family hierarchy in part because of his age, but also because his mother is a widow (not that she was responsible for her husband’s death). Parma is desperate to get in his grandfather’s good graces, but Parma’s attitude makes him a liability.

Parma has the devastating combination of a short temper and a sense of entitlement. When a merchant mentions selling diesel fuel to the Qureshis, Parma burns the merchant’s warehouse “to teach him a lesson.” He fails to consider that abusing the common folk hurts his grandfather’s election prospects.

The youngest member of the Qureshi family is Zoya (Parineeti Chopra), herself something of a firebrand. She’s responsible for coordinating her father’s campaign on her college campus, but is eager to do more. When Parma and his goons kidnap a dancer performing at a Qureshi party, Zoya chases after him in her jeep while firing her newly acquired pistol. However, her father’s plans for her are limited to marrying Zoya off to a banker from London, and he laughs at her political ambitions.

Zoya and Parma’s story really begins with an on-campus encounter. He urinates on her father’s campaign poster. She slaps him. He points a gun at her. Parma is impressed that Zoya doesn’t flinch at the loaded gun. She’s impressed when he sneaks into the girls’ bathroom to apologize.

This story is not Romeo & Juliet, however. When Parma starts pursuing Zoya, he’s still the same deplorable person who burned the merchant’s warehouse. Zoya is immature in her own right, in that she allows her feelings to override her awareness that her father would never allow her to marry a Hindu, let alone a member of the Chauhan family.

Ishaqzaade never lets romantic film conventions obscure the social norms of the region in which the film takes place. Religious differences are not something to be toyed with and are not easily overcome. Politics can be a similarly deadly enterprise, with seemingly no offense too minor to be greeted with gunfire.

I was most fascinated with the role of women in the film. Zoya’s headstrong personality makes her a fine mascot within her family, but doesn’t lend itself to a quiet life as a wife and mother, the only future her father sees for her. Zoya’s mother and Parma’s mother are sympathetic to her but pragmatic as well. Undersized and out-gunned, the women in both families have little choice but to submit to the will of the men.

The only other women in Ishaqzaade outside of the two families are prostitutes. The kidnapped dancer, Chand Baby (Gauhar Khan), is admired for her beauty and dancing skills, but it’s always clear where she ranks in the social order. Chauhan refers to her as “the whore.”

When men place so much emphasis on controlling women (and their sexuality in particular), it makes women a natural target for exploitation. From a practical standpoint, it seems a squandering of resources. Zoya’s brothers are good for carrying out simple orders, but they lack her cleverness and passionate commitment to the cause.

Chopra does a great job making Zoya feisty, yet vulnerable and naive. After all, she’s essentially still a kid. Kapoor has a swagger that makes Parma loathsome while simultaneously betraying the insecurity fueling the bravado. Parma is not a loveable character, but he is fascinating to watch. The lead actors’ performances are well-executed in a movie that demands much from its cast and its audience.

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Movie Review: Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl (2011)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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There’s a decent romantic comedy buried within Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl. Unfortunately, one has to slog through the interminable opening hour of its 140 minute runtime to find it.

Briefly put, Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl is about three women who get revenge on a conman. Rather than get right to the revenge, however, the movie shows, in tedious detail, how each of the women is taken for various amounts of money by Ricky Bahl (Ranveer Singh), a grifter who goes by the aliases Sunny, Deven, Iqbal and Vikram.

In fact, the opening credits don’t even run until twenty minutes into the film, after “Sunny” tricks a naive, spoiled brat named Dimple (Parineeti Chopra) into falling for him. After he makes off with Dimple’s dad’s money, Sunny changes his name to Deven and tricks a businesswoman named Raina (Dipannita Sharma) into buying a bogus painting.

When Raina and Dimple are contacted by a third conned woman, textile shop owner Saira (Aditi Sharma), the three team up to get their money back. They hire a beautiful and uncommonly persuasive salesgirl, Ishika (Anushka Sharma), to trick Ricky into returning their stolen funds.

This is when the story finally gets interesting, but it’s an hour into the film. Up to this point, the plot is simultaneously predictable and directionless. It’s obvious how each of Ricky’s cons is going to end; the only mystery is why we need such a large volume of set-up material.

It’s also a huge mistake to keep the film’s biggest asset — Anushka Sharma — under wraps for so long. Sharma has an infectious smile and an undeniable charm. Her ease in front of the camera has elevated every film she’s starred in during the course of her brief career.

Singh is a perfectly suitable leading man, particularly for Yash Raj Films’ particular brand of light, popcorn fare. Singh’s got a killer smile as well, his hair looks great when a high-powered fan is directed at it, and his muscled torso is manscaped within an inch of its life. But that’s probably not enough to warrant anchoring a film when a legitimate superstar like Anushka Sharma is in the cast.

And let’s not forget that Ricky is a conman. We want to see him get his comeuppance at the hands of someone we like. That’s Ishika, someone who’s similarly clever but earns her paycheck legally. She enters a grey area by accepting the ladies’ job, but that makes her interesting, not a criminal. Ishika has the most room for growth, so she should be the main character, not Ricky.

The rest of the titular ladies carry off their somewhat narrow roles well. Notable is newcomer Chopra (actress Priyanka Chopra’s cousin), who successfully makes Pringle-chomping rich girl Dimple more amusing than annoying. Some of the most enjoyable scenes in the film feature the ladies working together to extract money from the thief.

The music and dance numbers are entertaining, thanks in large part to Singh’s impressive skills on the dance floor.

Had the backstory of how each woman was swindled been trimmed down to a total of twenty or thirty minutes, this might have been a pretty good film. But Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl has too many missteps early on to make it a “must see” movie.

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