No doubt that the impression Punit Malhotra left on me with his first film meant that I wasn’t particularly psyched for the rest of his film career. But at the same time we’ve seen directors do a complete 180 and prove us wrong and how, case on point: Nikhil Advani! To my surprise and relief Punit does much the same with his second film. Of course he doesn’t do as big of a turn around as Nikhil did with D-Day, but lets not forget D-Day came after a couple of very disappointing films.
The first thing I wasn’t expecting from a Punit Malhotra film after his debut was the level of Desi-ness that this film incorporates. After the very urban I Hate Love Storys I thought that Gori Tere Pyaar Mein would function also in that make believe India. I was glad to be proven wrong. GTPM is extremely rooted to the country perhaps because its leading female protagonist has taken it on herself to improve everything about the country.
With the desi-ness came a level of rawness/realism that I definitely wasn’t expecting from the film. IHLS felt like a set, even when the characters in the film weren’t on a set! It was a plastic world with plastic characters. But Gori is very different in that sense. The characters and their problems are extremely real. From their dressing to their language, you completely believe that a person of that background would look and behave like that. Be it Kareena’s effortless kurti/jeans or Imran’s sleek ‘rich-boy’ wear that wasn’t overtly in your face as they usually are in Dharma urban rom-coms. Then there were the sets. Granted the ‘gao’ portion could have used a bit more grit, the first half was completely commendable with completely desi real locales. Best of all its a city we see very little off in Indian cinema today, Bangalore! Kudos for stepping away from what we normally see.
Malhotra blatantly acknowledges aspects of the film which you the audience may have just been about to pick up on. Firstly his characters admit that Imran Khan is possibly the least South-Indian looking boy the industry possible has. (You all were thinking it, the director just said it!) They also acknowledge the that ‘gori’ may just look a bit more mature than the ‘gora’ in question. Thirdly in the pre-interval portion through Sriram’s character he brings to the forefront a very critical issue with Diya’s character which was forever encircling my thoughts. That is, doing charity from AC bedrooms is all fun but truly speaking there’s much more that needs to be done for which you need to get your hands dirty. This confrontational scene between Diya/Sriram is absolutely brilliant as it established that this relationship is a two way street with each party with its own flaws and inability to compromise. Much like real life!
The film comes to a crackling interval point with Imran making a run for it in his SI lungi avatar from his wedding mandap. Sadly though the film isn’t able to keep that fire alive in the second half. It seems to progress at a snails pace in the post interval portion. Perhaps because its so predictable you want it to be over and done with already, yet you have to sit through and endure the unnecessary melodrama to get to a climax which you already saw happening. It seems to only get worse as the film comes to an end with Anupam Kher, as a villain, coming in and making matters…well, worse! The jokes fade away and there’s very little to keep you glued to the screen. Sad that its the second half that ends on this note because unfortunately its the second half which you take away with you when you walk away from a film.
However, the silver lining are the performances by Imran and Kareena. Its such a relief to see a female protagonist sketched so well with ample scope for performance in a rom-com. Usually for an actress to get any scope to perform she has to get a really intense dramatic role in a solo-heroine script but here was a role that required Kareena to have great comic timing, deliver compelling dramatic portions and also woo the audience and the hero. Diya is a lot of fun, admirable in many ways but also most certainly flawed, as we all are! Imran Khan on the other hand takes another leap in being able to ‘let go’ in front of the camera. Compare this to the earlier Imran and you’ll totally notice and appreciate the inhibited nature of his performance. He’s absolutely brilliant as the self centred, confused yet, head over heals in love Sriram. He’s got that rare ability to deliver subtle jokes with a complete straight face. And then you’ll see him pulling off a scene like the pre-interval confrontation with Diya as brilliantly as he does the other things. der se aaye lekin durast aaye! Here’s to more growth! Shraddha Kapoor plays almost a third lead, and is given more scope than our leading ladies in mass action entertainers. (no doubt about that!). She gets the unique pleasure of being a laughing bride at her own wedding featuring her runaway groom which is enough reason to do this role. Her pre-interval scene at the mandap is brilliant as is the scene where Sriram meets her boyfriend.
Vishal-Shekhar’s album was a winner for me much prior to seeing it onscreen. Highlights being Chingam Chabake and Naina. Although I can’t help by stress that the placing of the songs bugged me a little bit because there were times when I said ‘not another song’ which if placed well one should never say for a such a more-than listenable soundtrack in a film.
Punit has definitely dished out a better serving than he had with his first outing. You connect with the characters and their lives whilst in IHLS you felt like you’re watching a bunch of animated people in a make believe world. Here you feel even for a crab pet! So that is definitely a feat for his execution and writing which he did in combination with Arshad Syed. Imran and Kareena individual performances and effortless clean chemistry is another major plus point for the film as is Punit and Arshad dialogues. However, its undeniable that the second half of the film is a big downer. Its especially disappointing because the first half is a whole bunch of fun with great progress in script and a brilliant pace. That I aside I don’t completely write off the film and still recommend it to anyone looking for an easy no-brainer fun film to watch. Its far from flawless but has more than a few good laughs, characters you’ll take home with you and compelling performances.