Sep 28, 2009

What's Your Raashee?

Disclaimer: The review follows the movie in terms of length :).

Braving the length of the movie and the not-so-good reviews it has been getting, I sat through 'What's Your Raashee?' (WYR?), with no expectations, though I knew Ashutosh Gowarikar (AG) would have something different to entertain with. For a person with an impeccable track record of three epic (long) movies, shooting (rather stretching) a romantic comedy should have definitely not been a hard task. After all Jodhaa Akbar, if set in modern times would classify as a romantic movie with hints of comedy thrown in between.

'What's Your Raashee?' will probably a film, that AG would definitely like to show to people that he is capable of not only period films, but also light ones. And he should definitely be proud of making Priyanka Chopra (PC) star in twelve different roles and extracting the best performance from her.

The storyline of the movie is quite simple. To obtain ancestral property, to help his brother settle his debts, Yogesh Patel (Hurman Baweja), based in Chicago, has to get married in 10 days. The wedding date is set, the wedding hall is ready, he just has to search for a bride. In trying something that is novel, he decides to meet just 12 girls, who are of twelve sun-signs and select one out of them. He meets the twelve and finds PC in everyone of them. How the proceedings go, how he interacts with each of them and makes a decision is what is told in a funny, at times over-the-top, and interesting manner.

Coming to PC, she is probably the heart and soul of the movie. Portraying varied characters, none like another, with respect to mannerisms or body language or the accent, is quite a hard task. Starting off with Anjali who attempts to show off a cool girl including the 'Mondates, Tuesdates' and 'No menson,' to the 15 year old Jhankana, she carries off all her characters with elegance. (details on all characters in the end). PC may be overlooked for awards, but she surely deserves praises for taking the challenge of acting in 12 different roles. (I personally feel, this movie and these characters were far better etched than Kamalhassan in 'Dasavatharam.')

At the intermission which comes after almost close to 2 hours, one thing that needs to be appreciated is that, not one character is shown as a perfect girl, and nor is someone shown totally bad to reject right away. It would have been a disaster if a few girls were eliminated at this point.

A three and half hour movie needed a tight script backed by dialogs which engage the viewer. At most times, the dialogs are quite hilarious though the screenplay tends to drag. But, AG can be excused from this, for providing good laughs all way through the movie. Also, the amount of the details provided to minutest things including the props on screen is really appreciable.

A.R.Rahman a regular in AG's films is sorely missed, and Sohail Sen is no ARR, but gives decent tunes which blend well through the mood of the movie. He sings a couple of songs, and AG regulars like Bela Shinde (Mann mohana in JA), Madhushree (Swades and JA) lend their voices to this movie.

Hurman as Yogesh is sober, and luckily doesn't have any heroics to display in this PC-dominated movie. I am sure AG would have to compromise, if he had any other actor play this role bending to the actor's stature. Yogesh's family members are quite funny, but do blackmail him emotionally most of the time, putting him in a tight spot. The families of the each of the twelve characters (wherever introduced) are mostly believable, show the typical Gujarati behavior. The regulars in AGs films are present in this movie as well. The cinematography is spectacular capturing a few locales in the songs very well.

What could have been better off in the movie was --- a tighter screenplay with less focus on songs for each rashee, and probably doing away with the detective sub-plot (which did invoke laughter at most times). One thing that's realistic, but something that I couldn't digest is – what happens to the rest of the suitors. In reality, I don't think any one goes back to check their status out, but here we've grown attached to each of the PC's characters and do want to know what has happened.

Verdict: It was repetitive and long, but refreshing and entertaining! :)

Roles of the suitors for Yogesh all played by PC:

Anjali (Aries) pretends to be this cool girl with English and many other things, only to flop at the end. You begin to sympathize with the character, and probably think if this is going to be the end of it.
The character Hansa (Cancer), the silent girl who comes out with the past truth is easily the girl, one would emphathise on (including Yogesh).
Kajal (Gemini), the chirpy college girl is entirely the opposite, with her spontaneous romance.
Sanjana (Aquarius) with whom he goes on a drive even after rejecting her (forced by her), is initially a weak character, which does evolve over time.
Rajni (Libra) is a no-non-sense ultra-practical girl who wants a marriage partner who will dance to her tunes. This was a little impractical with an agreement before marriage. However the song is quite imaginatively shot.
Chandrika (Pisces) believes in re-incarnation and thinks they were together in the past. A song that shows Yogesh like a South Indian hero, shot at exotic locales comes up. The only thing you remember about this girls is her dad that says 'Humari koi shaakha nahi hai'.
Mallika (Leo) is a good dancer, whom Yogesh falls for, just to be rejected for his show-off as an NRI with a delicate stomach.
Nandini (Scorpio) is a aspiring model (sober at home) who wants to use Yogesh as a ticket for an entry into Chicago fashion industry.
Bhavna(Sagittarius) is an astrologer who predicts something really ridiculous for Yogesh and seduces him, only to facilitate his departure from her house really early.
Pooja (Virgo), the doctor was the most realistic character and surely a contender if not for her 'Swades'hi dream. Kudos to PC for downplaying the character very well.
Vishaka (Taurus), the girl who tries to test Yogesh, if he is after her money, fails terribly in her attempt by acting crazily. I wonder why one would do such a thing. The song that comes in this segment is quite foot-tapping.
Jhankana (Capricorn) is an underaged girl forced into marriage, and is portrayed so very well by PC (supposedly a 27 yr old). The way she finally thanks Yogesh, saying she wants to study further is a bit emotional, but ends well.