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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Gori Tere Pyaar Mein review: Imran, Kareena can build bridge, not love story

The one good line in Sajid Khan’s tedious Himmatwala belongs to its spoilt heroine, who tosses her head and says, “I hate gareebs!”

Punit Malhotra’s Gori Tere Pyaar Mein! meets some of these unfortunate “gareebs” through the good offices of the beautifully dressed and perfectly coiffured bleeding heart Dia (Kareena Kapoor Khan).

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Dia is an ideology-free cause addict who jumps from one pressing problem to the next. Mid-leap, she meets Sriram (Imran Khan), the wealthy son of a mall developer (Nizhalgal Ravie) in Bangalore. Sriram is an Iyer (he has the sacred thread to prove it), irreverent to the point that he skips his grandmother’s cremation, and aimless enough to wander into his own wedding to a fellow Tambrahm (Shraddha Kapoor), who speaks Hindi with a Punjabi-via-Bambaiya accent.

It is apparent within the first few minutes that the caste backdrop and Bangalore setting have been chucked into the screenplay to show that the film-makers are fully aware of a world beyond the deracinated borough of Mumbai from which they hail, and from which such movies emerge. Gori Tere Pyaar Mein!

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probably started life as a screwball comedy about a his-Italian-loafers-versus-her-Kolhapuri chappals couple, but the screenplay, by Malhotra and Arshad Syed, takes its cue from Sriram’s general air of foolish bravado and sallies forth recklessly and disastrously into unknown territory. It might not have been a bad idea to go back to the days when characters were called Rahul and Priya and had no surname with which to burden themselves or audiences.

The further the writers travel from their comfort zone—Bangalore, Delhi, and finally rural Gujarat—the more ridiculous it gets. The first half deals with Sriram’s ambivalent feelings towards Dia, while the second, and more risible section, attempts to apply balm on rural India’s sores.

Sriram’s redemption mission unfolds in a village that is Dia’s new home, which she rules on the strength of her fair skin (several references to that too), and which desperately needs a bridge (eventually provided by Sriram). Khan’s inability to inhabit his character or deliver his lines with conviction is proof that he is coasting along purely on the basis of his chocolate-boy looks, while Kapoor Khan picks up a pay cheque for a half-hearted effort.

Malhotra’s desire to engage with the issues that matter seems to be a response to criticism that Bollywood needs to move out of la-la land and in the direction of realistic cinema, but Gori Tere Pyaar Mein! is proof that this journey is not for everybody.

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