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What's Your Raashee? Yogesh Patel, a young man in a hurry. Yogesh must find his dream girl within 10 days to save his family from utter ruin. Finding the dream girl is tough enough. Finding her in a hurry is even tougher. Written by
I've been following the films made by Ashutosh Gowariker, who has helmed huge epics and worked with the biggest names in Bollywood today, such as Lagaan with Amir Khan, Swades with Shah Rukh Khan, and his previous film Jodhaa Akbar starring Hrithik Roshan and Ashwarya Rai Bachchan. And it's a fact that his films have runtimes of about 3.5 hours, which goes by real quickly as he keeps the story engaging, and the production values for this films are nothing less than magnificent. So naturally my interest was piqued as the auteur has now turned his sights on a romantic comedy, and I wonder exactly how a filmmaker such as he would be able to tackle this mass-appeal genre.
Based on the novel "Kimbali Ravenswood" by Madhu Rye, What's Your Rashee? (or translated as star sign for the English speaking audience) has all the ingredients that would allow for the runtime to stretch to a typical Gowariker length, but that's only because the challenge is to present all 12 female characters representing their respective star signs with attempts at equal runtime for each, with a song being inserted during the whirlwind courtship, clocking 13 tunes when the typical production averages 5. Think of it as an extreme speed dating where we get to know the opposite sex in some detail, with some travelling involved as the production showcased different districts in Mumbai, which of course is an eye-opener for one who has never visited India, yet.
The story's actually nothing sophisticated, and by romantic comedy standards quite predictable at times. Basically Yogesh Patel (Harman Buweja), an Non-Resident Indian living in Chicago has been summoned back to India because his parents learnt of his multi-million dollar inheritance from his grandfather should he get married, and the family now needs that kind of money to pay off his brother's debts. He reluctantly agrees of course, and sets himself up to meet initially hundreds of girls, but inspiration struck and he decided that he should be 12, one maiden under each star sign.
The main draw of the film is of course actress Priyanka Chopra, who has taken on possibly her most challenging film to date, playing 12 characters with more than 12 personalities. Why I say this is because some of her characters are putting on a facade, thus allowing more room for Priyanka to showcase her acting chops, which she did, with the help of stylists decking her out in beautiful dresses, varying make up, wigs, contact lenses and prosthetics even. That's only the physical outlook you would be amazed at the physical presentation at how chameleon-like this ex-Miss World can be and she takes her roles on with gusto to make you feel with some, laugh at some, and endear towards some through some wonderful pieces of acting. Not to mention that she broke the record set by Kamal Hassan, who tackled 10 characters in his movie Dasavatharam.
Unfortunately for Harman Baweja, who's in need for a booster to his fledging career after the flop Love Story 2050 (which incidentally also co-starred Priyanka), and the lacklustre Victory, his role as Yogesh, quite obsessed with doing the right thing each time, finds himself constantly upstaged and overshadowed by Priyanka's performance. It's a little pity of course, given that if it's anyone who can help him it'll likely be Gowariker given the director's strengths, but this was not to be as it's pretty much the leading lady's vehicle. But that's not to mean that Gowariker's film here is without flaws. Amongst his works to date, I feel that this was perhaps the weakest of the lot, suffering from a number of subplots which provided nothing more than a distraction to the meat of the story, such as that involving the infidelity of his uncle and marriage-consultant (Darshan Zariwala), and that of the loansharks who pop up now and then for unnecessary comic relief.
However, its strengths more than compensated for its drawbacks, such as how Priyanka just ran with her opportunities to shine, 12 times. The story also provided some insights into how arranged marriages, with dowries and all, are still conducted and quite a cultural thing, and the plights that some family face with having too many daughters, and wondering how best to have them married off. As the encounters with the different women were rather stand- alone, each allowed for the examination of traits and characteristics that will make you love, or loathe, and generally applies across the board, which allows you to identify with such instances.
But for all its narrative twists in secrets that cannot be kept, for its fleeting discussions on honesty or lack thereof, what I enjoyed most was the quasi-explanation of why the females that Yogesh meets, all share a striking resemblance with one another, which other characters don't seem to agree with, but only to the male protagonist. I liked how it was mentioned that we all have this preconceived idea of how our soul mate would preferably look like, and from then we tend to project this thought onto whomever we think would have a chance with, or at least tend to take those physical bits into consideration, only for their inner character, when revealed, to be anything but adhering to our dreams.
What's Your Raashee? for the romantic in me, worked wonders, and will leave you guessing at the end just who Yogesh would end up with, since Gowariker deliberately kept you hanging in suspense for as long as he possibly could. I'd recommend it as a date movie anytime if you're looking for something different from the usual Hollywood fare. Just remember to empty your bladders before the show starts, or you'll have to plan to hit the loo just about the time Leo gets introduced, for that inbuilt intermission.
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