Friday, September 25, 2009

What's Your Raashee film review

What's Your POINT!

Starring: Priyanka Chopra, Harman Baweja, Darshan Jariwala, Anjan SrivastavaDirected by: Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Stars: **1/2

The most disappointing aspect of watching a movie is seeing a pointless endeavour and What’s Your Rashee? is mostly just that. So if Jodhaa Akbar was a four hour long film about a royal couple unable to decide whether to consummate or not, this one goes on endlessly about a guy’s search for a bride. Jodhaa Akbar, for all its splendour and great music, was hardly as significant as a Lagaan or a Swades. One already saw a certain lack of ambition in the story, beyond of course its mammoth scale. Now, with What’s Your Raashee?, Ashutosh Gowariker has gone ahead and tried to recycle a concept that became popular with the televised series, Mr Yogi in the DD days. The idea of an NRI looking for one girl from every sun sign is expected to be an episodic one and clearly suited for television. When it’s made as a film, it turns out excruciatingly long drawn and boring.

The strength of the subject is the curiosity it evokes in the audience about their individual sun signs, so for a while, it seems interesting when NRI Yogesh Patel (Harman Baweja) meets a couple of girls. The first one(Aries) is the best of the lot and Priyanka’s really in form here. Also, for a subject that would normally be right up Yash Raj’s alley, Gowariker ensures there is a certain authenticity to the setting. The homes appear lived in, the characters (many new faces) are all people who one might have encountered at some point. So thankfully, there’s nothing synthetic about the story.

Yogesh’s meeting with the girls is fairly good until interval point. Harman’s earnestness and Priyanka’s finesse as a performer ensure that the proceedings stay interesting for quite some time. Another aspect about the film is that Gowariker never overstates the traits in any sun sign and keeps it subtle. So the Aquarian should be recogonised by her dreamy eyes, the Geminine by her proclivity to fall in love with the idea of love, the Arian for her honesty and so on. On one level, you can appreciate the director’s acumen to slip in characteristics in an unobtrusive way, but then again, some signs are so unrecogonisable that they become mere characters.The essential repetitiveness of the plot takes its toll in the second half and the episodes from this point are simply not engaging enough. The Piscean girl’s ‘punar janam’ episode is especially tedious. Gowariker inserts two sub-plots to break the monotony but all they do is stretch the film even longer. There’s one involving a jotish-turned-jasoos and another one with Yogesh and his brother being chased by a ‘Bhai’ character who wants his money back.

These are as boring as the hazaar songs that have been needlessly thrust into the narrative. The film’s climax is probably as unconvincing as the premise itself. It’s never clear from the very beginning why Yogesh’s grandpa won’t hand him over his inheritance if he won’t marry. This is a major flaw in the script, something which could have been easily taken care of.
Many of Ashutosh’s strengths as a director, including his ability to treat his story and characters intelligently are visible here. But many of weaknesses are more pronounced than ever. The filmmaker has always made long films, but here it seems especially unjustified. At least five of the songs could have been done away with. The only two songs that are reasonable good are Su Che and the title track. His languorous, unhurried style of filmmaking that probably was okay for a film like Swades makes it quite problematic when it comes to a light-hearted, fun film like this one.

Still, if there’s anything to recommend, it is the performances. Priyanka Chopra, while never a very charismatic actress, has always been a competent and intelligent performer. And nothing proves it better than her ability to play each character in a unique way. The screenplay lets her down at various points but there is very little to fault the actress. Priyanka has put in an enormous effort, in the sense that she’s skillfully changed her body language and speech pattern for all the characters. She’s especially terrific playing the 15 year old girl.
Harman Baweja has been well cast. The film probably needed an actor without the baggage of an image and could look convincing in the role of a well-meaning, malleable young boy. He’s decent, and has almost as much screen time as Priyanka.
The other actor who really shines here is Darshan Jariwala, as Harman’s affable uncle.

But as one said, the film ceases to be interesting after a point and the concept simply runs out of steam. By the time, the climax approaches, you couldn’t care less who Harman marries.
-Sandhya Iyer