Movie name: Gori Tere Pyaar Mein
Cast: Imran Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Anupam Kher, Shraddha Kapoor, Nizhalgal Ravi, Sujata Kumar, Manoj Bakshi, Neelu Kohli
Director: Punit Malhotra
Rating: 3 stars
In the priority pile erected by Karan Johar since he joined Bollywood, love sits cross-legged right on top, waiting for the party to begin. First love, of course, belongs to daddy dear, and those films KJo directs himself (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Agneepath).
Second slot is reserved for bro, and some of these he directs himself, the latest being the truly yucky Student of The Year. The third place is for boy-girl affairs and KJo seems to be done with the lot where meet-cute is followed by an extended, vertical foreplay-hurdles session, preferring to meet couples years later, when relationships have turned rancid (Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Bombay Talkies). Most cutesie, coming-of-age projects are assigned to his gang of young minions — Wake Up Sid, I Hate Luv Storys, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, and now Gori Tere Pyaar Mein.
Almost all these films, past and present, are built around the idea of love as articulated by Jigar Moradabadi:
Ye ishq nahi aasan, itna to samajh lije
Ek aag ka dariya hai, aur doob ke jana hai
For writer-director Punit Malhotra, love is but one round of steeplechase away. Complete the circuit of four ordinary barriers and one water jump and you’ll land straight in love’s lap. The rookie we must see through here to the finish line is Sriram Venkat (Imran Khan), a US-returned engineer.
As is often the case with rootless characters (read rich or foreign-returned) who star in such KJo productions, and to fix whose lives and souls he routinely erects lavish facades, we first get a taste of Sriram’s first-rate debauchery. Sriram is in a nightclub, dancing, drinking and making out with random, available singletons.
This is meant to establish the immoral depths to which the boy has plummeted. And then, when his appa dear is decrying how the family name is being peed upon every night, Sriram toys with a PSP. This means that there is no hope in hell for this boy.
Except, of course, till the right, rooted girl comes along. Because, you see, no hero is ever bad at heart. Mostly it’s American influence that is to blame. That is exactly what has turned Sriram into an alien. In fact, so alienated is Sriram that he skips an important family funeral. Haw hai!
So a slightly kooky environmentalist materialises, waiting to rescue and be rescued. Dia Sharma (Kareena Kapoor) attends rotary club meetings, feigns child birth on busy roads, dances with uncles at weddings, stands up for waiters’ rights and gives her own parents palpitations.
She is, in effect, a concerned individual who finds Sriram shallow because he wants to make out with her while dating her distant friend.
Hero can’t just spot the girl and drag her by the hair to the mandap. No, he must clear several hurdles first. Here the hurdles include an arranged marriage to a reluctant but ideal Iyer girl, hero’s own narcissism and callous attitude, and a village that needs a bridge.
The wedding-that’s-not-to-be exists only to serve two purposes — a) so that Johar & Malhotra can get their jollies by turning Tamilians into hyperventilating caricatures at whose expense lots of laughs can be had; b) Sriram can keep going into flashback, to his true love Dia, and we can all learn why a crab dwells in his bedroom.
Via flashback we learn that love blossomed in the time of samaj seva. Substantial amount of time is devoted to Dia’s activism – delivering rousing speeches, confronting corrupt politicians, healing kids afflicted with AIDS — but all her shenanigans are also poked at.
This is mildly interesting, as long as you can take a size-zero samaj sevika with the perfect skin, shiny hair and one who boasts more kalas than Lord Krishna. He had just 16.
Ms Sharma has a few more, including the ability to deliver a child after having practised on a goat. So if you fly paper planes, MiG fighter jets await you. Just saying.
Kareena Kapoor seems destined to play various permutations and combinations of Geet from Jab We Met. While she is, no doubt, efficient, she’s also on auto pilot, robbing all Geet clones of any delight or surprise.
It’s all so safe and stock that she won’t even dare change her designer. So we get yet another Geet in similar ensembles, but of a different palette.
Imran Khan is powered by his cuteness. He is choo-chweet looking that we tolerate him. Take that away and he is really a terrible actor, his repertoire limited to pouting and posturing.
Thankfully, some interesting bits and baubles have been added to his character here.
For one, Sriram refuses to rescue the Iyer girl he’s engaged to, even after learning that she loves someone else.
He won’t recuse himself (the wrong usage of “recuse” being the joke of the week) from the impending wedding, and instead goads the girl to take action herself. I liked this contemporary shade.
I also liked that he was comfortable picking an Audi over an orphanage, and justified that by launching into a speech about how hypocritical Dia’s samaj seva is, sending her off to a village.
This trip to the village, which is essentially the film’s second half, adds some substance to this otherwise banal affair.
The film seems to say that the city must go to the gaon to make it better, a message very different from the one Dilip Saab’s Sagina Mahato and Shankar carried.
Unfortunately, this Bollywoodian, utopian village is in Gujarat — it’s all very colourful and vegetarian, and here Gori Ben becomes a sort of haloed devi.
Fortunately, though, the film makes a distinction between good and bad development, siding with development for people, not private enterprise.
'Gori Tere Pyaar Mein' embraces Gujarat and Gujaratis, and howsoever problematic that may be, it tries to say, by omission alone, that Modi is not Gujarat and Gujarat is not Modi. It depends entirely on your digestive system, how you process this message.
I felt my bile rising, but then it subsided. At the end of the film there’s no talk of marriage, just a celebration of a partnership where the woman will lead, and the boy will follow.