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What’s Your Raashee (2009)

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What's Your Raashee?

What’s Your Raashee? is Ashutosh Gowariker’s sardonic way of asking ‘what’s your patience’ (or ‘how far can your bladder hold’ as an Indian critic has unabashedly pointed out). The Lagaan director (and hardcore Swadesi) had seriously lost his marbles as he ran out of patience and dignity during an awards show when he derided Priyanka Chopra’s Best Actress win for Fashion saying Aishwariya Rai should have won for Jodhaa-Akbar. Gowariker has directed the Mughal magnum opus and so his very public outburst was perceived as him trying to gain favour with the Bachchans. Of course, after all this, Priyanka stars in this venture.

Poor Harman Baweja though, that he got dragged into it. He, as always, looks eerily like a Xerox copy of Hrithik Roshan and playing a cool NRI on a bride hunt doesn’t do much for him. But his silently sizzling chemistry with alleged old flame Priyanka Chopra might make the venture worth it even if it bombs at the box office (which there’s a fair chance of).

A regurgitated Bollywood spin-off of the Gujrati novel Kimball Ravenswood, What’s Your Raashee? revolves around the efforts of Baweja’s family trying to wed him off in 10 days so he can be the grand recipient of his grandfather’s fortune and thereby pay off his elder brother’s debt, so saving them from bankruptcy and the infamous debt collecting thugs. It’s a story line with great potential for inane humour, but that unfortunately is spaced far away in between the scenes. However, to be fair, when it does strike, it really does tickle that funny bone.

Even so, a few moments of glee are not enough to distract one from the reality that the film is, in its most basic form, a trite pointless chick flick. With a plot that moves at a deathly dull pace (enough to make you feel that you may just die in the theatre without any respite) and a series of characters that bore far more than they entertain, What’s Your Raashee? brutally proves that Gowariker really cannot make a commercial film. His is a painful attempt at a sorry version of a romantic comedy. The genre should really be left solely to the David Dhawans and Karan Johars of Bollywood who really know their trade.

The only thing that the film does manage to do however, and do well, is to depict what a versatile and multifaceted actress Priyanka Chopra is. After the smashing hit that Kaminey was, What’s Your Raashee? may be the thing to push Piggy Chops (that’s what they call her in Bollywood) to the top and of course the slimmed down figure helps immensely. Donning an astounding 12 characters, each so completely different from the other (kudos to the costume designer and stylist), and lending them each individuality, depth (well as much as she could manage in the 10 minutes allotted to that character) and emotion, is no easy feat. And even though all 12 characters naturally retain Priyanka’s original (for lack of a better expression) ‘face’ she manages to infuse the distinct attributes and traits of each raashee (zodiac sign) into each character. If you’re confused, as Baweja’s grandfather in the film elucidates, Baweja tries to picture his dream girl in all the women he meets and hence they all look the same.

Apart from being an excellent vehicle for Prianka Chopra’s acting chops, the film becomes far too formulaic; introduce the zodiac sign, depict its strengths through the character, put in a few stereotypes and social taboos, throw in a song, show romantic involvement, move on to the next one. Gowariker really couldn’t steer himself away from his penchant for making issue-based films and tries to force in too many social ills like dowry, the taboo that is pre-marital sex and virginity, underage marriage, ambition and career all onto one single otherwise palette.

At first this structure seems a rather ingenious way to propel the storyline forward, but after witnessing a tirade of Priyankas in different shapes and forms, it gets a bit too tedious, so much so that one begins to cringe in the knowledge that another song is to follow.

The musical score though is fresh, gelling in well with each segment of the film; creating 12 songs, one for each zodiac sign-character is quite ambitious but done well. The film opens with a fantastic fusion of jazz that lends a sensual feel to the film as it goes on to form the background score as well. Nonetheless a repetitive plodding structure and plot render all that effort futile since the overall sense one gets while viewing the end product is of being stuck in a time warp. What’s Your Raashee? is a film that you can only watch once (that too for Priyanka) and at the cost of wasting away a good four hours of your life. You have been warned – Hani Taha Salim (Rating – 2.5 OUT OF 5)

Cast and Production Credits

Year – 2009, Genre – Comedy, Country – India, Language – Hindi, Producer – Ronnie Screwvala, Sunita Gowariker, Director – Ashutosh Gowariker, Music Director – Sohail Sen, Cast – Priyanka Chopra, Harman Baweja, Anjan Shrivastava, Visswa Badola, Rajesh Vivek, Dilip Joshi, Daya Shankar Pandey, Honey Chhaya, Darshan Jariwala, Manju Singh, Bhairavi Vaidya, Pratik Dixit, Manoj Shah, Dr. Ajit Kulkarni, Geeta Tyagi

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