Positive points: Priyanka and Harman, creative script and several hilarious moments
Negative points: Way too long, weak climax
After mastering the art of period flicks, acclaimed director Ashutosh Gowariker is back with a three-and-a-half-hour romantic comedy that tests your patience repeatedly but is still thoroughly entertaining.
Gowariker takes a giant leap into foreign territory with What’s Your Raashee? starring Harman Baweja and twelve different Priyanka Chopra’s. In fact, this film marks several firsts for the ace director. It is his first film without A.R. Rahman as a composer, has the most songs out of any of his films, is his quickest production to date and challenging in a way that his period epics may not have been.
After all, when you have the incredibly versatile Priyanka Chopra playing twelve different characters, things are bound to get a little confusing, aren’t they? The fact that Gowariker is able to masterfully integrate each of her characters into the film is Raashee‘s biggest strength. Alas, like all his films, the running time is seriously trying on the audience who begins to feel their legs going numb after the third hour.
The film, which is based on Madhu Rye’s Gujarati novel Kimball Ravenswood, follows NRI Yogesh Patel (Harman Baweja) on his quest to find a bride in order to save his family from financial ruin. However, his romantic ideals go for a complete toss when he realizes he only has twelve days to achieve to find the right woman. He decides to meet a woman from each zodiac sign (raashee), each played by Priyanka Chopra in different avatars. With the help of his uncle Devu (Darshan Jariwala), Yogesh frantically searches for love while trying to cope with a family that is more like a circus.
The initial premise may not be the most logical plot of all, but there is enough substance to make you go along for the ride. The side plots are a bit irritating and often remind you of good films from the nineties that are unnecessarily sidetracked by extra storylines that seem forced. In this case, it is the portions about Devu and his suspecting wife that mark the points in the film where you check your watch.
Thankfully, the main plot is hilarious, thanks to the unique characters played by Priyanka Chopra. Some of them stay with you after the film is over while others are easily forgettable. My favourites of the lot were Anjali (Aries), Chandrika (Pisces), Rajni (Libra), Pooja (Virgo) and Jhankana (Capricorn). I’m sure that each viewer will have their own favourites–but I guarantee that the geeky Anjali will be a hit in everyone’s eyes! Thankfully, it doesn’t get too tedious as Yogesh meets each woman and the audience never feels too overwhelmed.
Sohail Sen’s musical store is truly a masterpiece, giving each raashee her very own tune to be identified with throughout the film. With fourteen songs, a large chunk of the film is made up of music. Most of the songs are seamlessly woven into the narrative with a few exceptions (‘Dhadkan Dhadkan’ and ‘Maanunga Maanunga’). The choreography is good in some tracks (i.e. the title track which is brilliant) but ‘Aaja Lehraate’ could have been so much better.
This film entirely rests on Priyanka Chopra’s sturdy shoulders, as she literally re-invents herself twelve times. Even after proving herself in films like Fashion and Kaminey recently, she is such a revelation. Few actresses could have mastered each role with such perfection. She does her best work with Anjali, whose body language and voice modulation she perfects. She is so incredibly believable in each avatar that you often have to remember that it’s the same actress playing each role. Chopra is the reason this film works.
Harman Baweja improves vastly from his earlier two films, and shows off his comic timing well. I was not expecting to enjoy his performance so much but he sprung a great surprise and proves that despite his films failing at the box office, he’s got a lot of talent. He lets Priyanka take the spotlight while ably playing off of each of her characters.
The entire supporting cast is excellent; particularly Darshan Jariwala and Anjaan Srivastav who are pitch perfect.
Co-writers Gowariker and Naushil Mehta do a fantastic job of making you laugh; sometimes a line will make you smile and other times you will downright laugh out loud. Unfortunately, after building up the plot for three hours, the writers let us down with a climax that seems terribly contrived and disappointing. I won’t give away who Yogesh ends up with, if anyone, but I can safely say that the ending did not leave me satisfied.
At three-and-a-half hours, the film is just way too long. The sad part is that there are so many scenes (in fact, entire sections of the plot) that could have been removed to make the film more smooth and enjoyable. The film is expected to be long, especially with twelve heroines and fourteen songs, but by the time you get to the tenth raashee you are already looking for the climax. The length is easily What’s Your Raashee‘s biggest downfall.
Thankfully, Chopra and Baweja have enough chemistry to keep you engaged and the funny script makes Raashee a film worth your time. It’s a creative romantic comedy that will most certainly make you laugh even if you do get impatient towards the end. In fact, the film is worth watching just for Priyanka Chopra who seriously outdoes herself, showcasing her versatility in a single film. Like Chopra, Ashutosh Gowariker proves his versatility as a director, showing audiences that he can do more than craft dramatic films.
When the film is over, don’t be surprised if you ask the person next to you–“what’s your raashee?”
What’s Your Raashee? was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 19 and will be released worldwide on Sept. 25.