Sunday, September 15, 2013

Making my case for SDR

I read this post called "Nothing Shuddh about this romance" in an India Today article and I knew what I wanted to write. Yes, I watched the film. In fact I watched the movie the week it released and I'm not going to lie, I liked the movie. First of all because I happened to get off work early to go watch it, I mean how many times does that happen? Right? So yes, SDR was a fun film. It left me with a smile on my face, I caught myself nodding throughout the movie about the message that was being passed. But my liking the movie is not why I'm writing this post, it's because for the last week or so, everyone I've met has been telling me I've been wrong in liking it.

Ok, let me begin by telling you that I liked SDR because of its simplicity.  Two and a half hours dedicated to telling you why you shouldn't be married if you don't want to be. You shouldn't be married if you aren't in the space to commit to a complex thing like marriage.Don't be married because society thinks it's the right thing.  I think that's a very good message to send out. It's not complicated, it's not you conventional parents don't approve of the rishta, mother seriously ill, father is a don type nonsense, there is no dushmani in the biradari shit!

Gayatri just before she runs away from her own wedding
The plot begins with the groom (Raghuram) preparing for his wedding with a woman (Tara) who he hasn't been acquainted with. On the way to his own wedding he meets Gayatri. Gayatri is the no nonsense, loves her independence, emotional, has been in and out of love before, loves life, lives on her own, total self made chick. She takes classes and has an alternate career as a paid baarati. Now, while many people think such a thing does not exist, it really does. Many reviews said that the reason Raghu leaves his own wedding is the brief moment of intimacy that he has with Gayatri. But that's not really the case, Raghu is smitten by Gayatri no doubt, but there is also the part where he is clearly unsure about his wedding and in terms of getting married, even a moment of doubt can ruin everything and SDR is proof for that. SDR has a lot of people running away from their own weddings, something that you have to acknowledge, happens.

Tara and Raghu in love
The characters in  the movie interact with each other quite freely and nothing about the dynamics of their relationship is left to the audience's imagination. Raghu is clearly in love with Gayatri, who he chooses to live in with. Gayatri is very clear of her expectation from the relationship. Raghu is also very sure about how he feels for Gayatri. There is no dillydallying in their feelings for each other which is a great change from your regular, may be.. may be not... type story. As their relationship progresses Gayatri and Raghu in a drunken stupor suggest they get married and the arrangements for which are made by Mr Goyal (Rishi Kapoor) who acts as the father figure who people turn to for advice.  All this running away business can leave you quite confused about what is actually happening. Do people want or not want to get married? Here's the sad reality, most people are confused. The movie shuttles between Tara , Gayatri and Raghu. Tara makes a comeback in the second half. All three characters are joined by the fact that they've either been run away from or been the ones that ran away. Tara falls in love with Raghu and so does Raghu.

When many people question the "LOGIC" to this film I have only a few words to say 'Ra.One', Ek tha Tiger', Chennai Express, Vivaah, Raanjhana. Please do not ask me to defend this film in terms of logic. As for being out there with all the kissing and the making out, boohoo! This is Bollywood, I think we're way past the "shaarif kids" so let's not talk about "Character" or the "Urban youth"  and definitely let's steer clear of  "Culture and tradition".  An audience that is currently being wowed by Grand Masti and in the past has loved Kya Kool hai hum, Kya SuperKool hai hum and Masti shouldn't really talk about the pious nature of hindi cinema.

I'll tell you what, all criticism levied against this film is hypocritical to say the least. Yes, Raghu runs away from his wedding because he thinks he doesn't know the girl enough. He even attempts to tell her the same but that's not possible, as a last resort he takes off. No, no one would like for their fiance to run away from the mandap, no I am not justifying it. But given how much pressure weddings create, could you blame someone for taking such a drastic step? Again, hypothetical discussion because I'm hoping anyone that gets married definitely knows their partner well enough to commit!

The second insane criticism I heard was the fact that people didn't relate to Tara, How is that?How can you not relate to a strong willed woman whose entire identity does not depend on a man she is married to? Why is it difficult for anyone to believe that she moved on with her life? To people who think that Tara is an unnecessary character who doesn't really need to comeback must realise that there is such a thing called closure. Tara needs to know why he ran away. Raghu needs to tell her why. That's simple. It's really the only expectation that Tara has. The fact that she falls in love with him is a plot twist. This is Bollywood and a Rom-com at that. Please expect nothing different. She also falls out of love with him. That to me was pretty great. The fact that this story is still not about the great sacrifice that Tara makes to see the true love in her life live with the true love of his life makes it wonderful to watch. If you expect Tara to stay in love with this guy for the rest of her life and put her life on hold, I must ask you the question; Have you never seen anyone moving on with their life? (Which also begs the question, how many people outside of your parents do you know?)

Well another ridiculous allegation was about how Raghu and Gayatri pretend to be brother and sister. Okay, hold on. They don't pretend to be brother and sister. They lie. That's different. I could tell you this is the greatest blog in the world, that don't make it the truth! Seriously, I've heard people tagging themselves with fake brothers sometimes to save themselves from their parents, cousins, friends or even their actual brothers. So big deal, they lied. They never were brother and sister. They didn't say anything close to "He is like my brother" or "She is like my muh boli behen" So, sorry. Lying? Not really that big an issue with Bollywood, is it?

The third bit that I could agree with and not at the same time is how does Gayatri's father who lives in Assam not make an appearance? Well, while one is right is asking how can an Indian wedding  happen without close family, I would assume that this movie is taking creative licence in assuming that the father is a non existent figure in her life which is also why she doesn't make too much of a issue with it.

SDR is really about what people feel if they had an open playing field? Do they still feel societal pressure? Do they still feel obligated to be in relationships? What is their take on relationships? It's like a social experiment that begins with "Imagine there was no judgement and you were having second thoughts about being married..... What would happen?". Most people would probably do what Raghu did. Lots of people do that even after knowing that they would be crucified for wanting out of a marriage at the last minute. 

Tara or Gayatri's characters are not the ones of the stereotypical girlfriend. They are very very grounded in reality. Nobody loses their mind, yes, people get upset, they are very uncomfortable but they move on. Gayatri or Tara are not your Bollywood's love struck heroines who throw away their life over the guy they couldn't be with. When Raghu's character speaks to the audience, he makes a very level headed assessment of his situation. Of course you may not really approve of his actions. I know I don't really like the idea of a runaway bride/groom, but then weirder things have been known to happen in Hindi films.

All this running away tamasha happens with the Bathroom in the back. The Bathroom acts like a metaphor for escape.  You've seen Rachel run away from her wedding in the early 2000's this is 2013 and nothing should surprise you.  The entire plot really boils down to the one question of  "Are you ready?"


  1. Love is among the most subjective things in the world, like religion, faith and morality. I read you article twice and while I totally respect your thoughts on the matter, I have a question to ask - is it justified for the other person in the marriage/relation when the other one starts having second thoughts all of sudden? you can argue that it might be for the best at the end...but then doesnt it become like 'Love in the time of Cholera' then?

    1. Any relationship is prone to change, withering and even a slow painful demise and romantic relationships are not an exception. Quite often, people think love is supposed to be permanent! That's the problem with books or movies they paint that picture.

      Secondly, is it justified? well,The reason anyone has these thoughts is because they are unhappy. How can someone who is unhappy with a particular situation ignore the situation? If I'm unhappy with something, even at the cost of being selfish I am allowed to (if not expected) to change it and yes, it may cause significant amount of pain.


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