What's Your Raashee?
- Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker
- Written by Ashutosh Gowariker and Naushil Mehta
- Starring Priyanka Chopra, Harman Baweja
- Classification: PG
- Cultural relativism can hinder as much as help when it comes to big Bollywood movies.
For an uninitiated Western viewer, intrigued by Slumdog Millionaire 's Indian film references, What's Your Raashee? likely won't be as over-the-top splashy as hoped, nor as exotic and unconventional as the film's publicity promises. Instead, it is a straightforward, innocent comedy about arranged marriages, made for already ardent Bollywood fans.
The film's 190-minute running time lies squarely on the shoulders of two of India's biggest stars: the smooth, sleepy-eyed male idol Harman Baweja and former Miss World-turned-megastar Priyanka Chopra.
Baweja's upwardly mobile character is studying for an MBA in Chicago while DJ-ing part-time at night - super-successful guy that he is. But he has to drop everything to fly home to quickly search for a bride. Cartoonish gangsters are threatening his less-focused brother, and Baweja's character needs to get married to collect an inheritance which in turn save his brother from danger. To do this, the man decides to choose between 12 young women, all with different zodiac signs, who have answered his online marriage ad.
The film is loosely based on Madhu Rye's novel Kimball Ravenswood .
As it turns out, all 12 women - running the gamut from gawky girl to beautiful career woman to spiritual Earth mother - are played by Chopra. This is the draw of the film, to see how she handles the very different roles, which she does with zest. But given the film's musical-comedy parameters, every role is also a type, not a multilayer character to unravel. So while Chopra, a natural on camera, carries off the parts so effectively that you start rooting for one or another to be chosen as the bride, the film's commercial sheen makes it all feel like "acting."
The film does say a lot about varying perceptions of arranged marriage in India. But the tone is lighthearted throughout, and director Ashutosh Gowariker (a major name in Indian cinema) is deathly careful not to offend.
Those looking for exotica won't find it here, unless your criteria includes such nuances as the unusually bright cinematography (typical of Bollywood movies, since it compensates for technically poor cinemas where films may screen) or the synthetic pop songs aimed at a global market. The rest is harmless entertainment aimed at fans of the two stars, particularly Chopra's growing audience. who follow her from one Bollywood hit to the next.
Did I mention that this film is 190 minutes long?