Shuddh Desi Romance – A “Desi” Live-in Relationship

Shuddh Desi Romance Sushant Singh Rajput sex Parineeti Chopra Vaani Kapoor | Unmysh 2020

Maneesh Sharma’s Shuddh Desi Romance wasn’t the first film in Bollywood that dealt with the issues of commitment, marriages and live-in relationships. Yes, it wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last one either.

Before Shuddh Desi Romance, we had 2005’s Salaam Namaste and after we got the forgettable 2019’s Luka Chuppi

While it’s true that Salaam Namaste also dealt with similar issues, Shuddh Desi Romance marked the first time that topics like “live-in” and “commitment” were placed in a desi, non-urban setting.

(A PSA before I continue further – I had planned to publish this article in June. However, the untimely demise of the 34-year-old star, Sushant Singh Rajput, made me postpone this article by a month. The timing, I felt, just wasn’t appropriate.) 

Parineeti Chopra and Sushant Singh Rajput move in together

Shuddh Desi Romance is set in Jaipur, Rajasthan. As I stated earlier, a story about commitment issues and live-in relationships were unheard of in a tier-2 city.

After running away from his arranged marriage to Tara (Vaani Kapoor), Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput) moves in with Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra).

A little backstory here, Raghu and Gayatri had shared a kiss on the bus that was on the way to Raghu’s wedding. Such forthrightness of Gayatri attracted Raghu and that’s what triggered his commitment phobia.

Shuddh Desi Romance had a great album. Enjoy Parineeti Chopra and Sushant Singh Rajput’s performance in Tere Mere Beech Mein.

As a stereotypical Indian man, Raghu runs after the free, kissing-whoever-she-wants Gayatri in hopes of a “modern” relationship.

Gayatri, being a free bird that she is, declines Raghu’s offer of a relationship.

Instead, Raghu proposes a live-in, friends with benefits relationship.

I’m paraphrasing here, but he says, “Friendship nahi karni tumse aur naa hi bhai banna hai. Jo hain saaf bata raha hu, attraction hai aur tez wala attraction hai. Control ke bahar. Toh baar-baar ye friends banna hai mat bolo.

(I don’t want friendship. Look, I am attracted to you. It’s beyond control. So, please don’t say ‘let’s just be friends’.”)

To this, Tara replies, “Boyfriend mein doosra word friend hota hai.” (The second word in boyfriend is “friend”.) 

Raghu is quick to point out that there’s “boy” in boyfriend, as well. To be honest, I still don’t understand his point, but he manages to convince her, so what the hell!

Stereotyping genders in Shuddh Desi Romance

Gayatri asks Raghu to kiss her. Raghu obliges.

As she pulls away, she asks him to check her pulse. Raghu says it might be around 100-150. 

She explains, “Ye hi hota hain mujhe jab main kisiko apna maan kar baith jaati hoon. Par tum toh ladke ho, tumhe sirf wahan hoga (points at bed).” (This is what happens when I fall for someone. But you’re a guy, you’ll only experience it there {points at bed}).

As a guy, I’ve never quite understood the stereotype of “men only care about sex”. However, the stereotype of “women are not as horny as men” is much more problematic, in my opinion. 

Movies, especially Bollywood films, have enabled this thought of “women would never ask for sex” to a point that men assume sex is on the cards whenever they are aroused.

It got so bad that there had to campaigns to spell out “NO means NO” and educate the masses on the importance of consent. 

This is what bad stereotyping can do to a community. 

If Gayatri really were a free-spirit, she never would’ve said such things.

A girl who claims to have had her fair share of flings, a girl who kissed a groom on the way to his wedding, would never have her heartbeat around 100-150 over a kiss. She’s not a teenager.

Come on, Bollywood. You take one step in the right direction but compensate that with two in the totally opposite direction. 

Shuddh Desi Romance was a breakout film for Sushant Singh Rajput as it was his first film as a lead actor.

I would still overlook Shuddh Desi Romance’s shortcomings as it took the initiative towards the “desi” storytelling.

However, 7 years have passed and movies like Luka Chuppi, Love Aaj Kal and De De Pyaar De have proved that we have only regressed. 

So, in Sushant Singh Rajput’s memory, here’s to Shuddh Desi Romance, a movie that started something that could’ve been revolutionary. Just like its star.

Like our segment on Shuddh Desi Romance? We announce a scene of the week every Saturday. Don’t forget to come back for more. Meanwhile, check out which scene made Unmysh’s list of scene of the week here

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