Variety magazine described GTPM as “a moderately well-executed romantic comedy” and I wholeheartedly agree! Despite some of its lackluster moments, I found it to be a total paisa-vasool family entertainment. Sadly, it opened to a lukewarm box office reception and mixed reviews by the same folks who heralded the corniness of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, the absurdity of Chennai Express, and the Ishqzaade of Ramleela as “coming-of-age”, “comeback of King Khan” and men “cumming” by watching a busty and tharki Leela on screen, respectively. I do not intend to belittle the hard work of the teams involved in all those movies. Allow me to highlight some positives – YJHD allowed a 40 plus actress to perform in an item number, Chennai Express allowed North Indians to pay tribute to South Indians with a lungi dance, and Ramleela demonstrated deeper aspects of communal violence that is evident in the way Congress and BJP blame each other.
Like any movie, GTPM has its share of flaws. Firstly, the title is a tad racist. Then we have oddities like Kareena’s manicured nails as she delivers babies in the village, Imran’s Tamilian avatar and his over-usage of Rayban sunglasses and finally, the commonly used cliche of Punjabi/South Indian/Gujurati culture mashup. But here’s what the movie doesn’t have and perhaps that is what led to its poor box-office opening.
- Titillating rape scenes
- Pelvis thrusting, bottle smashing, ludicrous abuse hurling dialogues
- Over-the-top gun violence
- Kareena in a overly dolled up and dumbed down avatar. In fact, some may even classify her simple village look as a “bhenji.”
- Item songs where the surrounding men look like borderline rapists. It’s rather hilarious how US gives sexy female names to hurricanes and India accords the same to actresses. Just imagine if Orissa reported a Hurricane Babli one day!
On the whole, GTPM is a rather peaceful movie that inspires individuals to contribute their time, knowledge, and funds towards the real development of the nation , albeit in a light-hearted and entertaining way, unlike Gowariker’s more artistically refined Swades. Speaking of Gowariker, there are also some sweet and gentle tributes to Lagaan, fittingly by Aamir’s nephew. The movie briefly touches upon some serious undertones about the prevalent decay of society such as the selling of real estate for building malls instead of public parks or orphanages but it is overshadowed by the dispersed sense of humor. Overall, let me present five reasons why GTPM delivers beyond the rom-com.
1. Promotion of Environmentalism and Anti-Corruption
Little gestures of Kareena convincing Imran to pick up his litter from the street, or bigger ones of stopping a local politician (Anupam Kher) from usurping a great chunk of the village property to setup a chemical plant that would ultimately pollute the underground water and destroy the lives of the villagers — they are all indicative of the moral conscience we should carry for our nation’s cleanliness and eco-friendly development.
2. Reverse Brain-drain of Specialized Labor
Brain-drain is common term to exemplify the movement of skilled, educated citizens from one country (source of drain) to another country (source of gain) for better opportunities. In this movie, you see a US educated Imran apply his architectural engineering skills to build a bridge in a rural town in Gujurat that would allow greater accessibility of resources and educational opportunities between the village and the neighboring towns and cities. Yes, it sounds corny but the message is critical.
Special note on engineers and other specialized professions: As a business student, I am absolutely delighted when engineers try to put down business and humanities students because they suggest our course work is meaningless when compared to their four-year intensive all-nighters and “nobel” research (Do remember that Economics and Literature are Nobel fields for a reason). If you are truly passionate about your background and “build bridges” so to speak, I salute you. E.Sreedharan, a civil engineer, who served as a Managing director of Delhi Metro from 1995-2012 is a prime example. But if you pursued a degree based on the job market and/or coercion from your parents and end up working in the same corporations as the business and humanities students, then I sincerely hope you don’t burn those same bridges with your employers.
3. Learning to Let Go of One’s Ego and Promotion of Vegetarianism
Imran’s love for Kareena brings him all the way from self-centered lifestyle in Bangalore to the poor and remote community where she volunteers full-time. He is a meat enthusiast but is disappointed to note that everyone is a vegetarian in that rural area. Eventually, you see him transform from a complaining attitude about vegetarian food to feeding grains to the village animals. Kareena doesn’t force this change upon him, even though she is a vegetarian herself. The movie exemplifies how a man can let go of things that his body can do without, by learning to let go of his ego.
4. Female Empowerment
Kareena’s pizazz, her social activist spirit, her memorable slogans and dialogues that exude self-reliance and confidence were all very refreshing for sure. She outsmarts corrupt politicians, researches the health of sex workers in the red light area, exposes Imran’s cheating behavior, stands firmly on her principles, and does all of it with remarkable ease. (I realize it is just a movie but I aspire to do the same in real life.) Her acting prowess may not be given full credit in this movie but she carries the same boisterous attitude of Geet in Jab We Met and the demure look of Dolly Mishra from Omkara. She even makes amends by moving to a village after Imran calls her a hypocrite for living a sheltered life as a social worker in her parent’s comfortable home in Bangalore. It may sound far-fetched until you realize that her character’s feat is something we all hope to do someday for our own country but we are too afraid, too comfortable, and many times, too eager for change but not patient enough to tolerate the changes it takes within us. There is also one scene where a village woman serves food to Imran just hours after she delivers a child. My grandma would recount tales of how women in her village would get right back to working in the fields after an illness or pregnancy so this speaks wonders about the strength of the village woman.
Say whaaaa? 🙂
5. Overcoming Superstitions and Addictions
There are several societal issues and status quos that the movie aims to eliminate better than a Chetan Bhagat book. It promotes loving inter-state/inter-caste/inter-esting marriages through two predominant couples in the movie. In another scene, Kareena starts to single-handedly work towards the completion of the bridge, even though no one is inclined to help because the villagers hailed that month as inauspicious for working on any project in fear of evil curse of some dead forefathers. Observing her diligence at work, the villagers eventually relent and chip in, demonstrating how one person can spark the necessary unity. As far as addictions are concerned, we see repeated glimpses of a villager who wastes away his time on paan and hookah, thereby neglecting his wife and kids. When all the villagers are required to join forces to build the bridge together, the man throws away his smoking pipe as a sign of quitting his addiction.
So folks, aap convince ho gaye ki main aur boloon? 🙂
Go watch “Gori Tere Pyaar Main”! It is entertaining and wittingly refreshing after a spate of Shuddh Desi horny romance, mediocre comedy, children’s sci-fi Krishh and violent love stories that leave you depressed and mentally disillusioned.
p.s. I also plan to sue the makers for making Kareena’s character so similar to me – a dosa loving, NGO volunteering, female empowerment activist and vegetarian. Ok babajee, sorry for the ego trip but I really loved this movie! Cheers.