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Gori Tere Pyaar Mein (Girl... In Your Love)
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by Jay Seaver

"A bridge not far enough."
3 stars

"Gori Tere Pyaar Mein" is a movie about a layabout becoming a productive and charitable member of society, and maybe it takes that lesson too well to heart. For all that there are moments of it being sweet, boisterous, or funny, the need to do the right thing (and talk about doing so) overwhelms it. A romantic comedy doesn't necessarily need to be packed full of jokes, but falling in love should probably have a little more fun and a little less duty.

As things start out, Sriram Venkat (Imran Khan) is all about fun - since returning to Bangalore from receiving his education in America, he's been quite the playboy. After the latest disappointment, his parents decide the thing to do is arrange a marriage, and good luck - Vasudha Natrajan (Shraddha Kapoor) is beautiful, intelligent... and in love with someone else, though she lacks the nerve to defy her parents and marry her Punjabi boyfriend. Her social conscience reminds Sriram of the last girl he had a serious relationship with, Dia Sharma (Kareena Kapoor), though he eventually drove her away.

Perhaps the opening half of this movie goes a little more smoothly for fans of Indian film who recognize which actress was second-billed in the opening titles when she shows up on-screen. Those of us who can't quite keep our Kapoors straight might initially think that Shraddha is the intended leading lady while the flashbacks to Kareena's Dia are just "crazy ex-girlfriend" bits, and be confused by how the film continues returning to her (by "might", I mean "this happened with me"). Either way, the jumping back to various points in Sriram's and Dia's relationship is still probably not the ideal way to go about it; the audience's first exposure to Dia is at her least personable, and the moments where she is meant to be warm, funny, and unpredictable seem like the exceptions instead of who she really is. Vasu's attentive skepticism makes the audience to want him to prove himself to her, not the girl from back when.

That's not what the movie's going to be like after the intermission, though, when there's a new setting, a tighter focus on Sriram and Dia in the present, and a new story that gives Sriram a way to prove himself. That's not actually a bad thing, though; the story may get tugged back and forth as obstacles appear (and sometimes resolve) almost randomly, but stuff gets done, and generally in a pleasant enough way that the balance between pontificating on what is Important In Life and actually making the audience laugh out loud isn't too far out of whack.

Imran Khan is good for a lot of that amiable feeling. Many Bollywood comedies will tend to play the feckless kid who needs to learn responsibility as broadly disparaging at first before getting quietly serious (and boring), but Khan plays Sriram as more oblivious as things start out, favoring a look of confusion at how his being self-centered is really a problem, before becoming basically the same guy but more engaged as the movie goes on. He doesn't quite squeeze greatness out of bad jokes, but he makes things work a lot more than they otherwise might have.

Kareena Kapoor doesn't quite have as much to work with - she's off-screen for much of the first half - and while she does eventually seem to find a tone for Dia that works, she's not able to rise above the relatively weak story; she often seems to be trying too hard when it's time for Dia to be funny but not adding a hint of that when she's grumpy. Shraddha Kapoor (no relation) gets a better chance to make a good first impression, and does okay at showing Vasu's desire to be a dutiful daughter and also follow her heart, but gets a bit bland once the movie tips that she's just a means to an end. Anupam Kher dives into a kind of ridiculous second-half villain, but his spite and greed aren't made interesting or gloriously evil.

The pattern here seems to be that the script by Arshad Sayed and Punit Malhotra is underdone, a potentially entertaining idea for a romantic comedy that needs to be fleshed out a little more rather than just casting the quite likable Khan and Kapoors and hoping for the best. Malhotra does a reasonable job in the director's chair, considering; there's a pleasant feeling of momentum at times, especially going into and coming out of the intermission, and while the songs often feel like dropped-in music videos, they're good ones. There's at least a spark of life and ambition there.

Some movies are more than the sum of their parts; "Gori Tere Pyaar Mein", as it turns out, is close to exactly what goes into it. And since it's got some good pieces, it's not a bad way to pass two and a half hours. That only gets a picture so far, though, and this one just doesn't have the necessary kick to make it to the next level.

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originally posted: 11/27/13 14:11:47
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Directed by
  Punit Malhotra

Written by
  Arshad Sayed
  Punit Malhotra

  Imran Khan
  Kareena Kapoor
  Anupam Kher
  Shraddha Kapoor

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