I so much wanted to like ‘Gori Tere Pyaar Mein‘, if for nothing else, but Dia’s (Kareena Kapoor) character. She is an activist, someone who genuinely is concerned about the world around her, and does what she can to make a difference.
The role is well-written, in the sense, that often Dia comes out as too well-meaning, naive, maybe even making the wrong judgements. But she is real. As is her foil, Sriram (Imran Khan) who really does not care about anyone else but his comfort. After a stint in the US, he has come back to India, largely indifferent to his family, the country, the state of things, though he remains good-humored through it all. What he wants more than anything else is that big, swanky car. He is amoral, and even when he follows Dia to the village, and makes an effort to help the villagers, it is only because he wants Dia back.
There is a little bit of concession given to the Hindi film hero, of course, in that, it is Sriram with his charm and his wits, who saves the situation, and actually manages to get the villagers the bridge they need. But Dia to the end remains true to her self. Even when she is attracted to Sriram, and in a relationship with him, she does not lose her sense of what she considers right, and she is not going to give up on her work, even as we see them leaving the village behind, their work there accomplished.
The problem with the film is that apart from its main characters, it is poorly written. Once again, as with most romantic comedies being made these days, secondary characters are stock, and kept to the minimum. What filmmakers don’t realize that in fact this takes off some of the charm of the lead actors, as by the end of the film, we feel fatigue at having to see mostly their two faces.
The village story is a necessary add-on, and even keeping aside the patronizing attitude of urban do-gooders, bringing solace to the poor villagers, it reeks of a certain kind of ignorance of village life on the part of the director (Punit Malhotra) and scriptwriter (Arshad Syed and Punit Malhotra). To be fair to them, early on, they make references to films like Sholay, Lagaan and Swades, as if to make it clear that all they know about villages is through films.
However to get back to Dia, it’s been a long, long time since one actually saw a heroine at work, and very rarely does one see, her work and her need to achieve something driving the plot, so it’s a pity that the film was not made better, and therefore, failed to connect to the audience.
In the light of Sharmila Tagore’s articulate address on ‘Popular Stereotyping’ in Hindi films, it would have been good if her daughter-in-law’s film had been a hit, only for the role etched out in Dia.