Let's come to the point straight away. When you've films like Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar to your credit, every step you take, every move you make comes under a microscopic view. Naturally then, the expectations from Ashutosh Gowariker's What's Your Raashee? are monumental.
There's another reason why What's Your Raashee? is special. Casting the same actor in 12 different roles is nothing short of a challenge - for the filmmaker, for the writer and also for the actor in question.
Now let's analyze. What's Your Raashee? works in parts. There are 12 raashees, which means 12 independent stories, plus there's a story of the dulha (Hurman Baweja) and his family as well, also there's a story of a family-friend (Darshan Jariwala) running concurrently. That makes it 14 stories, 13 songs, approx. 3.20 hours running time...
Now to the vital question: Does What's Your Raashee? work?
Let me answer this question by raising a vital point. Did the running time (of 3 + hours] of SholayY, Hum Aapke Hain Koun, Lagaan, Jodhaa Akbar and Ghajini bother you? I am sure, it didn't. The problem with What's Your Raashee? is not its length/running time. The problem is its content.
If any film stands on a weak foundation (writing), even 1.30 hours seem never-ending. Conversely, if the writing is power-packed, even 3.30 hours of entertainment seems less. Let's not blame the length, for the biggest grosser of the world to date - Titanic - also had a running time of 3.17 hours.
What's Your Raashee?, unfortunately, lacks the power to keep you hooked and that's the prime reason why its running time/length is sure to be criticised.
Oh yes, What's Your Raashee? has some wonderful moments and award-worthy performance[s] by Priyanka Chopra, but everything pales into insignificance when the written material is weak.
To cut a long story short, What's Your Raashee? is a king-sized disappointment from one of the finest storytellers of India.
What's Your Raashee? is the story of Yogesh Patel (Hurman Baweja), a young man who, in his heart, has always wanted a love marriage. Till suddenly he is told that he must find his dream girl within ten days to save his family from utter ruin. Finding the dream girl is tough enough. Finding her in a hurry is even tougher.
His solution is simple; he will meet one girl from each raashee - sun sign, as he feels that is the best way to make sure he finds a suitable wife, while also giving himself twelve chances to fall in love. Two meetings per day gives him six days to meet them, three days to make the final decision and he can get married on the tenth day, or so he thinks.
Based on the novel 'Kimball Ravenswood' by Madhu Rye, the concept of What's Your Raashee? is interesting, but the big screen adaptation isn't. To start with, you connect with barely a few stories, mainly the one who has a past and also the final one, of an underage girl. But several stories appear ridiculous and hence, ruin the impact generated by several wonderful moments. The jeweller's daughter, who believes in punar janam, falls flat. Ditto for the other jeweller's daughter, who pretends to be childish so as to test the intentions of the dulha. It's farcical. But the most ludicrous one is the businesswoman who has a pre-nuptial agreement in place, even before meeting the dulha.
Even Darshan Jariwala's track, towards the end specifically, tests the patience of the viewer. The detective drama is also ludicrous. Besides, the climax is far from convincing. The nanaji appears suddenly with a bagful of currency and the dues of the moneylenders and goons are settled soon after the saat pheras. How convenient!
Even the choice of the girl is debatable, since she has chosen him on a rebound (when she found that her lover was cheating on her). In fact, the dulha had, rightfully, thought of the girl with the past and should've settled with her instead. That would've been a convincing finale.
Ashutosh Gowariker gets it wrong this time thanks to the poor screenplay. The writing is the biggest culprit here. Sohail Sen's music is easy on the ears, but why so many songs? A few songs can easily be deleted. Piyush Shah's cinematography is perfect.
What's Your Raashee? belongs to Priyanka Chopra. No two opinions on that. Words would fail to do justice to the remarkable portrayal of twelve different characters by this actor. This is her finest work to date. Hurman is extremely likable and enacts his part with complete understanding. Darshan Jariwala is alright. Anjan Srivastava is as usual. Visshwa Badola is first-rate. Pratik Dixit does well.
On the whole, What's Your Raashee? is a king-sized disappointment.
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5*
Starring: Harman Baweja, Priyanka Chopra, Anjan Srivastava, Visshwa Badola, Rajesh Vivek, Dilip Joshi, Daya Shanker Pandey ...
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker