I seriously loathe American romantic comedies. I realize that sounds a bit hypocritical coming from a Bollywood-phile like myself. But while you, dear reader, may remain skeptical, I argue that Bollywood romcoms remain in a sphere separate from your typical romcom. Sure they both have the goofy meet cute deal where you have the ravishing heroine collide with a studly hero. (Boom! Bam! Voila! Sparks!) And both contain the usual mix of mishaps, misadventures, misinformed relatives and the like. But I watch Bollywood to practice my Hindi, catch up on the latest fashions and of course – to find new music.
The average modern American romcom, on the other hand, has little to redeem itself. Exceptions exist. Woody Allen can do fun things with romcoms. I’ll watch anything with Jimmy Stewart and Carey Grant. And of course, there’s Love Actually. Wait, that’s British. But overall, I find American romcoms vapid enough to induce nausea at the slightest exposure. Nowadays, when my friends drag me to the theater to see the latest Drew Barrymore romcom, I try not visibly gag and treat it as a sociological experiment or sorts. Why the human insistence on retreating to the fantasy of finding one true love when realistically, very few of us will? (And speaking of love, Pew Research Center showed that four in 10 Americans believe the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete.) But enough of this talk of love and doom. Let’s talk romcoms.
April 22nd marked the release of Nayan Padrai’s When Harry Tries to Marry (cue groan), a romcom about Harry (Rahul Rai), a 22-year old Indian-American determined to have an arranged marriage. Why does a young, hawt thang want to skip dating, sex and the like to follow the traditions of his forefathers? Because apparently his parents’ love marriage didn’t turn out right and he hopes to avoid their mistake. (*Facepalm.) So Harry goes on to India, accompanied by his college BFF, a gorgeous red-head who may or may not be in love with him. (I’ll tell you the answer, the lady doth crush on the young fellow.) Hijinks ensue.
Disclaimer, I have not seen the film nor do I intend to do so. But reviews so far are not so flattering. The New York Times writes: “Calling your romantic comedy “When Harry Tries to Marry” is a no-win proposition. Producing smarm at the high level of “When Harry Met Sally” requires special talent, and when you fall short all you’re left with is garden-variety smarm.” Although to be fair, the commenters under that post repeatedly described the film as “cute,” so I’m assuming it’s not very much worse than your average romcom. Then again, even the New York Post calls the film “silly.”
Anyway, if you do happen to watch it, lemme know what you think in the comments below.
Photo Credit: New York Times