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Gori Tere Pyaar Mein! is Imran Khan’s and Kareena Kapoor’s second film together after 2012′s exercise in wasted potential Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. It turns out the structure of Gori Tere Pyaar Mein! is slightly more complicated than the trailer would have us believe. It begins with Sriram (Imran Khan) the second son of a Tamilian family that lives in Bangalore. Frustrated by his irresponsibility his parents decide that the best cure is to get him married. They introduce him to Vasudha (Shraddha Kapoor – looking gorgeous). She confides in him that she is already in love with someone else and asks him to turn down the proposal. But unable to face their families’ disappointment and possible anger, Sriram agrees to the marriage. In the lead up to their wedding he tells her about meeting, falling in love with, and eventually losing Dia, a Punjabi social worker (Kareena Kapoor). Listening to his story Vasudha realizes that Dia is the only person Sriram has ever and will ever love and she eventually convinces him to go after her. However, when he goes to Dia’s parents in Delhi he learns that she has gone to live in a remote village in Gujarat. He follows her there and the rest of the movie concerns Sriram trying to win Dia over again by helping her get a bridge built that will connect the inaccessible village to its surrounding area.

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First let me say, I know that relations between North Indians and South Indians can be… fraught. And that South Indians often resent being caricatured and stereotyped in North Indian films. However, Sriram and his family aren’t the butt of any jokes in Gori Tere Pyaar Mein!. [Although there is a hilarious (if admittedly inappropriate) running joke in the first half about Sriram being more fair-complexioned than the rest of his family.] They are presented as being just like any other Indian family, only in a different setting and with different traditions than North Indian film-goers are perhaps used to seeing. In fact, the decision to make the character Tamilian must have been made just to show something different from what you usually see in a Dharma film because, despite what Sriram claims, he and Dia don’t fall out because he is Tamilian and she is Punjabi, but because they had different priorities.

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I’m an unapologetic Imran Khan fan. I’m so glad he realized, after the disasters that were Kidnap and Luck, that his strengths lie in comedy and romance (if only Abhishek Bachchan had been as self-aware). I should probably mention that Gori Tere Pyaar Mein! is directed by Punit Malhotra, who made excellent use of Imran’s comedic and romantic talents in 2010′s unfortunately titled I Hate Luv Storys. Anyway – the scene just before the Interval, which I won’t describe because I don’t want to spoil it, had me and Dolce Namak laughing so hard that we had to wipe away tears. I also found Imran genuinely touching in the emotional scenes and there were a couple of moments, especially in the second half, when he went from boyishly cute to whoa, actually quite handsome. My only complaint, and one I couldn’t resist tweeting about, is that he spends most of the movie with the top two buttons of his shirt undone and his chest hair on display. I don’t know why they did this – maybe to make him seem more manly? But it was totally at odds with both his character’s personality and his physicality. I mean, in the first song of the film Imran rocks a skinny white jean and loafers without socks. The chest hair was totally out of place.

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Kareena looks gorgeous and wears a succession of enviable Indian wear. The movie makes excellent use to her ability to give really good stink-eye. She and Imran don’t have sizzling chemistry, but they do share a nice rapport and I believed in their characters’ affection for each other. Vineet Kumar Singh, recently seen in Bombay Talkies, makes an appearance as one of the villagers. Anupam Kher hams it up a bit but still manages to be quite unpleasant as the village’s Collector. My only other complaint is about the way the bridge-building storyline was resolved. Since much was made about the fact that both Sriram’s grandfather and Anupam Kher’s father were Gandhians I thought it would turn out that they were connected and that’s how the conflict would be resolved. So the way it actually ended felt a little pat. However, this only gave me a minor twinge. The bottom line is that Gori Tere Pyaar Mein! is genuinely funny and sweet, and seems sadly overlooked. I hope that beyond the movie theatre, on television and on DVD, it will gain more of the admirers it deserves.

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