“What’s Your Raashee?”, A Romantic Comedy Based on Astrology
A new movie came out in India a few months ago called What’s Your Raashee?. ‘Raashee’ is the term used by Indian astrologers to refer to a sign of the zodiac, so the title of the movie is basically ‘What’s Your Sign?’.
The plot of the movie is basically that there is this guy who has to get married in 10 days, so he decides that he will meet with one girl from each of the 12 Sun-signs and hope that he falls in love with one of them in time to meet the deadline.
Each of the 12 girls is played by the same actress, who alters her character based on the nature of the zodiac sign that the character was born under.
That is pretty much the general premise of the film, or at least a very simplified version of the plot. I will give some more details below though.
Extended Plot Synopsis
The best synopsis of the premise of the movie that I’ve seen so far was in this rather unfavorable review. I’ll quote a snippet here just to give a more detailed plot synopsis. Its almost too detailed though, so if you don’t like quasi-spoilers then just skip this section:
Yogesh is a student at the University of Chicago. His brother back in Mumbai is involved in a financial scam and must pay restitution, and he also owes a large sum to the mob. His desperate parents consult an astrologer, who tells them Yogesh will get married in 10 days and acquire vast wealth on that day, thereby solving all their money problems. Yogesh’s grandfather—who knows nothing about the prediction—fulfills it by deciding to give his entire estate to Yogesh as a wedding gift. The family summons Yogesh home and tells him he’s got 10 days to find a bride. He doesn’t want to marry under these conditions, but agrees to do it for his brother’s sake. Yogesh is a simple man and he believes there are only 12 types of people in the world, according to the zodiac, so he decides to meet one woman from each sign and pick the one he likes best. He goes out with an unsophisticated Aries, a beautiful Aquarian, a bubbly Gemini, an intense Leo, a passionate Scorpio, a generous Virgo, a serious Libra, and so on.
A Romantic Comedy
Aside from the astrological motifs, the movie is sort of like a general romantic comedy, except with a Bollywood flair where the characters will transition into extended song and dance numbers frequently throughout the film. These musical sequences are actually pretty good, and some of the songs are left in your head even after the movie is over.
The vast majority of the dialogue in the film is in Hindi, with bits of English words and sentences sprinkled in at various points. The DVD comes with English subtitles though, and from what I can tell they are pretty good, or at least they are written in a way that isn’t clunky and seems to flow well, while conveying a lot of the subtlety and nuances in the dialogue.
What’s Your Raashee? Trailer
Here is one of the trailers for What’s Your Raashee?. Unfortunately there are no subtitles, but you can still get the gist of what’s going on, as well as the general flavor of the film.
General Review of the Film
The film was directed well, and they did some pretty nice CGI work and set design. The two main actors, Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra, did an great job with their characters, especially Chopra who had the most challenging role in finding ways to alter her acting subtly for each of the 12 characters that she played.
The movie is actually rather charming and funny at points, sometimes with a kind of subtle humor. For example, there is a running gag throughout the movie where the main character, who has been going to school in Chicago and has become kind of Americanized, will exclaim “Jesus!”, and then those around him will correct him and say “Krishna!”.
Apparently the film didn’t really do very well at the box office in India, and it was a commercial failure when it was released in theaters last September. Many of the critical reviews were pretty negative as well, with many reviewers agreeing that the 3 hour and 15 minute run time for the film was far too long, even for a Bollywood film where there are often a number of musical interludes that don’t necessarily contribute to the development of the storyline.
I do have to admit that there is a point sometime towards the end of the movie where it seems like it is dragging on a bit, although I still actually liked the movie overall, and I’m not entirely sure why it didn’t do very well in theaters.
The Characteristics of the Twelve Girls Based on the Signs of the Zodiac
So, the film is supposed to be based on the premise that the main character meets 12 girls who have 12 different personalities based on their Sun-signs. Here is one of the promotional posters that shows each of the 12 characters played by the same actress:
Sometimes this works out and the personality traits exhibited by the characters match the stereotypes associated with their signs, while other times it isn’t clear at all why the filmmakers associated certain characteristics with certain signs. Here is a rundown of all of the signs in the order that they appear in the film:
- The Aries girl was just kind of a dork. I’m not sure what they were going for there. As far as I can recall, Varahamhira doesn’t list ‘nerd’ as one of the core Aries traits.
- The Aquarian girl is a microbiologist. I’m guessing that they were going for Aquarius = scientist (?).
- The Gemini girl is flighty, talkative and generally animated. The Gemini girl argues with the protagonist a lot. Both of her parents are lawyers.
- The Cancer is shy and kind of emotional.
- Libra is a very formal, high powered business woman who treats the date like a business meeting and the marriage like a contract, much to the protagonist’s dismay. She’s strict and demanding. This is probably one of the weirdest ones as far as not really matching up with the general characteristics of Libra.
- The Pisces girl is shy, and her father is domineering. She is a painter. Eventually she asks him if he believes in reincarnation, and then tries to convince him that they were together in a past life. Basically she is kind of woo-woo. Pretty spot on for Pisces.
- Leo is an actress, or a dramatic dancer in a play of some sort. She says that she is married to dance. She considers herself an artist. She gets all haughty about something and rejects him.
- Scorpio is sexy. She’s passionate. She has a conservative public persona, and a sexy hidden persona that comes out later. She wants to be a model.
- Virgo is a doctor. She’s dedicated to her work, helping people, and she doesn’t want to leave India.
- Taurus is a bit spoiled due to the wealth of her family. She lives a life of luxury. She’s beautiful and playful. She acts immature and crazy in order to test the main character, making some hilarious facial expressions in the process.
- The Sagittarius girl turns out to be an astrologer herself. She wears glasses. She casts the main character’s birth chart and starts delineating it. They throw around a few astrological terms like the Moon and Saturn in the 1st house. She exclaims that his Venus is afflicted and he has dwibharya yoga, which means that he will have two wives because his first marriage will be broken. She says that she cannot marry him since his first marriage is “destined to fail”.
- The Capricorn girl is underage, and she cries because her family is trying to marry her off. There characteristics here only really come through in the song where there is some sort of theme of being deprived of her childhood, and carrying the burden of tradition.
Some of the characteristics are subtle and only brought up circumstantially, like Capricorn, but they are still there. Others are more straight forward, like Scorpio. Some of them just didn’t make a lot of sense though, like Aries and Libra. Wikipedia has a pretty good overview of the different characteristics exhibited by each of the girls as well. There may be subtle things that I overlooked, so I hope someone lets me know if they notice something.
Ordering the Movie on DVD
You can order a copy of the DVD through Amazon if you live in the US: What’s Your Raashee on Amazon.com
Amazon says that it will take a month or two to ship, although some the used sellers seem to have it on hand.
- The mob boss looks suspiciously like Michael Lutin. Observe.
- The opening title credits of the movie feature an awesome James Bond style musical/CGI interlude with all of the signs of the zodiac.
- The ending of the movie is kind of perplexing, with respect to the girl the main character ends up with.
- The character of the astrologer starts out ok in the beginning, but then they made him kind of sketchy in the rest of the movie, where he is employed by the father to spy on his brother since the astrologer’s “other job” is a detective. He actually turns into kind of a creep later on in the movie. Its almost like the film maker was subtly mocking the astrologer character, although I’m not sure. It is interesting that at the beginning of the movie they put the following ambiguous disclaimer:
This is a work of fiction created for entertainment and with respect to astrology.
The writers and makers of this film do not profess any belief in or knowledge of astrology.
The scenes depicted in this film may not be construed as a comment on astrology or a portrayal of astrology as being a solution for problems.
Got any comments about the movie? Let me know in the comments section below!