Friday, February 25, 2011

Tanu Weds Manu

Director: Anand Rai
Starring: R Madhavan, Kangna Ranaut, Deepak Dobriyal, among others
Stars: **1/2

Considering some of the edgier, more interesting themes have all come from smaller films in the last couple of years, much was expected from Tanu Weds Manu. Add to that, the promos have been extremely eye-catching. The film even begins on a promising note, and bristles with atmospheric, small-town charm.

The premise is again ripe with possibilities. It begins in very convincing fashion where an NRI groom, Manu (R Madhavan) is on a bride-hunting trip to India. He's shy and inhabited, with an affable, heart-melting smile. He's a far cry from the arrogant, accented English-speaking NRIs one normally gets to see in films. Manu as a doctor in London for ten years has mostly lived a boring life with little or no interaction with women. The bride-hunting is planned at break-neck speed by his mother (so as to accommodate as many girls as possible) and Manu - though surprised at such urgency- is too nice and affectionate to complain. Such an old-fashioned routine for marriage is not something he's terribly happy about, but he also realises he cannot put it on hold forever, and hence resigns to his parents' wishes. This entire portion has been shot with pitch perfect authenticity.

However, as it turns out, the girl he sees in Kanpur, Tanu (Kangna Ranaut) gets drunk to avoid him, and collapses on the bed where the couple is left in a room. Just a glance of her pretty face causes a great flutter in Manu's heart. Perhaps out of repression and a sudden release, or because Manu is genuinely attracted to Tanu, he's never able to get over her even when she declines to marry him. As it turns out, Tanu is a rebel without a cause, and smokes, drinks and abuses freely, and has a boyfriend whom she is set on marrying. Heartbroken, Manu returns back to Delhi. But the couple meet again, and Manu starts building his hopes.

What works for the film is R Madhavan - in an understated, yet very effective and credible character - who effortlessly slips into his role, and plays it with immense conviction. His performance has to be doubly lauded because Kangna is the weak link here, and it's left to this wonderful actor to hold their scenes together from slipping. Besides Madhavan's character - which is easily the highlight of the film - and Deepak Dobriyal's performance, as his friend, Pappi (fantastic!), Tanu And Manu is otherwise a regular rom com that takes a few false steps, especially in the second half. Only a very charming female lead could have made all the chaos believable. Sadly, Kangna is not upto the task. Her appearance and attitude don't go with the tone of the film at all, and her dialogue delivery is painfully bad and often incoherent. The actress perhaps thought this would be a Jab We Met moment for her, but Kangna plays the character as a weird, confused and crude female without any redeeming features. She walks around like a zombie, and Indian clothes look doesn't suit her Medusa- hair at all. Also Kangna's lip job has gone drastically wrong, and with her three inch pout, Donald Duck could be feeling a bit threatened. Kangna's look and performance - both let down a well-made film that deserved a more appealing actress. Of course some of the blame should rest on the writers and director, who perhaps could have justified Manu's intense liking for the girl better. On a script level, the situation is perfectly plausible of opposites attracting. Manu -being the timid, restrained and obliging guy that he is - gets drawn to the impudent and loud Tanu. But Kangna's character, and her relationship with her boyfriend are not satisfactorily explored at all.

The dialogues are crackling and all the character actors have done a sterling job. The music and background score is addictive. The film is of course enjoyable in parts, but one does get a bit tired by the end of it all, which suggests it's not such a joy ride after all.