Friday, February 25, 2011

Tanu Weds Manu: I want to wed this film!

I would rather see a standard story done well than an original but mediocre one.
Tanu Weds Manu is a standard love story - boy meets girl; boy falls for girl; girl eventually falls for boy. The fun doesn’t come from plot twists but from character moments. And believe me, there are a lot of wonderful character moments in a film packed with almost all my favorite character actors.

The main story goes like this: Manu (R. Madhavan) is a doctor in London. He comes home to India because his parents have been after him to get married and he’s tired of saying no. Tanu (Kangana) is a drama queen who will go out of her way to avoid doing what her parents want at all costs. Unfortunately for Manu, Tanu’s parents adore him. The action moves really quickly in the first half as events are set up but then things calm down post-interval until the very, very end when the film ends with a big blowout!

I hadn’t seen anything from director Aanand Rai before but I was suitably charmed. While the story itself moved rather slowly, there was always something to watch on the screen. Crowded shots of the weddings or hordes of family members would give way to richly textured urban landscape – never have I seen so much of a film take place on terraces. This is the kind of film that will really open up to a second viewing because I’m sure I only caught a small percentage of the background action. Things like my favorite little moment – a very tall security guard and a very short security guard talking to each other, carefully framed to the far right of the screen as Manu drives his jeep up to the house.

The music was well integrated into the story. There was only one dance – which is done (and done right!) to that old chestnut
Kajra Mohabbat Walla – and one lipsync song but for once I actually didn’t mind the montage songs. They flowed a lot more naturally than in other films… or maybe it’s just that Kangana and Madhavan know how to make soulful eyes look dynamic and interesting instead of vapidly staring at the camera.

Speaking of our heroine, Kangana Ranaut really shines as Tanu. She has the tough job of playing a free-spirited girl without making her a
Manic Pixie Dream Girl - the kind that only exists to teach the Hero a lesson about life. Kangana plays Tanu as free-spirited but with a bit of a dark edge to her. Tanu may have a big heart but she is also selfish and childish. A less talented actress would have descended into shrill caricature but Kangana makes Tanu a real person. When Kangana’s eyes flash with sadness or frustration, even if she is smiling, you feel so sorry for Tanu, trapped into the persona she has built for herself.

(And while Kangana may not like her image as a wild girl, I have to say that the biggest laugh from the audience during the whole film was when Manu is shown a picture of Tanu looking demure before he meets her.)

And Maddy… where would we be without R. Madhavan? The role of Manu isn’t a flashy one and Maddy ends up playing the straight man to the action happening around him but he does a great job. It’s all about the shy smiles and disappointed looks. You can tell that Manu is probably a pretty dull guy, which is why he is so charmed by Tanu, but he’s also forgiving and kind and dutiful.

The real scene stealer of the film was Deepak Dobriyal as Manu’s friend Pappi. He knocked every laugh line right out of the park with ease. Jimmy Shergill was surprisingly convincing as the swaggering Raja – who would have thought he could play vaguely menacing but there you have it. Swara Bhaskar is great as Tanu’s friend Payal. I love how she’ll put up with Tanu’s nonsense for a while but then will let her have it when she crosses the line.

For flashy originality head into the next theater over for
7 Khoon Maaf but if a warm and heartfelt love story is your desire, then I hope you book your tickets for Tanu Weds Manu.

1 comment:

Lime(tte) said...

Oh, how I love Madhavan... he's always so cute, even in Jhoota Hi Sahi he kind of was.

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