Look at what Jab We Met started and Band Baaja Baaraat precipitated! It’s a virtual melee of weddings out there! The season of filmed-and filmy – shaadis replete with Punjabi songs, swirling ghagras and fragrant mogras, jostling mandaps and hectic rituals…Gee, Gurinder Chadha’s Bride & Prejudice never seemed less prejudiced. And who wants to wait for monsoon to enjoy Mira Nair’s wedding flick?
Not that Tanu’s gath-bandhan with Manu is a festive joy for all seasons. Sometimes director Aanand Rai tries too hard to let the audience enter the portals of the festivity. Sometimes you just wish the narrative wouldn’t try so hard to whip up a celebration. You tend to get stifled by the bickerings and the bacchanalia. The constant flow of parties and repartees could have done with a more restrained script doctor.
But somewhere down the line you do begin to care for this seemingly mismatched pair…He bespectacled, sober, repressed and Indian…She is aggressive, foul-mouthed loud and unpardonable….they are bound to clash and come together. The inevitable culminating clinch is not really something we hold our breath for. But yes Tanu and Manu’s banter is fun while it lasts.
The camera (Chirantan Das) captures the excitement with a fair amount of gusto. The verbal exchanges could have been less wedded to pedestrianism. But then, we can’t really expect a wedding venue to have wisdom on its menu. The core couple remains blissfully besotted by one another’s conduct. We are not quite taken up by their courtship. And we can’t help wondering what the marriage of these two unlikely people would be like. Stormy, yes?
The turbulence is all skin-deep. The dark undertones, the agony of so many wedding invitees and their quirks being sardined into one cohesive can-do-no-wrong, never comes through. What shines through is the songs dances and gaiety.
Tanu Weds Manu captures the ebullience of a shaadi with reasonable earnestness and warmth. Much of these qualities flow from Madhavan’s performance. It oozes empathy. Having played far more in-your-face characters Madhavan blends into the spirit of bak-bak with the pleasure of an actor who just wants to stop giving showy performances. Kangna Ranaut is all over the place with her seemingly improvised moves. She is a very distant (but far louder) echo of Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met. Deepak Dobriyal saddled with the job of making the friend’s part engaging reminds us again of what a wonderful actor he is. Too bad he is not considered hero material, although after watching Ranveer Singh you wonder what defines screen heroism.
Finally we are looking at a film that seems way too taken up with the rituals to wonder why an arranged marriage is becoming an anachronism in today’s day and age. Tanu Weds Manu gets right the small-town excitement during the time of a marriage.
The rest is all a blur of hyper-activity. Mandap mayhem has never seemed feistier.