Unpredictability is usually a good thing when it comes to movies, but Tanu Weds Manu is unpredictable to the point of being bizarre.
R Madhavan plays London-settled Dilliwala Manu Sharma who falls hopelessly in love with the girl his parents have selected for him, the moment he first sees her. No problem there, except that the girl Tanu Tripathi, played by Kangana Ranaut, happens to be unconscious during their first meeting. Creepy, some would say.
In tracking the haphazard romance between Tanu and Manu, this film travels like a video diary through North India: from Kanpur to Lucknow to Meerut to New Delhi to Punjab. This gives the narrative a charming touch, but that thrill fades quickly. And you notice the hitch almost immediately – Tanu Weds Manu suffers from a painful Jab We Met hangover.
Chattering nineteen to the dozen and wholly spontaneous, Tanu could be a distant cousin of Kareena Kapoor’s Geet. Yet where Geet was endearingly goofy, Tanu comes across as plain selfish. One minute she’s ordering Manu to call off their engagement so she can run off with her boyfriend, the next, she’s leading him on shamelessly when she runs into him at a friend’s wedding. And yet, just why she’s so rebellious remains a mystery to you.
Don’t spare any sympathy for Manu. He’s stuck in the ‘silently suffering romantic-hero’ stereotype. In short, he’s a big bore. He continues to pine for Tanu knowing full well she’s already committed, he convinces her parents to approve of the man she wants to marry, he even accompanies her to buy a wedding dress. Sure his puppy-dog devotion yields results. But not before the script takes so many harebrained twists and turns that nothing can surprise you anymore.
On the upside, Kangana Ranaut is a pleasant surprise in a cheery, upbeat part that we haven’t seen her take on before. She rises to the challenge, only hampered occasionally by her mangled dialogue delivery. R Madhavan, meanwhile, stuck in a thankless role is endearing at first, but is reduced to a doormat by the end of the film. And it’s hard to root for a pushover. But the winning performance in this film comes from Deepak Dobriyal (of Omkara) who offers a hilarious, uninhibited turn as Manu’s best friend and confidant, and just watching him react to Manu’s obsession with Tanu are some of the film’s best moments. In contrast Jimmy Shergill, as a friend Manu makes along the way, turns scowling into a fashion statement, over-reacting all the way.
Tanu Weds Manu isn’t all bad. There are portions in the first half that enjoyable. But held together by a fractured script, they fail to take good shape.
I’m going with two out of five for director Anand Rai’s Tanu Weds Manu. It’s got some fine moments. Unfortunately they’re few and far between.