A few weeks back came 'Yeh Saali Zindagi' which had it's lead protagonist Irrfan Khan valiantly in love with Chitrangda Singh who instead loved someone else. Now comes 'Tanu Weds Manu' with the difference being that while 'Yeh Saali Zindagi' had violence and black humour at the core of it, this Madhavan-Kangna starrer doesn't even feature a slap in it. Also, it is the two hours that lead to the culmination of this plot that make them stand out as distinct affairs. And for that, one must hand it over to director Aanand L Rai for making it possible and keeping the narrative engaging for most part of it.
For Madhavan life is quite simple. Someone who is an introvert, isn't quite assertive when it comes to his own marriage, falls in love with the first girl whom he meets and isn't left with much choice but to give in to the need of the situation as it arises, he is someone who can be easily lost in the crowd.
On the other hand Kangna's character is that of a crowd puller. A girl who can't celebrate without a couple of pegs down, needs an occasion to make her presence felt and is a rebel just because she wants to break the shackles of small town mentality, she even goes on to break the heart of the only guy who actually loved her for what she was rather than 'customising her' (as beautifully put by her at one point in the film).
Around such distinct protagonists, Aanand Rai spins a tale which not just takes a rollicking start but maintains a momentum right through the first half of the film. First ever meeting of Madhavan and Kangna, their conversation a day later in the train, the twist that happens too early in the tale - all of it brings audience to a point where you want to know the journey that these characters will take. Of course the best is reserved for the point in the film when all characters assemble in Punjab.
Really, one doesn't have any complaints whatsoever by this time as you are totally immersed in the proceedings. For that, credit must also go to supporting actors like Deepak Dobriyal, Eijaz Khan and Swara Bhaskar who are actually pretty integral to the film's movement instead of being just some mandatory add-ons.
With the twist in the tale at the interval point making you all excited about what's going to unfold next, the story surprisingly starts stagnating a little. The scenes do not turn out to be as impacting as one would have expected with the narrative becoming slow. This is also due to the fact that while the first half was totally breezy, the second half becomes a core love story with not much element of humour.
Not that the going-ons become totally boring around this time. The scene at the court, Kangna's predicament that follows, Jimmy's short but powerful outburst - all of this does keep the audience's interest in the film. And of course the climax is the highpoint again with Madhavan-Jimmy confrontation refusing to get totally filmy (though finding itself in the same zone).
Madhavan, who has always delivered goods whenever given a meaty role to enact, walks a thin rope and comes up trumps. He had to strike a balance between being quiet while refraining from being meek and he succeeds in getting that persona right. Kangna is quite good in the first half as a rebel and audience does get to see some fresh expressions from her. However (and surprisingly) she is just decent in the second half when emotions take over.
Jimmy gives a good account for himself yet again and is in a role which is much more than just a special appearance or a cameo. He is terrific in his confrontation scene with Kangna and then dominates the film's climax. Swara Bhaskar, who was quite good earlier as well in a lesser known film called 'Madholal Keep Walking' (2010) is very confident and has a similar persona as that of Shahana Goswami. Eijaz Khan brings life in the proceedings while Deepak Dobriyal shines in each and every scene that he gets. Krsna's music has a soul and that is reflective in the way (most of) it is smartly integrated in the background score.
Where Aanand scores is getting the small town setting as well as 'desi' characterisation right which is the biggest win of 'Tanu Weds Manu'. He may have consciously chosen the path of balancing fun and dramatic quotient (though one would have preferred more of the former) and he succeeds to a good extent as well. 'Tanu Weds Manu' may not lead the pack of being one of the best romcoms in the contemporary times but it has a definite sense and sensibility to it.