By Nisha Susan
+10 TO THE MOVIE for refracting Kangana’s annoying acting into the consistent portrait of a genuine wild child. Tanu is capable of saying sadly, “Raja tum or is bandar mein bahut pharak hai” as she leaves her lover. Tanu is never cutely garullous a la Jab We Met’s Geet. She is Bollywood hero style nuts with a hefty dose of 50s American housewife — fearless and bright but drowning her unhappy restlessness in tranqs, alcohol and ill-conceived affairs. She doesn’t mind any boy (she tells Manu) or girl her parents will disapprove of her shacking up with. Why won’t these damned girls get a job?
+10 FOR STEADFASTLY MAINTAINING MANU’S pacific nature right up to the end when there is the heavy duty ‘baraat down’. No heroics, no dancing, no singing. You go, maama.
-8 FOR NEVER TELLING US HOW TANU got this way — apart from Delhi University malevolent aura which made her a half-assed rebel. You know how higher education ruins girls. Everyone else — Raja was born in the curfew, Manu’s dad has wished he had a chance for heroism, Manu himself is the passive, sad lonely immigrant who would fall in love with anything — has a bit of a back story.
+5 FOR NOT MILKING the small-town, middle class India angle with soppy dialogue.
+10 FOR MAKING small-town middle class India visually not that glamorous. The river bathing scene is authentically gross.
+5 FOR THE NAKED TODDLER who runs out to greet the ladkewale.
-5 FOR THE LADKEWALE being taken home in cycle rickshaws. Boss. Come on. This is Kanpur not Outer Mongolia!
+8 TO DEEPAK DOBRIYAL who has that sly little face, sly little moves and the best one-liners in the film. Except for that disorienting moment when Manu tells Tanu “only you understand me” with so much irony that you know it’s an irritated Madhavan stepping out of character. Tanu looks as incapable of understanding Manu as Lydia Bennett.
+6 FOR REVIVING JIMMY SHERGILL and giving him the pale, glowering menace of Nosferatu. He even makes his entry with blood on his lips. He has some excellent lines in the baraat-off.
-5 FOR DOING NOTHING WITH RAVI KISSEN other than raising our hopes.
-5 FOR MAKING US WONDER whether the parents would really have let Tanu go wedding lehenga shopping alone with a man, a man even as meek as Manu. Where is her best friend now?
+3 FOR REMINDING US how the strangest people are best friends. Eijaz, Pappy and Manu brilliantly have nothing in common. Beautiful Payal (Swara Bhaskar) is excellent as Manu’s pragmatic but frequently enraged best friend. Nothing giggly or sakhi about her.
+10 FOR REMINDING US of the dim, astonishing reasons why people fall in love. By the end of the movie, you can imagine the marriage Tanu and Raja would have had. And you can imagine the marriage Tanu and Manu are to have.
+5 TO MADHAVAN for saying, “Mika? Yeah. Whatever. I’m not dancing in any bhangra number”
+5 TO THE REST OF THE CAST for saying “The one decent song is in the end credits and the hero won’t dance. But we will!”
+10 FOR THE SOMETHING ABOUT THIS MOVIE which makes us long to watch the truly heartwarming sequel that will tell us so much about small-town Indian reality — Tanu Divorces Manu