Theenmaar is a fairly faithful remake of the Hindi film Love Aaj Kal, with a few minor changes and thankfully a lot more Southern style action and drama.
We do think that Pawan Kalyan has the most enthusiastic fans we have ever encountered. There was a good turnout at India Talkies, especially considering this was the second night showing, and more ladies and families than we usually see. In many of the Cape Town location scenes, bikini clad extras strutted around to no audience reaction at all. But let PK appear in shot and the roof almost came off! And we must add – it was the guys making the most noise!
Pawan Kalyan is Michael, a chef working in Cape Town while he waits for an opportunity to be a stockbroker in New York. Trisha is Meera, a fine arts graduate who specialises in restoration work (or something). Michael is selfish, impulsive, charming but ultimately high on talk and low on commitment. His dialogues are hilarious and he actually used the vintage line ‘Coffee, tea …or me?’ which had us in fits of laughter. It was followed up by a kiss so clearly the old material hasn’t lost any of its magic…or maybe it’s all in the delivery? And he does speak Italian (not so well, but it was actual dialogue in actual Italian delivered with great gusto).
Trisha plays Meera as vain and princessy, accepting compliments on her beauty with a smile and an ‘I know!’ Their relationship is shown in a series of montages deteriorating from the happy honeymoon phase to him being bored and her being restless and the performances develop more subtlety as the characters situations change. Meera loves Michael but goes back to India to pursue her career dreams. They both try to move on from this relationship, but really don’t, and the question of will they or won’t they get back together is the story.
Paresh Rawal introduces the flashback story of his friend Arjun (Pawan Kalyan) and his love, played by Kriti Karbandha. The Varanasi locations and slightly faded colour palette are simply stunning. Arjun is a student activist, albeit one who never seems to do any study, a man of few words and deep feelings. Arjun and his nerdy mates follow Kriti around Varanasi and these are some of the funniest scenes.
Pawan Kalyan’s expressions flicker from nervous to smouldering to determined and back again as he wordlessly conveys his feelings and confusion. There is a fabulous vintage style song with Arjun and his mates skipping around and dancing like madmen and it is just brilliantly done. Kriti didn’t have a lot to do except stand around and stare at Arjun and is a bit low energy in many of her scenes. She does come to life in her dances and those scenes are where she looks her most appealing. Her family don’t approve of Arjun and his determination and resilience are a total contrast to Michael’s floundering and apathy. His body language is completely different to Michael – Arjun stands up straight, shoulders back, head up and looks people in the eye where Michael’s gaze is always shifting or angled and he rarely stands still or takes a stand.
One of the side effects of Filmi True Love is that all other partners end up as Romance Roadkill. Australian Misha or maybe Michelle (played by someone maybe called Jahna) and Sonu Sood as Meera’s new man are adequate in their roles, but they aren’t given a lot to do. Sonu makes more of an impression, mostly because he gets more dialogue and also has a confronting scene with Trisha. We did find it interesting that although the relationship between Meera and Michael was clearly physical, it was only the white girlfriend who was overtly shown as having a sexual relationship. It is obvious she is a pale (pun intended) substitute for Meera, although she did spark a truly funny Dirty Harry impression by Michael.
The remaining support cast were their usual selves. Tanikella Bharani was Michael’s Skype savvy dad, Paresh Rawal was avuncular and natty in golf knits, Mukesh Rishi was imposing and mean as the olden days father. The actors who play Arjun’s friends are really expressive and fun, and have a fab collection of Seventies polyester body shirts and flares. The male backing dancers were great and looked the part – if they were random street dancing IT guys, they looked like IT guys. There were too many skinny white girls in the club dances. Considering we were supposed to be in Cape Town, there was little diversity in the ethnic makeup of the extras so it was a bit odd. Another very strange thing – no Brahmi. We really can’t recall the last Brahmi-less film we have seen. Ali however did turn up in a fairly restrained (for him anyway) cameo.
Mani Sharma’s music is well matched to its place in the story. We particularly liked a gorgeous temple song dedicated to Shiva that used perfect retro Bollywood choreography. The club numbers were fun, and Pawan Kalyan went all out to entertain. The costumes were occasionally puzzling – we have no idea who was styling Meera’s return to India wardrobe but apparently going home means wearing lots of patchwork and garish harem pants. A big hurrah for whoever designed Arjun’s look. We loved Pawan Kalyan in the simple kurta and jeans.
Imtiaz Ali’s story is a great basis, and Trivikram did really well in translating it into the Southern film style. We missed a lot of the dialogue based jokes, but judging by the audience reaction, they were very funny indeed. The action scenes are way more energetic than in the Hindi original. We aren’t sure about the climax fight that seemed to have been designed solely to allow a motorbike blow up but heroes must be heroes. Jayant Paranji kept the story ticking along for the most. There is a draggy section towards the end, but as usual the final scenes seem to happen at breakneck speed.
Theenmaar is a really entertaining film that has something to say but doesn’t beat you over the head with a message. We can’t wait for the DVD!