Directed by: Mandeep Kumar
I can usually tell within two minutes if I am going to like a film or not. With Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya I knew in about two seconds that I was going to enjoy my evening at the theatre. For a week I had agonized over seeing this film; not a fan of either Riteish or Genelia and extremely bored with seeing Om Puri play a booming-voiced thug—not to mention the absolute sham of a trailer I kept seeing—I was not expecting too much when I settled into my seat at the theatre.
TNLHG completely surprised me. The story isn’t new, its basic RomCom fodder to be sure, but it has enough endearing twists to keep audience spirits high with frequent smiles and laughter.
Viren (Riteish Deshmukh) is a big hearted rickshaw driver who plans on taking his savings and opening a big-time travel transportation company. When he discloses his plans to his boss, Bhatti, (Tinnu Anand) he soon finds himself destitute when Bhatti rips off his idea and steals his savings. Taking the ever popular Devdas route Viren gets rip-roaringly drunk and stumbles into the engagement ceremony of Bhatti’s daughter, Mini (Genelia D’Souza). Since she doesn’t want to get married Mini uses the opportunity of a disrupted ceremony to kidnap herself by cleverly framing Viren as her abductor. Mini instructs Viren to demand a million dollar ransom and once he has been paid she will give back his savings and take her share and run away to avoid marriage. Things get messier when the pair is kidnapped by the infamous Chowdhry (Om Puri) and held for a higher ransom. In the end everything works out of the best, and our couple gets to take their seven circles around the sacred fire. *
The comedy in this film is superb. The impeccable timing of all the actors paired with the wit just made the conversations in the film sparkle. I often lament that humor doesn’t translate well from Hindi to subtitles to gori audience member. Perhaps as my fluency in Hindi grows (thanks, Rosetta Stone!) I am “getting” more of the jokes but I am more prone to suggest that the comedy in this film is very self-deprecating, blunt, and ironic. Very much the style I find irresistible.
All the prior knowledge I had about Genelia D’Souza was limited to a skin-whitening commercial I saw on endless repeat while I was living in Bombay. She was prancing around in her skivvies with an overstuffed teddy bear and rubbing cream on her face. It’s sufficient to say that I doled out some harsh judgment. After seeing Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya I am giving her another chance. Aside from a few weird things in the beginning of the film (excessive and intended eye twitching, I guess it was a “wink”) I thought she really carried the film. She was breezy and effortless, playing the rambunctious and mischievous Mini without a fault and with a helping of self-abandonment that was charming. Mini is the kind of character you love to see Kareena Kapoor play, the pseudo-hyper girl who lights up an entire room the second she walks in the door. Genelia made Mini floppy and innocent where Kareena would have made her rigid and frosty. Either way Mini could have worked, regardless of adaptation, but having seen the original who wants to compare it to what it might have been? I’m not saying I’m a total Genelia fan but I am now more open to the idea of her. Maybe these types of characters are her niche… Granted, I would have to have more exposure to her to make that statement.
Riteish, like his wife, has never made much of a blip on my radar. I think I have only seen him in Housefull which for any actor is an unfair assessment of skill since Housefull blows. He does an earnest job as our Hero, full of sad eyes and windswept hair. And despite his well waxed chest** he pulled off his role with a great tongue-in-cheek aura. His outfits were a little too Salman Khan meets John Abraham at a gay bar and they played wardrobe switch circa 2008 but I am aware that really has nothing to do with his acting. Oh, but I might add that there needs to be more plaid kurtas. VERY Brooklyn Hipster meets Punjab. Very hot.
Don’t be terribly surprised that I don’t have much to say about poor Riteish, I’ve often called him and Genelia “The World’s Most Boring Couple” because… well… they are. And he’s just kind of a snooze, blah guy. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re great together and I am happy for them but there is nothing really exciting about them together or apart that makes me anxious for gossip on their daily lives.
Perhaps Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya works so well because the lead couple is a couple. It’s the same magic that makes watching a Neetu Singh and Rishi Kapoor movie so heart-meltingly adorable.
Where is my head? Comparing Neetu-Rishi to these guys?! I’ve gone mad.
I stand by my opinion! The chemistry between Riteish and Genelia is pure and heartwarming. Sure, they don’t smolder, but that isn’t the point, especially in a film like this which is more Com than Rom.
Om Puri plays a secretly soft-hearted villain in this film. That was alarmingly refreshing. It would have ruined it all if he had just been the hulking bully I typically see him personifying. While his character did have a penchant for preaching a little too much towards the end of the film his overall development was well rounded and solid. He had a great repartee with Genelia’s character and those moments were simply jewels.
The music for this film is great, it’s typical Bollywood film music, but that works for a film that borders on overt filminess line from time to time. The incorporation of the songs into the film was a throwback to just a few short years ago when full-out dance productions were the norm. I’m not saying that films are helped or hindered by dance numbers but sometimes it is comforting to see our lovers snuggling on a mountain top with dupattas flying on the wind. Also, we all agree that Veena Malik is totally hot, right? Good, I thought so.
The costumes in this film (Riteish’s aside re: what I have mentioned) are superb. I don’t know what dupatta-cum-vest Genelia was wearing at some point actually is but it has a racer back and gold sequins and I totally need one. The colors and the bling-bling were fantastic and I thought characters were dressed in a manner that was representative of how actual people dress in India… a stylistic marriage of traditional and Western aesthetics.
Overall, Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya was a film well worth seeing, as is any film that causes you to leave grinning.
*Don’t tell me that I just spoiled the film, it’s a RomCom. You knew there would be a happy ending. Plus, I’m keeping mum on the best twist of them all. **Men: please, please, stop waxing your chests.