Teenmaar is a scene-to-scene replica of Love Aajkal (okay, maybe not scene-to-scene; Teenmaar has what we need for that celluloid adrenaline we're addicted to: 3 fights for the hero). It's a good thing, in many ways, to faithfully imitate a Bollywood hit - at the very least, you have a product that looks
And it helps if there's a soul. Preferably, one shaped by its star.
Love Aajkal is a tricky film to repackage and sell to a Telugu audience (it had a mixed reception in Hindi, in the first place), thanks to the fact that the new-age romance curve it deals with is something that not all are likely to be comfortable with. The good news is that Teenmaar, ill-suited name and all, works.
The better news is that the solid "romantic hero" - the one that men want to be, and that women want - is back.
Teenmaar's plot weaves together 2 love stories: one belonging to the times of yore, where love was slow, sure and tender; and one from generation Y, replete with haste, indecisiveness, and much heart-break. Pawan Kalyan stars as the protagonists of both stories, Arjun Palwai in the first, and Michael Velayudam in the second.
Michael is this incorrigible flirt who changes girlfriends more frequently than he changes his innerwear, and when he meets Meera (Trisha), there is instant chemistry (basically, the touchy-feely kinds). When Meera announces that she's moving to India, they break up, thanks to the commitment-phobic Michael who doesn't want the hassles of a long-distance relationship.
Running parallelly is a flashback narrated by Senapathy (Paresh Rawal), who tells the story of the feisty Arjun Palwai, a strong-willed man who went to great lengths to woo the woman he loved.
Happy endings are in store, but not before Michael goes through the complete "love graph" that one is supposed to when one finds "that one person" and "doesn't realize it".
That Pawan Kalyan - the star and the actor - is a smashing knockout is no exaggeration. He's impeccable as the virtuous and passionate Arjun Palwai, and as the boyish and reckless Michael as well. He's come a long way from his Khushi
days, which, incidentally, are the days that his performance in Teenmaar reminds you a lot of.
Jayant Paranji has been quite scrupulous in retaining the original's approach to the story. This is largely a slice-of-life film driven more by its overtones of love and romance, and by its characters, rather than by dialogues or individual scenes. The prevailing mood, obviously, is that of warm, gentle, cockle-warming love.
The possible downside to this movie is that the hard-core urban-ness (the locales are mostly abroad) to its tone and characterization might not go down well with audiences who don't care. Also, a comedy track might have helped - instead, we have Ali in a miniscule role.
Meanwhile, while it's easy to know which story audiences will root for between the two (Arjun Palwai, who, every time he appears on screen, prompts admiration welling up inside of you), it's also scary to know that Arjun is not the character who is easier for fans to emulate. Indeed, the plot's one flaw is the unpardonable amount of time Michael takes to realize things - an amount of time that is not
okay in reality - and there's a danger that people will want to be Michael more than Arjun.
Given that Imtiaz Ali's been credited with the story, and also given that there are fewer dialogues in the film than we're used to, Trivikram is not as big a part of Teenmaar as we'd expect. His work is visible though, and coupled with Pawan Kalyan's energy and personal style, the movie has several humorous sequences (not to forget the unmissable rousing speeches about love).
Chemistry matters immensely in a film like this, and Pawan Kalyan and Trisha share a lot of it. Trisha, of course, is brilliant, and lends the role the kind of grace that few actresses can. Kriti Kharbanda is well-cast as the demure Vasumathy of old times. However, Paresh Rawal could have had a bigger presence.
Manisarma's music (despite a couple of "inspired" pieces) is set to linger on, on charts and in your mind. Also, the look and feel of the movie is slick, and the entire cast has been done up stylishly.
Really, as a fan in the seat behind us wondered loudly and fervently, where the hell was Pawan Kalyan all these days?