Apart from my usual language disclaimer, may I add a second note here, that I have as much as possible refrained from comparing TeenMaar to its original Love Aaj Kal. However is some references are delved upon, request the reader to accept it without being judgmental.
When I first heard about ‘Love Aaj Kal’ remake in Telugu, I was clearly intrigued. Though the original was a box-office hit, it received some flak because not many people warmed up to the concept of ‘practical romance’ wherein breaking up, patching, moving on etc was as casual as any other hobby. Also with 2 narratives of different timelines running parallel, intertwined with each other, was a tough job to keep the viewer constantly attentive and engaged. So my first thought was - is the comparatively reserved South-Indian audience ready for this kind of cinema. Will Director Jayanth and Trivikram be able to do a satisfactory job at getting the local audience to accept this modern day ‘practical’ love-story? I think they do. And they do a good job at it.
Story: Cape-Town based Micheal Velayudham (Pawan Kalyan) & Meera Shastri (Trisha) meet at a pub, hit it off well and fall for each other. Micheal aspires to be a top Wall Street banker, while Meera’s passion lies back to a career in India. One year later, acknowledging that long-distance relationship doesn’t work, they settle for an amicable separation and part ways. Upon Meera’s departure to India, Micheal runs into Senapati (Paresh Rawal). Surprised by the ‘convenient’ relationship shared by Micheal-Meera, Senapati narrates a 3-decade old Varanasi-based story of Arjun Palvai (Pawan Kalyan again), who fell in love with Vasumathi (Kriti Kharbanda) and fought all odds to marry her. Even though Micheal’s perception of ‘easy-going’ love is completely opposite to Arjun’s ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ philosophy, Micheal finds himself curious albeit amused about Arjun’s actions and committed approach toward love. Continuing to be friends, Micheal and Meera’s lives interject at regular junctures, but come to a question mark when Meera is proposed marriage by Sudheer (Sonu Sood). The rest of the movie is about Micheal’s, Meera’s approaches to the decisions they take and the effect of Arjun Palvai’s story on the present day love story.
Cast: When I first saw the promos with Pawan uttering the ‘laila-majnu’ dialogue, I wasn’t very sure if he could pull of the character well. I wondered if the makers should have casted a younger actor as Allu Arjun or Siddharth who could better essay the playfulness of Micheal’s role. However *thankfully* Pawan proved me completely wrong. I haven’t seen about 50% of Pawan Kalyan’s movies, but if I had to judge him solely for this film with no prior references, he simply excels in every scene. Playing the frivolous Micheal on one hand, the more reticent Arjun on the other takes a lot of effort, but Pawan does a smooth job. Be it in terms of dialogue delivery which required two extreme voice modulations or in terms of body language, Pawan was marvelous at maintaining the contrasts of both characters. Trisha is gorgeous, likeable, easy on the eyes, I’ve definitely seen her don roles of more intensity, but she manages to convince as the level-headed Meera. The surprise package for me (just like LAK) is Kriti, who having to play the coy vasumati, has most scenes that require to be emoted without saying much. She ihas captivating screen presence, is refreshing, subtle, and a delight to watch. Paresh Rawal, Sonu Sood fill in perfectly for their respective roles (though I’m really curious about the dubbing of these two).
Crew: Having an entire story focus on two central characters can be tricky. Plus when it comes to remakes, there are always reservations and requirements to alter the story to suit local sensibilities, but Director Jayanth’s direction manages to hold steady the momentum of the film, while Trivikram Srinivas writing and adaption of the original ensures TeenMaar scores pretty high on this factor. Seeing the movie without subtitles, I couldn’t understand the dialogues completely. But still there is a strong resonance in the way words blend with the mood of the scene, which conveys a positive vibe throughout the film. The music was fine, I could have done without it as well since I’m not the biggest fan of the album, but Jayanan Vincent’s camera play made it manageable.
Just like Ram Charan-Genelia’s ‘Orange’, I'm tremendously in respect of the writing in this one. While Orange’s Ram was tilting more to being commitment-phobic, TeenMaar’s Micheal is plain realistic and has his priorities in place like most youngsters today. Fast moving lives, changing times, fashion, technology, styles, tastes, generation today holds a very short attention span. ‘It’s complicated’ is not a mere relationship status on networking sites but rather reflects the emotional state of most youngsters ping-ponging between life, career, domestic, social responsibilities, pressures, competition etc. What Teenmaar tries to convey is that although there might be a generation gap and people today don’t grieve much over changes or constantly moving on, the philosophies of love hardly change. The approach might be different between today and two decades back, but the sensibilities that go with the emotions of the heart are hardly bound to change. The belief that ‘the value of someone is truly known when they go away’ is as true today as it was decades ago. We might have modernized in our lifestyles, approach to work or life in general, but are quite old-fashioned when it comes to the matters of the heart.
All in all, TeenMaar is one of those remakes that’s completely faithful and at par with its original. The revisions in the script are realistic, appealing; the smart balance in the writing between emotions and light-heartedness makes this a fine romantic entertainer in recent times. Recommended.