Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho review: This 'comedy' is boring and drags on endlessly
There’s so much that doesn’t make sense in Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho
By Tanul Thakur
Don’t discount the importance of good beginnings. The first 20 minutes of Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho is anything but a model of clarity.
The following happens in that period: Pradhan (Annu Kapoor), an influential Khap Panchayat member, searches for his missing wife, in a village fair, who’s secretly gone to meet her lover, Arjun (Rahul Bagga); the same fair’s also hosting a beauty pageant for, erm, buffaloes; Arjun and his friends bump into Pandit Ravi Kishanas Bheema (Sanjay Mishra), a cross between a priest and a quack, who is trying to convince the onlookers that the teenage girl sitting decked up on stage is an avatar of almighty. Pradhan then goes to the same charlatan later in the night to find a cure for his impotency; in between, there’s also a scene featuring a shopkeeper selling bras to women, who don’t know their bra size, by hesitantly looking at their breasts.
These disconnected scenes share one common characteristic, though: they try hard to be funny. And this is a common refrain of the film, too; its attempts at being a comedy are strained, because that end is often reached by compromising common sense, a logical story and convincing characters.
So early in the film, we know that Arjun is having an affair with Pradhan’s wife, Maya (Hrishita Bhatt), but instead of meeting secretly to avoid her husband’s wrath, they roam freely together, quite literally, in broad daylight, like two teenagers recently hit by puberty. The two of them are caught, and an extended sequence is forced out of this plot point.
Now since this film is supposed to be a “comedy”, we have a scene where Pandit, whispering into a skull and invoking a malevolent spirit, advises Pradhan to procure dirt from Arjun’s feet and his stool sample.
You wonder why Pradhan, who appears resourceful enough to come up with a devious plan of his own, would fall for such a stupid trick. You wonder why Arjun, who dotes on his younger sister, should leave her wedding to meet Maya—an encounter that’s both risky and less important than his sister’s marriage.
Film characters can, of course, be stupid and not make sense; however, in Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho, their stupidity is not a function of who they are but an attempt to appear needlessly funny.
There’s so much that doesn’t make sense in Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho. For the good first hour, you have absolutely no clue where its story is headed. How many times will we watch a film revolving around an old and affluent husband, his considerably young and disinterested wife and her scared love interest?
It’s only around the film’s halfway mark that its story changes track and tells us what it’s really about. When Pradhan fails to harm Arjun, he implicates him in a false case: the latter’s accused of raping a buffalo. This bizarre plot turn comes across as pleasant surprise, because it’s ripe material for satire, which this film really wants to be, but you wonder what took so long for director Vinod Kapri to come to this point.
It is famously said that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order, and this quote is true for this film as well. Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho is centered on a plot that’s essentially a distilled version of “facts are stranger than fiction”.
It needed a better-structured screenplay: one that juggled mirth and gloom to paint a riveting picture of our hinterland’s depravity and eccentricity. This way it could comment on the darkly comical absurdity of Indian life. But Kapri sees his film as a series of overlong gags, and it’s no wonder that they frequently come in the way of a compelling story.
Even after Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho’s main plot point is introduced, there’s barely any perceptible change in the film. It continues to drag unnecessarily without any bite and humour. All the glaring flaws of the first half—unnecessarily long and comprehensively illogical scenes that are desperately trying to be funny—are present in the second half as well.
The dialogues’ are clunky, the plot points are convenient and characters’ motivations, well, who are we kidding? The biggest disappointment in Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho is that unlike other mediocre Bollywood films, it held a lot of promise; it could have said so much and so easily about the kind of people we are slowly becoming, about us being buffoons living gratuitously serious lives. But then Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho is not the first film to have got lost in the haze between intent and execution.
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