2 Stars (out of 4)
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I don’t buy the premise that all married couples must fight. And when they do, I assume it’s usually over important stuff like money or child-rearing. Tere Mere Phere assumes that, not only do all married couples fight, but that even the pettiest of arguments can bring a couple to the brink of divorce. So much for the power of love.
Tere Mere Phere (“Our Wedding Vows”) begins several days into the unhappy honeymoon of Rahul (Jagrat Desai) and Pooja (Sasha Goradia). Flying home from their prematurely aborted road trip, they cause such a ruckus that their flight is forced to return to its departure airport.
Seeing Rahul and Pooja climbing in to their honeymoon camper van, fellow passenger Jai (Vinay Pathak) pulls a gun on them, demanding to be driven to the plane’s original destination. He has to make it to Shimla before his fiancée’s disapproving family can marry her to someone else. A few hours with incessantly bickering Rahul and Pooja convince Jai that marriage might not be worth it after all.
By introducing Rahul and Pooja at their most annoying, writer-director Deepa Sahi denies the audience the opportunity to relate to the couple. Rather than listening to them argue and thinking, “I’ve been there,” one looks at them and thinks, “Good grief, I’ve never been that obnoxious.”
There’s also something off about Sahi’s sense of what is funny. Not only are Rahul and Pooja unbearably irritating, but they don’t react appropriately to perceived slights. They blow up at each other over sitcom gender-role clichés — he’s messy; she’s too strict — but it’s played to comic effect when Rahul flirts with another woman to deliberately anger and humiliate Pooja.
It would be one thing if the bickering over inconsequential things were symptomatic of deeper problems, but flashbacks show the couple’s relatively smooth courtship. They’re actually cute as they joyously celebrate their perfect score on a magazine compatibility test. Sahi needed to show a lot more sweetness and a lot less combativeness between Rahul and Pooja to make them into a couple who deserve a happy ending.
Debutants Desai and Goradia don’t do their awkwardly-written characters any favors. Both actors seem to have studied at the School of Inappropriate Facial Expressions. When Rahul’s face is shown in a close-up, supposedly staring lovingly at Pooja, Desai’s intense grimace makes him look more like he’s planning to kill her.
Tere Mere Phere gets better performances from its more experienced actors. Vinay Pathak’s calm presence as Jai offsets Rahul & Pooja’s shrieking hysteria. Sushmita Mukeherjee is funny as Rahul’s overbearing mother, Seema.
But the real star of the film is the scenery. Shot in Himachal, Sahi wisely includes lots of shots of the region’s gorgeous mountains and rivers. For all their faults, at least Rahul and Pooja picked a nice place to honeymoon.