When Harry Tries to Marry

| October 18, 2011

Arranged marriage or marrying for love? That seems to be the question. Valid cases can be made for both and the debate can set the foundation for a promising, thoughtful and witty romantic comedy. It really is too bad that When Harry Tries to Marry is none of those things. Culture clashes and identity struggles are issues that several people can relate to, and although these themes can definitely be executed in comedic ways, this film never moves past formulaic, trite and contrived.
Harry (Harish; played by Rahul Rai) is a matchmakers dream– smart, polite, pragmatic. He’s the kind of guy that boasts his initials on the front pocket of his stylish pajamas. At twenty-two years of age the vibrant Indian-American bachelor is already looking forward to getting married, something he will approach with the same analytical sensibility that he puts into his homework and choice of pajama. An arranged marriage is exactly what he wants, hoping to avoid the hurt and mess that came with the divorce of his parents, who married out of love.
He is matched with Nita (Freishia Bomanbehram) , a lovely young woman from India, who is a perfect partner for him on paper. Despite feeling confident and enthusiastic about his future wife, he starts to spend a lot of time with his classmate Theresa (Stefanie Estes), with whom he grows a very close, somewhat intimate relationship. Externally Harry remains relatively steadfast, but inside he is torn and afflicted with several voices of opposing forces.
When Harry Tries to Marry, directed and co-written by Nayan Padrai, is supposed to be a “colorful journey of self-discovery,” according to Padrai. While the film is visually colorful, the characters and dialogue lack color and are actually very flat. The characters are two-dimensional and never feel real, even with all the dreams and anecdotes that are supposed to make us feel connected to them. Yes, the acting pretty much fails, but the script fails entirely.
The moments that are supposed to be tender and sweet are entirely hollow and dry, partly because none of the characters have any chemistry with each other and partly because the dialogue is stale. But, they are better than any attempts at comedy. You’ll be hard-pressed to remember a single line, unless its a really bad one that made you laugh even if it wasn’t supposed to.
Character and relationship development is dormant and that applies to the plot as well. The progression is often forced and sometimes random. Maybe it is too colorful, maybe it is too much of a journey, but more like how a paintball fight would be a colorful journey.
Even a moderately successful attempt at a romantic comedy only needs a couple with chemistry, a few funny lines, maybe a little physical comedy. But, with When Harry Tries to Marry, the interesting dynamic of a young man torn between practical and proven Indian traditions and American ideas of love and excitement, is entirely misemployed and squandered.

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