Tanuja Trivedi and Manu Sharma are back with Tanu Weds Manu Returns. And so are Pappi, Payal, Jassi and Raja Awasthi. Director Anand L Rai's sequel to his 2011 hit film Tanu Weds Manu, hits theatres on Friday, four years after the first film won hearts and box offices.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns traces the problems of a love marriage: You fall in love with someone, but with time personalities change; while some of us learn to grow up or grow old with the one we loved, most of us feel disappointed and irritated. Also Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) and Manu (R Madhavan) were the best example for ‘opposites attract each other’; but can opposites also live and grow old with each other? That's the tricky question Anand explores in the sequel. The mismatch of a couple looks like romantic attraction in the beginning but turns out to be one of the main struggles of a marriage.
First things first. Kangana Ranaut has done a fabulous job with her characters Tanu and Datto. Tanu hasn't lost her weird, irresponsible and audacious ways, Datto is a sincere, young girl, a fiercely independent one, who takes up responsibilities. From the body languages of the two women to their accents, Kangana aces it to the T. She proves yet again that she is one of the few heroines in Bollywood who is willing to experiment with different roles and still come out as the most convincing every time.
This film is yet another reminder of the expertise with which Anand L Rai handles small town stories. Kanpur, Lucknow and Delhi were pivotal to the connect the first film had on north-Indian audience. Add to that Haryana’s Jhajjar and the sequel is more like a sumptuous Indian meal with an extra dollop of white butter: fresh, delicious, soft and rustic at the same time.
In the introductory sequence of the movie, that takes off at Kangana-Madhavan’s wedding (where the last one ended), we see kids grabbing scoops of ice-creams with their hands and women teasing the newly-wed couple. Anand has proved his connect with small towns in Tanu Weds Manu and in Sonam Kapoor-Dhanush-Abhay Deol-starrer Raanjhanaa. With Tanu Weds Manu Returns, he moves a step ahead, keeping the colourful frames intact and adding an extra dose of the rustic flavour of north Indian towns. The nuances of small-town families, the involvement of the entire ‘mohalla’ in someone’s private affairs and everything that defines the experience of living in the small cities and towns of north India will add to the connect that audience will definitely feel with the movie.
Another gem that Anand brings to us is Himanshu Sharma. Were it not for Sharma’s screenplay and dialogues, the desi flavour in Tanu Weds Manu Returns would have lost its appeal. Tanuja Trivedi (Kangana) is described as the "Batman" of her ‘mohalla’ and she flaunts "the legends of the Batman" – her crazy past lovers - as her trophies. A Bollywood entertainer in the true sense, Tanu Weds Manu harps on playing with words, in sync with the north Indian culture and mindsets. And a Payal (Swara) doesn’t want to tell her husband that their kid was born from artificial insemination because "Ye log mardangi bhi to sperm count se naapte hain, ego hurt ho jayega".
Raj Shekhar’s lyrics add to the desi connect in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Every single song in the movie, from Banno to Mat Jaa Re to Ghani Bawri, all of them are an intrinsic part of the narrative.
Deepak Dobriyal, who is back as Pappi, Madhavan's friend, is the show stealer in most of the sequences. Anand has given Deepak the most hilarious dialogues and the actor rises beyond expectations to shine throughout the movie. Tanu Weds Manu showcased the combined skills of the supporting cast (Swara Bhaskar, Eijaz Khan, Jimmy Sheirgill and Deepak Dobriyal). The sequel does not offer much screen-space to Swara and Eijaz but Deepak clearly wins the show. His comic timing, the way he continues to be Manu's sidekick and his mannerisms will win you all over again. The theatre actor who has always done fabulous job with his characters surpasses himself and gives us one of the most hilarious onscreen characters of recent times.
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub plays Advocate Arun Kumar Singh aka Chintu, the latest addition to Tanu’s long list of lovers. I will let Chintu’s dialogue describe his own character: In his first meeting with Raja Awasthi (Jimmy), Chintu says, "Hum hain kandha. Jab ladki dukhi hoti hai to humare paas aati hai. Aapne jhatak tha to doctor aa gaya, abhi doctor ne jhatak diya hai to hum hain. Jab hum jhatakein to to tum wapas lapak lena." Zeeshan has a small role in the film but his acting prowess ensures you end up loving him as much as all other characters in the movie.
R Madhavan excels in the underrated character that he has at hand. Not all actors can play the second fiddle to strong women characters around and yet hold their fort. Swara and Eijaz are as lovable as they were in the first movie. And so are all other characters; be it Manu’s parents, Tanu’s dad and mom, Datto’s family or the random shopkeepers, everyone’s authentic portrayal of their parts makes you split in laughter riots. Jimmy, is clearly one of the most underrated actors Bollywood has. He brings his own charm to Raja Awasthi’s character.
If you want to go nitpicking and zoom in on the faults, the film is not flawless. The opening sequence shows Kangana and Madhavan seeking marriage counseling, in a mental asylum! Also, at one point, Tanu breaks into a total Haryanavi song, with the accent et all: When did this Kanpur girl learn Haryanavi? Also, the ending seemed more in confirmation with the cultural mind sets of the target audience than what should have been the natural course of events for the characters as they unfold through the movie. Another sequence is where Zeeshan, a law graduate, threatens Jimmy. Instead of giving it back to the young kid, Jimmy simply backs off. A person who doesn’t think twice before firing gun shots at his own wedding, deserves a better faceoff. Also, there are a little too many ‘filmy coincidences’ and similarities between Datto and Tanu that make you cringe.
The best part about Tanu Weds Manu Returns, however, is that none of these flaws actually hamper the hilarious and rooted narrative. The brilliant performances of ALL the actors, main and supporting, alongwith the colourful frames and the funny and rustic dialogues of Himanshu Sharma ensure a laugh riot. The film is a treat for everyone, those who watched and loved the first part and the ones who have not.
Watch Tanu Weds Manu Returns if you love Bollywood. watch it if you follow Bollywood. and if you look down upon Bollywood, watch the movie to see how entertaining the industry can be. For people outside north India, the film is an authentic portrayal of middle-class small town India. And it is funny as hell! We’d say this is a must watch.