Tanu Weds Manu Returns - Review

wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV (?)
quick review:

The music will not leave your head in a hurry, and the performances will wow you. But Tanu Weds Manu Returns isn't likely to remain with you as film, because of its rather ludicrous plot. Add to that the issues regarding gender and sexism that every film by Aanand L Rai tends to contain, and what you're left with is a film that could have been, but isn't.

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Let's talk about Kangana Ranaut later.

First, let's talk about writer-director Aanand L Rai. With his last two films - Raanjhanaa and Tanu Weds Manu - Rai has shown that he can bring out the flavour and texture of the Hindi heartland in particular and North India in general spot on. Yet, both those films also brought out India's inherent sexism (bordering on misogyny) in a manner rarely seen before. But here's the thing - it is a bit of a task, attempting to figure out if he is actually attempting satire, or if he is revelling in this sexism, making it enjoyable for the casual movie-going public.

Tanu Weds Manu Returns is a film that keeps you interested at all times. It is beautifully acted, funny for the most, and it has a few moments that make you truly celebrate the fact that women can be as liberated, courageous and stunningly larger-than-life as men in popular Hindi cinema are. It also has Rai's trademark of capturing milieu like few others. But look a little deeper and you may find yourself wondering if Rai is actually being progressive, or whether he is merely using stereotypes to his advantage, to make a film that appeals to the masses.

Right off the bat, Tanu Weds Manu Returns starts off exactly where the first film left us. Then, cut to four years later, we see that the couple is, expectedly, facing some serious marital problems; so much so that they're on the cusp of divorce. With the marriage in a state of despair, Manu finds himself faced with an unexpected development - another woman in his life, one who looks exactly like Tanu.

With its brisk pace, rat-a-tat dialogue, catchy music and truly noteworthy performances, it is quite easy to be charmed by the film. There's always something happening, and there's always a line to laugh at.

However, it is also an exceedingly convoluted film. Manu's idea of love, in particular, is so frustrating that one wonders if such a man would ever be happy in life. He seems to fall in and out of love-at-first-sight with impossible ease. Basically, he is a spineless twit who can't seem to think straight unless someone whacks him on the head with a sledgehammer.

Then, there's Tanu. Yes, she is a breath of fresh air as a female lead character in our cinema. You wouldn't want to mess with her even on your best day. On a bad day, well, God help you. As a human being, she is beautifully flawed. A real life Tanu would be an inspiration. But as a cinematic character, she is too one-note to tolerate for too long. Over the course of two films, Tanu has shown no graph, no growth, no sense of learning with age. She may be outrageously funny, but after a point, it becomes hard to take her seriously.

The new player in the game, Tanu's lookalike, a Haryanvi girl named Datto, is easily the best thing about the film. And here's where Kangana Ranaut's range as an actor truly comes to the fore. At the script level the two characters are like chalk and cheese anyway. At the performance level, Ranaut manages to infuse such varied personalities into both characters that it is hard to imagine the same person has played both roles. She has more than a couple of clap-trap scenes in the film, the credit for which must go to her as much as to Aanand L Rai.

However, as much fun as the film can be, it is also an equally baffling film. There are at least two pointless subplots that add no value to it, all while you're expecting some sort of jaw-dropping payoff that never arrives. The main plot itself is, at best, asinine.

Eventually, the film is held together pretty much by the performances across the board, mostly by the supporting characters. Jimmy Sheirgill and Deepak Dobriyal reprise their roles from the earlier film, and they are pitch-perfect in their performances. New entrant Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, who also featured in Raanjhana as Dhanush's best friend, is outstanding as the crazed-lawyer-turned-lovestruck-maniac. R Madhavan has an affable presence, but there are just too many fine actors around him for him to truly make an impact. Obviously, prime among them is Kangana Ranaut.

Despite being let down by the writing of her character, it is Ranaut's spunk and spontaneity that carry you through to the end of the film. This film is no Queen, but it will be no surprise at all if she's what stays with you the longest, after watching the film.

Aanand L Rai clearly is one of the more talented directors in Hindi cinema. But now, more than ever, it seems likes he makes films for an audience that likes the kind of humour that propagates the very gender inequalities and stereotypes that the contemporary (but mostly urban) Indian citizen abhors. Tanu Weds Manu Returns - its rather senseless name notwithstanding - can be a fun film to watch and laugh with. But if you're really looking to take something away from it, then all you're going to be left with is Kangana Ranaut's swagger.

This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Aggressive behaviour, but no violence as such.
  • Language: Fairly clean.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None.
  • Concept: Tanu & Manu have marital problems, leading to some truly strange situations.
  • General Look and Feel: The film feels authentic in its hardcore North Indian setting.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 2
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 4
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 2
  • Music Director: 3.5
  • Lyrics: 3

Tanu Weds Manu Returns - Movie Details

Tanu Weds Manu Returns - Trailer

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Comments (21)

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Fan:

I had not yet seen TWM. Given that a sequel is lined up, I thought about giving it a dekko just to see why and what would a sequel have.

I admit I didn't enjoy TWM. It is a horrible film - no positives (except probably Jimmy Shergill).

And totally agree with "Returns" suffix in the title. Seems like for whatever quirky reason TWM made money for the producers, and they are hoping to milk it to the maximum and don't care about finer aspects of giving a relevant name or packaging it correctly.

Fan:

*** And totally agree with @Meetu's remark about the "Returns" suffix in the title ***

TimELiebe:

It was pretty lame, wasn't it, @Fan? I figured that it was some kind of indie masala, since its biggest name as far as I could see was Jimmy Sheirgill (known to us American fans as "that kid in the MUNNABHAI movies"!), so seeing it coming out under Eros's banner is a bit strange - kind of like finding out some movie done by college kids was released in theaters by Warner Brothers!

@Meetu - after the last one? I'm really waiting to see if you like this movie before I even consider watching it.

Anuj:

365 days later, film lovers in this nation continue to rave and adore Kangana Ranaut. Nothing's changed in the last 1 year apart from the title of the movie. If you thought QUEEN is the best she could get, in TWMR she is unbelievable. The QUEEN is back with a SWAGGER which indeed very very sexy! A sureshot HIT. Hats off #KanganaRanaut

Fan:

@TimELiebe: I like your analogy of college kids releasing something under Warner Bros banner :-) Jimmy i thought was heavily influenced by Sanjay Dutt.

BTW: the TMW returns seems to have got extremely positive reviews from Indian media on Day 1 of release. So seems to be an improvement on the first part. Haven't seen it myself though.

Anuj:

I guess Meeta did not get tickets to watch this film :P

Fan:

Good review. Having seen the original this review speaks. Characterisations are spot on. The ludicrous plot is spot on. And unlike most of the reviews doing the rounds yesterday this one seems honest as it does not go overboard in praising the film. And at the same time the review makes it clear about who are likely to enjoy the film and who will tend to be disappointed.

Good review.

Anuj:

Here is my review for this film :

http://thesimplemoviereviewer.blogspot.in/

Anuj:

Initially i was shocked to see this movie being given the same rating as BV. Before i saw that this is a different reviewer.

Fan:

Yes, I too noticed the catch on dvd for sure rating the first time. And I made a link to BV. And then I read the review and saw that the review is balanced.

BTW the supposedly neutral "catch on dvd for sure " has been given to many critically and commercially successful films.

Anuj:

"catch on dvd for sure" is an apt rating for TWNR. My rating for this movie is 3/5. If not for Kangana's supreme flair as Kusum, this would have been a silly damp squib. Kangana alone is worth 2 out of those 3 points. As for BV, the wogma rating imo should be "switch channels if on cable"

Raj:

Unlike Bombay Velvet which excelled in technical department and yet failed as a movie, TWMR though with countless technical flaws excels as a movie experience.

Fan:

First things first, I was not planning to watch this one. But the enormous amount of positive reviews made me change my mind and I watched it. And yes, it is an entertaining film.

The film is illogical from the word go, and that is classical Bollywood for you. There is no story and there are absolutely no twists that you could not have predicted upfront. Even the interval high-moment of showing the photo of the to-be-groom was highly anticipated. So no particular marks for story.

The Tanu and Manu roles are as boring and annoying as in part one. No surprises, full continuity maintained from part one. What makes the film sort out is the character of Datto, well portrayed by a buck-toothed tom-boy haircut avatar of Kangana armed with a Haryanvi dialect and accent. She (Datto) carries the film on her shoulders. Having said that, Datto had a single expression face almost throughout the film - there were hardly any changes to her expressions. Only glimpse of emotions were through the voice modulations - that showed us what Datto is going through in each situation. Although I did get this feeling that the lip sync was not pefect - raising doubts of somebody other than Kangana doing the dubbing for Datto.

I found the supporting cast in superlative form, and the majority of the laugh out loud moments were in scenes and dialogs from the supporting cast. Their roles are well written, and of course well performed.

Word of advice: knowing part one (rather seeing part one) is important before seeing this film, just to understand the history behind Raja Awasthi episode. I am sure that had I not seen the part one then most of the movie's context would have got last.

Lastly coming to the stupendous success that the film is facing. It is a good film, and was destined to be a success (read make money for the producers). I believe that the drought of good films, or big budget films, is helping a lot the collections of this film. It has been some time now that people have visited theatres, and a clean product is lapped up. I am not so sure that had this movie been released amongst the peak period of big budget releases that it would have performed so well (it would not have flopped but would have been a moderate success).

Sanjay:

Brilliant acting from Kangana. This movie might be bigger than DDLJ ( both in revenues and in popularity). There are very few movies whose characters stick in your mind for so long - Kusum is surely one of the characters. Jimmy shergill evokes all the mannerisms from a dabang guy from UP. It's was pure fun to watch such a movie. I am sure the box office collections will be more than 100 crores ...

meetu:

@Anuj he he he. I was out on a vacation and Pradeep was kind enough to fill in. :D

Anuj:

@Sanjay: Man, have u totally lost it? DDLJ goes down to TWMR in revenue and popularity?? DDLJ is a cult classic of magnamopous proportions, a movie that elevated SRK and Kajol to instant superstardom. Netting 60 cr in 1995 it would rank among the top 5 biggest blockbuster in the history of Indian cinema. The adjusted nett collection of DDLJ for 2015 would be INR 500 cr+. TWMR would not even be among the top 5 grossers of 2015, let alone all time. Agreed TWMR is a huge moneyspinner if u consider the investments but c'mon, DDLJ?? Its like saying that Don-2 made more money than Amitabh's Don in 1978 and hence Don-2 is a more popular revenue generator! LOL

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 3
Story: 3
Lead Actors: 4
Character Artists: 3

Dialogues: 3.5
Screenplay: 3
Music Director: 1
Lyrics: 0.5

TimELiebe:

@Fan - yeah, I'd wondered if Jimmy Shergill wasn't riffing on Sanjay Dutt with his comic "goon" character. He does a good job at it, though he lacks that hangdog charisma that Dutt has - my wife Tammy calls him that "Big Ole Teddy Bear".

@Pradep - sounds like you liked this movie more than we liked the first one (my comments on that are somewhere on this site). I hadn't realized this director had a rep for doing things with female characters that are either satiric or misogynistic, depending on how you're looking at it. Tanu really put us off, and Manu seemed like something of a drip - and boy, were the songs unmemorable!

Maybe we'll see if it crops up on ErosNow some Sunday night....

Anuj:

@MEETA : "I just don't think she can carry long dialogues." ~ This is what you had said about Kangana in 2011 while reviewing Tanu Weds Manu. I'm sure you're eating your words after watching her DATTO avatar in the sequel. Kangana's natural talent coupled with her everlasting desire to keep improving as an actress has no doubt made her Hindi cinema's best actress in over a decade now. She's miles ahead of every single contemporary right now, who're still trying to get out of their barbie doll image!

meetu:

@Anuj I will say that again if I ever watched Tanu Weds Manu again (though not sure, why I'd do that). And I am in love with her since Queen for sure. Even in Tanu Weds Manu, Tanu's character wouldn't have been able to carry the long lines that Datto does. And that is how she has grown. Just amazing!

"Eating my words" would be if I regretted saying that I love her work now, and I absolutely don't mind saying that over and over again.

Ehinome Okojie:

Congrats to team TWMR, but i guess this collections are just to spite Fox and Kashyap,
Katti Batti and I Love New Year will struggle.
Yeah Kangana is getting more refined and tastier like old wine, R.Madhavan one the 3 idiots, tell you what TWMRis a breakthrough film, the biggest hit since 3 Idiots, only Aashiqui 2 has been close. Not overhyped Dabangg, CE, and PK.

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