Tanu Weds Manu Returns - 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.
- 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.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Facebook Twitter YouTube Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: Eros International
- Producer: Sunil A Lulla, Krishika Lulla
- Director: Aanand L Rai
- Lead Cast: R Madhavan, Kangna Ranaut
- Supporting Cast: Dhanush, Jimmy Sheirgill, Eijaz Khan, Swara Bhaskar, Deepak Dobriyal, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Rajendra Gupta, Navni Parihar, K K Raina, Dipti Mishra, Rajesh Sharma
- Story: Himanshu Sharma
- Cinematography: Chirantan Das
- Choreography: Bosco Martis, Ceasar Gonsalves
- Music Director: Krsna Solo
- Costume Designer: Ankita Jha, Reza Shariffi
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 121 minutes
- Reviewer: Pradeep Menon
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Comedy, Relationships, Romance
Tanu Weds Manu Returns - Trailer
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