Review: Tanu Weds Manu Returns

Review: Tanu Weds Manu Returns

Director: Aanand L Rai; Cast: R Madhavan, Kangana Ranaut, Deepak Dobriyal, Jimmy Shergill, Swara Bhaskar et al

Director Aanand L Rai returns with his loved characters Tanuja Trivedi (Kangana Ranaut) and Manoj Sharma (R Madhavan) from his 2011 film Tanu Weds Manu in this sequel.

Rai’s imaginative thinking is on display right from the credits, which roll over images of a typical old-school, unimaginative wedding video chronicling the wedding of Tanuja (Tanu) and Manoj (Manu), in the process also refreshing viewers’ memories of the major players in the story. The film opens in equally tangy fashion with the couple having a go at each other and the wife deserting the husband in a mental asylum in a foreign land, travelling back home disgusted and exasperated with an unsatisfactory marital life. Tanu Weds Manu Returns boasts the original characters from first instalment including the parents, Tanu’s friend Payal (Swara Bhaskar in an effortless, endearing performance), Manu’s pal Pappi (Deepak Dobriyal matching the leads blow for blow), the clueless, hapless parents and of course, Tanu’s old flame Raja Awasthi (Jimmy Shergill adequately dashing in a crucial character role). But sequels need new spice to become more than franchise-milking efforts. Enter new character 1: Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as an advocate advocate squatting at Tanu’s house as a tenant. The actor has every right to be disappointed, as the character fizzles out despite a strong start, largely due to a script lacking plan and destination for him. However, it is the second of the major new characters which cracks the jackpot for Rai. Yes, that’s Kangana Ranaut as the feisty, no-nonsense, grounded state-level athlete Kusum Sangwan aka Datto.

If Kangana as Tanu is worth the money, as Kusum, she is the audience’s delight. A refreshing combination of confidence and naivety, Kusum can sing jazz in her Haryanvi accent without being self-conscious yet (literally) fight her family to marry the man of her choice. She is smart enough to know when to get off the bus and save herself the bumps if there’s nowhere to go in a relationship and also strong enough to stand up for herself against ‘oversmart’ big-city girls.

(Spoilers ahead!)

It is perhaps because one warms up so much to Kusum that the cowardly vacillation of Manu in the climax rankles one badly and deeply. After a largely smooth, funny and enjoyable ride till nearly two-thirds of the movie, the director and his lead character suddenly begin to lose their nerves, ending up finally with all their grace lost, in decisions so insensitive in their safety and inconsistency that it becomes hard to empathise with them for their past achievements and sufferings respectively. The sight of Kusum breaking down behind a closed door, after putting up a brave front for the wedding guests, as she breaks off her own dream wedding refusing to accept a “consolation” trophy husband, haunts long after the credits roll.

As for the actors, Deepak Dobriyal’s comic act is hilarious and Swara Bhaskar could soon be landing meatier parts. Kangana continues to raise the bar and this film will rank high up in her resume for the range she showcases, with an élan now becoming expected of her. Kusum’s intro of herself and her shy courtship scenes are delightful in contrast with the suave and uninhibited Tanu, with the icing on the cake being the face-off between the two Kanganas in a high-voltage scene. She is truly one-of-a-kind and may her tribe grow, bringing with them new hues to Indian cinema. Kudos to Madhavan too, first for agreeing to take on a character that ends up with as faint a whimper as this; and second for credibly delivering it with an economy of expressions. The music is off the beaten track blending with the flow of the story, the wacky Old-school Girl and the melodious O Sathi Mere (wonder why it did not feature in the film itself!) being personal favourites.

Finally, it is just its choice of the conventional over the correct, after having boldly handled multiple social notorieties, that makes Tanu Weds Manu Returns a lesser film as it ends up delivering less than what it promised till the final lap began.

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