Since I had liked Tanu Weds Manu (2011) very much despite its story being unrealistic, I was very much eager to watch its sequel coming after a gap of 4 years. Besides, the praise-showering reviews of this movie increased my desire to watch it even further. Now after watching it, I acknowledge that it’s a very entertaining movie but at the same time, I also feel that why almost every reviewer is going gaga over it is something that deserves a deep research.
In my own review of Tanu Weds Manu, I had termed it as a realistic presentation of an unrealistic story. However for Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015), I have to assert that it’s an unrealistic presentation of a unrealistic story. It’s a joyful ride for sure and perhaps its entertainment value has overpowered the critics so much that they have very conveniently ignored its minuses which are glaring and also the fact that the climax is a complete letdown meant to please the conventional Indian mindset only.The best review of Tanu Weds Manu was, in my view, that written by esteemed authoress, poetess and reviewer Geetashree Chatterjee in which she had raised a very pertinent question as to why Tanu wedded Manu leaving her long time beau (Raja Awasthi). In Geeta Ji’s view, even if the cupid’s arrow struck her, the question remained as to whether such a marriage would last. The esteemed reviewer correctly opined that the real story begins after the marriage when a wayward shrew is tamed to domesticity. She wanted to know whether post her marriage Tanu would worship Pati Parameshwar or continue to put her foot down and throw tantrum in the face of opposition (read suppression). She was skeptical about Tanu and Manu’s living happily after wedding and wondered whether Tanu would accept her shacked state after an unbridled spree of Bohemian lifestyle. Geeta Ji expected a sequel addressing her questions and her desire reached the filmmaker (through telepathy, how else ?).
While trying to find out answers to Geeta Ji’s very pertinent questions, I put forward a thought that Tanu really wanted to change and her transformation would take place through Manu’s relentless and unconditional love. Since I was able to relate to Manu, I also felt that there could be a male of this type for real (tolerant to any height and having the love for the lady in question as deep as the Pacific Ocean) who could definitely lead his sweetheart to the desired change. I also felt that Tanu did not love Raja Awasthi and realized the futility of her madness for him after seeing Manu’s true love for herself. And that realization only led to her decision to marry Manu and that only could lead her to change herself for the better so that the wedding of the seemingly polar opposites could sustain. The director Anand L. Rai alongwith his script-writer Himanshu Sharma proved my wishful thinking as wrong with the apprehensions of Geeta Ji emerging as true.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns opens with the wedding of the couple and after the credits the real story starts with a highly unbelievable (and distasteful) scene in the office of a marriage consultancy culminating in Manu’s being confined to an asylum and Tanu’s returning to India to re-adopt her carefree and irresponsible life style while living with her parents (and not her in-laws). Well, she quite comfortably spoils the matrimonial prospects of her sister with her unbelievably weird act in front of the would be groom and his family members and checks with all her male admirers whether they are still responsive to her advances. Raja Awasthi is still unmarried and she gets a warm welcome from him.
Mercifully she had informed the chaddy buddy of Manu that Manu’s in an asylum in U.K. and it was HIS duty to get him released. Well, Manu gets released from the asylum and comes back to India. Here he comes across a look-alike of Tanu who is a Haryanvi girl Kusum fondly called as Datto (because of her big teeth). She is a student in the Delhi University and had got admission there through sports-quota (she is a good athlete). The hero who is much older to her, gets attracted to her initially because she is Tanu’s look-alike but sincerely falls in love with her because by nature and aptitude, she is much different and better than Tanu. And he is able to win her heart too. After many twists and interesting events in the story, the moment of Manu’s wedding with Datto arrives. But Tanu also reaches there alongwith Raja and many other characters of the story. She hands over the divorce papers to Manu duly signed by her but stays at the wedding place to witness the wedding. Can Manu stick to his decision to marry Datto ?
While in the prequel, Tanu’s character entertained the audience with the love for Manu sprouting in her heart winning the hearts of the audience, in the sequel, it’s not Tanu who wins hearts, it’s her look-alike Datto. In fact, Tanu’s character irritates only throughout the movie while the audience is highly impressed by the sensible and level-headed yet very sensitive and lovely Datto who appears to be a perfect match for Manu, a London-based medico. She is daring and decisive yet understanding and sacrificing. The way she responds to Tanu’s sarcastic remarks aimed at her, speaks volumes of her exemplary character. If Tanu Weds Manu Returns is an impressive movie, it’s largely because of Datto’s character.
Before dealing with the conclusion of the movie and the lead characters as developed by the writer-director duo, I admit that it’s a gripping movie carrying away the audience alongwith the story for a major part of it. The art director, like the prequel, has done a splendid job by bringing the real middle class and small town India alive on the screen. Dialogs in UPian Hindi as well as Haryanvi are very impressive though Tanu’s Sher-o-Shaayari reveals her character more than the situation present. Music is also endearing though the much-lauded Banno song is actually a folk song which was used (with somewhat different lyrics) in Dushmani (1995) also.
The newly added character of Chintu, a bullying type law student impresses the audience on one hand whereas the old character of the hero’s friend Pappi enthralls it throughout the movie. The complete cast has done justice to the respective roles. However several characters of the prequel have been reduced to mere junior artistes or caricatures in the sequel including that of Raja Awasthi which has been played by a highly talented artiste like Jimmy Shergill. This authoritative and highly impressive character of the prequel comes a dud in the sequel. The parents of the lead pair, i.e., Tanu and Manu appear to be mere hapless spectators of the whole proceedings making their existence in the story as meaningless. The track of the one-sided love of Pappi leading to the kidnapping of his love-interest who happens to be the sister of the hero’s friend Jassi and sister-in-law of the heroine’s friend is also irrelevant to the story. The honour-killing sequence also appears to be imposed on the main story dealing with a burning social issue in a shallow manner.
Madhavan as Manu has delivered a mature performance but he should do something considerably about his weight. I had written in my review of Tanu Weds Manu that Kangana Ranaut was miscast in the role of Tanu. My opinion about her as Tanu is more or less the same regarding this movie also. However in her second role as the Haryanvi speaking athlete Datto, she has delivered an unforgettable performance. Mesmerizing ! Spellbinding ! Hypnotic !
While in the prequel, Tanu’s character was that of a rebellion without a cause, in the sequel, her character appears to be that of a sadist who not only wants anybody and everybody dance to her tunes but also doesn’t want to allow others to be happy. She is not only a demanding and nagging wife but also an insensitive one who has no regrets for leaving her husband in an asylum and move to India to lead her erstwhile irresponsible life once again. She still wants Raja to marry her but unwilling to allow Manu to marry someone else. She comes to the wedding venue in the ending reels with all the characters of the story (most of whom are supporting her without giving a damn for Manu’s sufferings and feelings) and then emotionally blackmails Manu to withdraw his feet in the last moment. Why ? You are not ready to make even the smallest effort to keep your husband as happy and make your marriage to work and you are also not ready to allow him to find his happiness with someone else who is much better than you in all the respects. What can be the term for this attitude except sadism ?
And I was surprised to read the review of a reviewer showing happiness over Manu’s sufferings and Tanu’s torturing him. That review opines that Manu (say the whole male community) deserves to suffer only in the hands of Tanu (representing the females) as Manu himself asks Tanu in the beginning sequence whether she’s willing to seek revenge for the womenfolk’s sufferings for centuries from one single generation of menfolk. Such kind of female chauvinism appears to have spread across the so-called modern Indian society. That’s why Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain (1999) was a box office hit and TWMR is also being lauded as if it were some outstanding movie. If sadism and chauvinism on the part of males is undesirable, can it be considered as desirable on the part of the females ?
And quite interestingly, the same reviewers have not noticed the centuries old male-ego appeasement in the episode pertaining to the heroine’s friend’s getting motherhood through in-vitro technology and hiding this fact from her husband. What’s the need to hide such a significant fact from the husband and prior to that the fact that he’s not having viable sperms in his body ? Then she is shown as apologizing to him in the end (the husband is shown as unmoved by her apology). What’s this apology meant for ? Is it a crime for an issueless woman to get motherhood this way ? Thus both male-chauvinism and female-chauvinism have been supported in this movie.
Manu, the hero develops cold feet in the most challenging moment of his life and compels Datto to take a call which is painful for her because she has loved him from the core of her heart. You have no business to play a coward after sowing the seed of your love in the heart of an innocent and trusting girl. Tanu is again shown as nagging Manu when the ending credits roll. Despite emotionally blackmailing Manu to stop him from marrying Datto, she’s not shown anywhere as realizing her errors (leave aside repenting for them). What can Manu do now except tolerating this attitude of hers for the balance part of his life ? Then should the ending quote for this movie be – ‘And they lived unhappily ever after’ ? Tanu is a sadist so she will find her happiness in torturing Manu. And Indian feminists must be happy to see Manu’s doom as they (rightly) feel that he deserves that only.
I am a humanist and I equally discard both masculism and feminism. To me misandry is as undesirable as misogyny. And I feel that emotional blackmailing of any kind is nothing short of a crime. And that’s why I can’t support the conclusion of this movie despite acknowledging its entertainment value.
My heart bleeds for Datto, the confident as well as sensitive girl with a golden-heart who gets a raw deal in this story. She keeps on trying to give and give only to the others, getting nothing in the end except a bitter lesson and painful memories for her life. Move on Datto, life is too big and you definitely deserve a much better soulmate than the coward Manu. And let me apprise you that when you were bursting into tears in your privacy in the penultimate scene of this story, you were not alone. All the sincere lovers of the world were shedding tears for you.
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