Tanu Weds Manu became an instant winner with everyone when it came out in 2011, largely due to its renewed take on marriages and the female lead, played meticulously by Kangana Ranaut. Director Aanand L Rai and his writer, Himanshu Sharma, went on to make Raanjhanaa in 2013 and then came back for the TWM sequel. The first trailer shined amongst a lot of expectations, and the songs cracked the audience likability code right away. But that may not be enough for a great film, and more importantly, to snap out of the curse of the sequel.
One. Kangana Ranaut is India’s current best actress. It is not about the wide buffet of roles she can yahoo about, but my remark is derived from the sheer ability to undo the star power, and dive deep into the character’s skin. Kangana may be the only actress who has no qualms about looking ugly, unlikable or uncouth. Or to maniacally gearshift into an unknown territory without her PR making big news about it. In Tanu Weds Manu Returns, she is phenomenal, both as Tanu and as Kusum, the new look alike.
Two. TWMR may arguably have the best first scene Indian cinemas has seen in ages. Staged simplistically as a verbal standoff between Tanu and Manu (R Madhavan), 4 years after their marriage in 2011, the scene leapfrogs you into the story right away. The snappy lines between the couple cut each other up like swordsmen on steroids and you are left in smithereens due to uncontrollable laughter.
So much so that, by the time you reach the mid point of the film, you are likely to have recognizable pain in the guts. People were standing up and clapping in the theater I watched the film, and most other times, I found myself missing the next punch trying to recover from the previous one. Its been a while a film has induced so much guffaw with this tenacity. The humor does dip in the second half as some unfortunate snags show up, but more on that later.
Tanu and Manu have been married for 4 years now and their marriage is not working. Manu creates a scene at a rehabilitation center and he is taken into custody. Tanu leaves him and comes back to India, and starts hanging out with all her ex-boyfriends, including Raja Awasthi (Jimmy Shergill). When Manu comes out, he rushes back to India as well, where he meets Kusum, who looks exactly like Tanu but hails from a Haryanvi family, is a state level athelete cum student at Delhi University. Manu receives a divorce notice from Tanu, initiated by a conniving tenant at Tanu’s house, Chintu (a brilliant Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) and decides to remarry to Kusum. Thats quite a lot of meat in there, except when you enter the second half, you feel that the writer is looking for contrived excuses to buy out time for the climax. Kusum, Manu and Pappi (a delectable Deepak Dobriyal) unnecessarily go to Chandigarh to get Pappi married and then Kusum brings them back to her village. All this looks like a stretched out scheme to delay Manu’s marriage to Kusum. Even the final act seems a bit scrappy but the film does not slither due to its able performances and constant plugs of humor.
Few damp patches aside, TWMR is a delightful riot. There is just so much to like here that nitpicking would be an arduous task. Himanshu Sharma and Aanand L Rai turn the topic of a simple marriage around its head, shatter your classical notions and yet not make the end product unctuous or righteous. Yes, despite the audience friendly ending, but it does make sense if you reflect upon it. And they do all this with truckloads of fun. And if anyone is to be thanked apart from the, it is the actors. A lot of Rai’s favorites come back together to hone and shine this gem. If anyone’s vim can match neck to neck Kangana’s, it is Deepak Dobriyal. He takes Pappi to a striking new level, where he adds flavor to each scene, either by word or action. Rajesh Sharma as Kusum’s brother is first rate and Jimmy Shergill is well restrained and effective. Swara Bhaskar does not get much scope and Eijaz Khan is alright. Amidst all the noise, however, it is R Madhavan whose contribution usually gets sidelined. Madhavan is a veteran now, and he does not care about the limelight. But he is as much the pillar of TWMR as Kangana. With his quiet demeanor, he is resplendent, if not stunning.
Eros International and Color Yellow Productions have mounted TWMR on a reasonable scale with no real compromises. Chirantan Das’s cinematography is easy on the eyes, while Hemal Kothari’s Editing is top notch. The music of the film is a big hit and is produced by an ensemble, including Anmol Malik, Krsna and RDB. Banno, their flagship song, is already leading the charts. To be fairly honest, TWMR is a film where the job was more than half done at the script and casting stage. The technical departments add little to the film.
On the whole, Tanu Weds Manu Returns fades away the prequel with much glory. The first day collections are above the mark, and the word of mouth will nimbly make it a runaway hit, I suspect. And rightly so, as for most parts, it is like an overflowing torrent of hilarity, sheathing away a lot of relationship intricacies which unravel in a not so cliched way. All said and done, Aanand L Rai has an ace of spade in his hand and it would be foolish to miss this raging entertainer at the theaters.
Rating – 3.5/5