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Movie review: 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns' is an endearing marital mess

DECCAN CHRONICLE | KUSUMITA DAS
Published May 22, 2015, 5:13 pm IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 3:05 am IST
The sequel is basically a picture of the much taken for granted ellipses

Rating: 3 stars

Director: Aanand L. Rai

 

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, R. Madhavan, Jimmy Shergill, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, Swara Bhaskar, Deepak Dobriyal

We never thought there’d be a sequel to Tanu Weds Manu. After all, they were, as Woody Allen would say, “a match made in heaven, by a retarded angel.” But Bollywood and happily-ever-afters go back a long way. So Tanu wed Manu and then she was whisked away to London by her doctor saab, where they lived happily ever after

Or did they? The sequel is basically a picture of the much taken for granted ellipses that follow a “happily ever after”. In this case “ever after” came with an expiry date of four years. Now Tanu and Manu are a bitter, constantly bickering couple, and for some reason they are on their way to a mental asylum in Twickenham to seek marriage counselling. This flags off a series of inexplicable events that occur over the next two hours. But you don’t mind those hiccups much, because the delightful writing by Himanshu Sharma, delivered through convincing performances, led by the inimitable Kangana Ranaut, this time multiplied by two, makes it all easy to swallow. And there’s also a sweet aftertaste.

Leaving Manu under shock treatment in the mental asylum, Tanu promptly buys a ticket to India to visit her folks in her hometown Kanpur. The sari and the bindi goes out the window. She gets a new wardrobe, which is sometimes nothing more than a bath towel wrapped around her, as she chats up a prospective groom and his family who have come to see her cousin. The wild child is back. And so are her paramours, old and new. She doesn't lose much time in sending Manu the divorce papers, who, with a little help from Tanu and his best friend Pappi (Deepak Dobriyal) manages to get out of the asylum and fly back to Delhi.

Among Tanu’s newest admirers is her tenant Chintu (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub), who’s also a law student and has his best interests in mind in hastening Tanu’s divorce. Tanu’s old and loyal squeeze Raja Awasthi (Jimmy Shergill) is also very much around. The lives of the familiar characters have progressed realistically. They have all changed as much as one can possibly in four years. Nothing stark, but look closely, and you’ll spot the differences.

Enter the jungle Datto, or Kusum as they call her. She’s Tanu’s doppelganger and the resemblance is restricted to looks alone. A soon-to-be-divorced Manu bumps into her and boom, loses his heart to this fiercely independent, motor mouth state level athlete from Haryana, who has fought her way out of the regressive patriarchy in her hometown to get admission in a good college in Delhi University. She’s Tanu, with a pixie cut and someone who’s also beautiful on the inside.

When two partners stop liking each other, all they want is for the other person to become better, before looking for another partner altogether. That’s exactly what Manu wants and he gets, a better Tanu, but one who is a different person altogether.

The story doesn’t delve into the seriousness of the issue of marital discord. There are subplots and then some. A barrage of coincidences follow, that don’t seem to care much for logic or details. It’s the performances and the writing that makes it all palatable. Every once in a while there’s a one liner that makes you guffaw because they are not delivered with self-conscious flourish but with gay abandon. “Aapko original bhi chaiye aur duplicate bhi” says an exasperated Jimmy Shergill to Madhavan at one point.

Some scenes are cinematic jewels. Like the one where Tanu’s father doles out marital advice to his son to the background score of his wife's non-stop cribbing. Also Kusum’s rapid fire Haryanvi monologue when she has her first proper conversation with Manu, which ends with a firm refusal to part with her phone number.

When the audience never mistakes one role for the other, it’s an exceptional triumph for an actor playing a double role. Kangana becomes two people, right from diction, to pitch, to body language and expressions. Tanu’s high-pitched screams are not there in Kusum’s breathless outbursts. Her proud eyes vs Kusum’s confident stare, the way they cry or laugh, even in their gait and their stance, they are completely apart. Minus the face, there are no overlaps between Tanu and Kusum. It’s Kangana’s way of telling Bollywood, that’s how it’s done.

Director Aanand L. Rai shows his mastery in handling the small town north India milieu in every scene. While the story often indulges in flights of fancy, the director keeps a firm grip on his actors. The supporting cast is rock-solid. Swara Bhaskar and Eijaz Khan are exactly the Payal and Jassi you know from the first film, dealing with new issues now. A seamless transition there. Deepak Dobriyal is slightly high-pitched and over-the-top at times, but he has some great lines and the actor charms nonetheless. Madhavan is suitably restrained and sullen, his angst better expressed than his romance. Rajesh Sharma as Kusum’s brother delights as usual. Jimmy’s Raja has calmed down a lot and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub plays Tanu’s annoying admirer cum tenant to perfection. But make no mistake, it’s Kangana’s film through and through.

This review would be incomplete without making a mention about the music composed by Krsna Solo and Tanishk-Vayu. They have churned out some pitch perfect tunes to go with the absolute rigmarole of this very endearing marital mess.

Give this one a watch. Don't leave your brains at home entirely, but don't use them too much either. 

Watch the trailer of the film here: 

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