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A Star is born !
May 24, 2015 08:25 AM 5252 Views
(Updated May 24, 2015 09:07 AM)

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Tanu weds Manu Returns - Movie review


WARNING: SPOILERS GALORE


There is an interesting banter between the characters of the lawyer Chintu( played by the very talented Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, last seen in an impressive outing in Rai's earlier Ranjhanaa) and Tanu's ex lover Raja Awasthi( Jimmy Shergill reprising and again shining in a nice cameo) where Chintu's character calls himself a'kandha' and then goes on to explain what the word means while, quite shamelessly one felt, objectifying Tanu . And this scene in many ways is what Tanu weds Manu Returns is all about. The story of this small minded, hypocritical and regressive society that we hate to admit we are all a part of. Of a mad, feisty girl who dares to raise a big middle finger to all of us. And don't we all love her for that?


Like in Rai's previous films(remember Varanasi from Ranjhanaa), there is a certain' Modus Operandi' here as well. For example, the place where all of the action unfolds is in itself like a vivacious, colorful character that adds another dimension to the ongoing drama. From the DTC buses of Delhi to the quaint' chaat-samosa-chai' shops; from the obscenely decorated marriage halls to the delightful dialect spoken, they are all for lack of a more appropriate word, typical. In particular I must mention the howlarious scenes(and there are many such) where Manu asks his' hanuman'(that is how Tanu addresses Manu's loyal sidekick, Pappi) the meaning of some Hindi word colloquially unique to Kanpur. Then, there is this gem of a scene where Manu's mother keeps nagging them which will bring the house down.


Yet there is so much in this sequel which just did not work for me. Right off, the whole mental asylum thing seemed straight out of a Sajid Khan film and downright silly. That Kangana hams it up( one of the rare times she gets it wrong) does not help any. And though the writer, Himanshu Sharma gets it right for most parts, there are some sticking points. For example, the film jumps location ever so frequently, especially in the second half between Kanpur, Delhi, Chandigarh and another place called Jhajjar( small town in the state of Haryana) that after a point I just stopped keeping track and threw my hands up in exasperation. Then there is this axe I have to grind with how tamely the whole Pappi( Deepak Dobriyal in a scene stealing performance) love affair ended. I mean after all that brilliant buildup right up till the kidnap scene.


Then in the climax at the most vital moment, the character of Kusum's brother(played by Rajesh Sharma who is frankly wasted in a half baked role) goes completely missing. Just a few scenes before, he is seen saving Manu & Pappi from being burnt alive(another hard-to-digest scene) so his absence does stick out. Even Manu's character comes across as nothing more than a first rate, spineless wimp. And with the exception of the two roles played by Kangana, no other character is well rounded off. But, but what a glorious exception these two ladies are. Be it as the' teekhi mirch' Tanuja Trivedi where she is absolutely iconic or as the demure desi Kusum where she actually matches her bete noire Tanu, Kangana is so mesmerizing that you gladly ignore every glitch and end up loving her. All over again. Like Manu.


This is where the writer-director duo of Sharma & Rai get it so right. Clocking at just over two hours( Thank heavens) the pacing of the screenplay is furious and the editing is breathless too(credited to Hemal Kothari) Yet, the real masterstroke is in the structuring where both the Tanu and Kusum tracks play out parallel to each other nicely building up to a riveting climax. Another nice ploy used in the writing is the ambiguity around the lookalike of Tanu. Is Tanu in disguise to teach her hubby a lesson or is it really someone who actually looks strikingly like her? By keeping this card close to his chest, Rai keeps the audience on tenterhooks till almost the end.


Krsna Solo, the Bengali musician who got his break in the original of this sequel does a swell job again. With the exception of the downright weird English song'Old School Girl' every other song takes the movie to new highs. Special shout out to the' Banno' and the' Ghani Bawri' songs in which Kangana's uninhibited acting and dancing are itself worth the price of a movie ticket. Among the supporting cast, Swara Bhaskar has her moments, however little they are. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub tries hard but his character just did not work for me and the role probably could have been edited out of the film. Jimmy Shergill is endearing as the twice jilted lover who beneath that tough demeanor is really quite a softie.


Whenever Tanu weds Manu Returns plays on TV,  the main reason for repeat viewings is going to be undoubtedly the character of Pappi.That is how incredibly good Deepak Dobriyal is. In scene after rip roaring scene, his timing is divine.


Last week an English action film(Mad Max - Fury Road) gave the world of cinema an iconic female protagonist in the form of Imperator Furiosa. Nearer home, this week Bollywood sees the emphatic return of the prodigal Tanu. Kangana has herself gone on record to say that this is her best. While the verdict on that is still out( I feel her Queen performance was quite special) this is easily the most' phaadoo' in a long time. Watch Tanu walk away wistfully after dancing her heart out in some unknown person's marriage or the one where the usually subdued Kusum gives a verbal lashing to a speechless Tanu. My favorite moment has to be right at the end when a drunk Tanu wanders the deserted streets in the middle of the night with a drink in her hand. Yes! A star is born!


P.S. I predict this will be the first female centric flick in Bollywood to make 100 crores!


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