Starting from wedding graphics in the opening scene, Tanu Weds Manu Returns (TWMR) ticks almost all boxes – thoughtful, family entertainer, laugh riot to bring relief to the sweating middle class or stressed elite and celebrating the diversity, colours, vibrancy and small town flavours of India. All of which puts it in the must watch category despite a weak second half, cliches and excesses at times (mental hospital).
1) Better than Original: Seldom do sequels outmatch the original. Lage Raho Munnabhai immediately comes to mind as one which outdid its original – possibly the greatest tribute given to Gandhiji’s principles in guise of a laugh riot. The original of Aanand L Rai’s flick, TWM, was just about above average but struck chord with the audiences. Cashing in on that brand and the Kangana wave ensured a superior product.
2) Women Empowerment: TWMR is a tribute to women empowerment. If marriage isn’t giving the excitement, it’s worth leaving the comfort of London shores and returning to bubbling streets of Kanpur. Often we overrate love and end up marrying on impulse. With time, companionship and ability to complement, gets tested, and most end up living in prisons of compromise, materialistic comforts and societal pressures.
3) “You just need to break the monotony, let there be light, let there be life.” It’s chance that the role(s) in TWMR went to Kangana Ranaut by default (she played Tanu in the original). It’s apt that the Queen of Bollywood deserved it most. Kangana’s rapid rise as one woman army evokes jaw dropping awe. The brilliant Mahesh Bhatt find of Gangster and Woh Lamhe now bats for women empowerment in most movies. She is so convincing and on the face that you cannot help but seeing the movie through her vision, falling and feeling for her. Two times over.
4) Kangana is Amitabh Bachchan of the 2010s In Queen her drunken antics paralleled Amitabh Bachchan’s similar acts of the 80s. In TWMR, watch when she stops her dance amidst random street guys and struts out or when she turns around to abuse a group of people at a restaurant, you are again and again reminded of Big B.
Her characters ooze street-smart confidence every time – asking one lover to drop her to a movie to watch with another lover, or when she cuts off a relationship lest it becomes a barrier for girls to come out of Jhajjhar. Watch her display range of emotions when she receives a threat letter from her husband and instantly hires a lawyer. Young girl audiences better be taking notes!
The movie also speaks up for artificial insemination, love ahead of property in Surat and for girl pride across the districts of Haryana.
5) Madhavan’s silence speaks volumes: Madhavan is unable to speak his mind most of the movie. Here’s a rare actor who willingly plays second fiddle to women centric movies and still manages to stand his ground. It’s unfortunate that his recent Bollywood career is an ensemble of shining bit roles (TWM, 3idiots, 13B) despite being a massively respected figure in Tamil cinema. Watch out how he jumps to hug Jassi – you want every close friend run up and hug you like that.
6) Supreme support cast: Complementing the lead are superfine scene stealers like Deepak Dobriyal & Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub – both present in my list of 20 actors I love to see more and more onscreen. Both alternate as livewires and it’s a pity that there is no face off between them. Jimmy Shergill’s royal look but helpless state acts continue & Rajesh Sharma’s even playing with a doll gives the giggles.
Rating: 3.75/5 (Averaged with friends). Must watch, if possible with a bottle of DeePaul’s cold Coffee (makes a fleeting appearance when scene moves to Connaught Place, Delhi)
Box Office Prediction: Singapore Sunday noon show had 100% occupancy with people roaring their guts out. This one deserves to be in the “100 crore club” despite its second half predictability and flaws. It will, just about.