If you are no fan of the 2011 romantic drama ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ (just like this writer isn’t) you are probably apprehensive about stepping into the theatre to watch ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’, its sequel. ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ had some sincere performances with an authentic small town setting but the film suffered from a dull and clichéd storyline. There was no meat in the screenplay and it offered nothing that one had not seen earlier. Four years after the film released, director Aanand L Rai is back with its sequel. Apart from lead actors Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut, the film features a few actors who were part of the first part and some new entrants as well.
The film begins with viewers being shown a wedding video of Tanuja/Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) Manoj/Manu (R. Madhavan). In the next sequence, we see the couple standing in front of a mental rehabilitation centre in London. The two of them complain about each others behaviour to psychiatrists and tell them why they don’t like each other anymore. Clearly, there is no love left between the couple after the marriage. Tanu moves back to India leaving Manu admitted in the rehabilitation. She informs Pappi (Deepak Dobriyal) about this incident and asks him to go to London to get Manu out of the asylum. After getting Manu out of the asylum, both of them head towards India. Manu sends a divorce notice to Tanu. The latter is left shaken by Manu’s decision but she decides to face life heads on and enjoy it to the fullest. She meets her old flame Raja Awasthi (Jimmy Sheirgill) and realises that he will get married soon. Tanu is upset to know that as she thought that even after four years Raja would be waiting for her. Meanwhile, Manu meets Kusum aka Datto, a state-level athlete from Haryana, who bears a striking resemblance to Tanu. After spending some time with Datto, Manu falls in love with her. Datto reciprocates his feelings and both of them decide to get married.
The biggest strength of the film is its screenplay and the real hero, of course, is writer Himanshu Sharma. The film does not offer a single dull moment. You feel deeply engrossed in the film just a few minutes after its start and it manages to hold your attention till the end. Unlike the first part in which the characters were far from being memorable, the second half gives almost every actor in the film a memorable line or scene. You get to know the characters that you had seen in the first part a little better and you war up to the fledglings as well. You watch the film with rapt attention trying to figure out as to how the film is going to unfold. Even though the film is predictable in parts, one does not mind as the watertight screenplay and highly amusing dialogues keep one entertained.
As Tanu and Manu stay apart from each other throughout most of the film, the focus shifts to the love story between Manu and Datto. While one gets to see them sharing many warm moments together, you get the feeling that the track could have been more elaborately shown. The second half, just like the first half, is very engaging. But, there are times when it seems a bit stretched. Tanu is shown to be pining for Manu and requesting him not to walk out of the marriage. Her pain and sorrow does not come across as justified. The writer could have written a few scenes that could have justified her breakdown better. The climax, though very good, rides on Datto and there could have been some more focus on Tanu and Manu.
Aanand L Rai does complete justice to the terrific written material by Himanshu Sharma. Most importantly, he makes sure that the sequel turns out to be better than the prequel and does not have the deficiencies that the original had. Himanshu Sharma, as stated earlier, is the real hero of the film as it is his script (story, screenplay and dialogues) that towers above everything else in the film. The story and screenplay make for an entertaining film and the dialogue consist of some the best lines one has heard in recent times. The songs (Krsna and Tanishk-Vayu) are tuneful and have been placed well. Some of the songs are not heard in their entirety but no complaints there as they suit the situation and do not overstay their welcome. The background score (Krsna) is uplifting. Chirantan Das’s camerawork captures the colourful palette of the film very well. The production design (Wasiq Khan) is nice. The editing (Hemal Kothari) could have been slightly tighter in the second half.
Kangana Ranaut plays a double role and she does complete justice to both the characters. What’s remarkable is that she makes the two characters stand apart as to completely different individuals. R. Madhavan carries forward his character from the first part and does well. He is immensely likeable. There is a rise in the character graph of the character played by Jimmy Sheirgill from the first half and the actor delivers a solid performance as Raja Awasthi. Deepak Dobriyal gets some of the best lines to mouth and some well written scenes to show his prowess as an actor. He is terrific. Swara Bhaskar and Eijaz Khan get lesser scope than they got in the first half. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub gets a good but inconsistent character to play. His performance is good. Rajesh Sharma is good but he seems to getting stereotyped in similar roles. Rajendra Gupta, Navni Parihar, Aakash Dahiya and Manu Rishi leave a mark in small roles.
Director Aanand L Rai, yet again, captures the essence of the smaller towns in India beautifully and takes giant strides as a filmmaker. This, without a shred of doubt, is his best film so far. Tanu Weds Manu Returns is miles ahead of its prequel and outshines it in every department. A wholesome entertainer that also tugs at your heartstrings, ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’ is not to be missed.
Anish Mohanty tweets @anishmohanty