Tanu Weds Manu Returns: Laugh Riot

It's been a while I've been listening to rave reviews of Tanu weds Manu Returns on what a fun roller coaster it promises,  kudos to the writer's awesome one liners. So the movie is great guys. If you are here for a quick movie review go run, watch it or stay with me for an alternative analysis to those who find it regressive.


What shocks me is how do people expect feminism in it? Or a modern India movement? Art certainly decides and influences the society and the world at large on lifestyle choices and morals. Let's see what's told as art here and how.

TANU'S CHARACTERIZATION:


For starters, no one ever said the character is flawless!

In fact a mature audience completely understands that the character Tanu is not what Kangana was in Queen!
Tanu weds Manu Returns shows her as the BAD GIRL. Despite the clearly black shades in her character it is really sad that we are overlooking the small and beautiful white scenes.

Is Tanu modern? Is she representing the modern Indian woman? Is alcohol or cigarettes a symbol of liberation for women in Indian cinema today?

No.

But isn't a man buying alcohol of his woman's money and drinking, accepted every single day in more than 50% of India in villages and city slums? It is disgustingly  sad as addiction leads to violence and indiscretion and what not.
But we are at a lighthearted and objective analysis.

I feel rather than being so judgemental,  it is time we looked with a different perspective. Cinema has matured today to not expect only a completely ideal character hero to be always loved. A girl or rather an individual can be loved despite flaws. Again,  no one in the movie is asking you to become like Tanu. In fact in the end when she comes to repent,  she is not debasing herself or crying to show THAT as the only means to get the man to do what she wants. She is doing and feeling what her husband had felt while she was getting married to someone else in the earlier movie.

Also, answering the entire rant about the wife first spending her father's money and then her husband's I'd like to ask have we in the name of being progressive  and respecting women become averse to a woman choosing not to work? Are we discounting household work of cooking and laundry? Are we demeaning housewives? Why has this culture swept in the cosmopolitan Indian man who won't exactly take dowry but would love to in the name of equality and being modern not provide for his wife? Why does a man expect a girl who leaves her entire family to also completely support herself and also him to some extent? Just because he's thee man? Isn't this the same in principle with dowry to get your own utensils, clothes jewellery, furniture whatever it takes to make the bride survive. As if the parents are doing any less by giving their daughter that they also have to ensure she is bringing money (earlier from parents' house and now by herself).

But this ain't a completely Indian phenomenon. Many women don't work. Though they should be free to work if they want to, they should not be FORCED to work.

The grey shades are very much a trend in stories because finally we have graduated the closest to reality. Real characters are more believable.
Tanu here is easily bored and 4 years in an unknown place, with her husband not able to give her time and with nothing much to do she was at her crankiest best. We are completely discounting here that someone who hadn't lifted a glass in her life was cooking and doing his laundry. Also it is liberating to see a middle class family pampering a girl like that. I don't agree she has no hobbies. Shopping, being stylish and partying are probably her hobbies. If we can be accepting of Shopaholic series and even characters like Rachel in F.R.I.E.N.D.S or her sister who shows up after buying a boat for a friend, why are we so antagonistic for a character that drinks and enjoys partying?

She never put Manu to Asylum. Manu's reactions in front of therapists made him end up there. In a lost in life situation, she flirted and re-looked at her life. But she always knew she loved him.

In marriage, a little time apart can be good when you are always with just one person and no friends at all. She was probably coming to India after 4 years. She was concerned on how he would come out of the Asylum and was going to say sorry but the notice brought in her ego to the picture. In no way am I justifying her. But that was just that. A flawed person who knows she has a temper, is sensitive,  vulnerable, pretends to be extremely strong outside, constantly seeks validation, acts on an impulse and over analyzes.


THE GOOD IN TANU:

Being the rebel that she is,  she managed to pull off a first ever stunt in contemporary cinema of overlooking traditional Indian status quo and hugging a Rickshaw wala as her friend!

The way they packed these little bits and pieces in midst of a laugh riot of ridiculous circumstantial humour is what makes this so funny. She later goes and gives him and his wife money,  sits with them and is not judged for it. Her character was necessary to be a little unrealistic and a bad girl hero to be able to get off with it. I seriously doubt this can ever be possible in real life. Try saying a watchman is your friend. You are dead,  girl!

The towel was just outrageous enough to make you listen. Probably to draw attention to what she was saying. Her sister deserved more than the groom sitting there. Also, the sister being ok with such a man speaks how ready are women to compromise in an arranged marriage underestimating their own worth. Also,  being an Indian woman it is shocking to see the right with which she still enjoys her princess hood at her parents' place although she has left her husband. If parents are kind and welcoming despite a society for daughters to come back home if they are not happy, that to me is progressive.

If Tanu could get the man who wasn't paying rent to her dad since last 6 months, to do errands and be a chauffeur at least she was using his services in some manner. Talking of being ideally progressive,  I wonder how watching a movie with an ex flame or having a lunch is seen as cheating? Men can go and cheat. Her husband can go ahead to marry another woman without a divorce and she's considered bad just because she flirted a little?

The second half of the movie portrays a never die spirit that is not ready to give up till the last chance where she is not forcing but wishing that the love her husband had for her is still alive.

Commitment is not lack of options but having options and choosing to be with the one you love.

Tanu had truly realized Manu was the love of her life and even Manu was admiring Datto and just feeling a difference in her presence when he was the loneliest. After he met Tanu again,  he was sure he wanted her but ego, sulking and also commitment to Datto where he couldn't ditch her made him go ahead with the ceremonies.

It is OK for the girl to love the bad guy but not for the man to love the bad girl. Why?
It is OK for an Akshay Kumar to run behind Katrina in Namastey London but not for a Tanu for Manu? How truly intricate and worthy was Katrina's character?
Love happens. Sometimes you just feel that connection despite irritating characteristics of that person. You are never going to love everything about the one you love. That's reality. In fact for Manu to secretly want Tanu showed that he wanted her not just for her face or body. There was true love and true fights over the silliest of matters and that's what it's going to be. It's never a happily lived ever after.

DATTO IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THE SAME FACE

The character Datto is marvellous in every sense. Manu did not fall for Tanu for just her face nor did he fall for Datto for the same face.

Datto is violent but she does not use more brawn than brain. She hits Manu and Pappi because they were evidently following them everywhere. She had no idea to know there could be a curiosity as looking exactly like his wife.

She is a raw,  pure,  adrenalin rush. She jumps in to help Pappi, unaware that the girl is happy with the guy her brother has chosen and has never expressed her love for Pappi. This is the most ironical and hilarious moment. Her trying to convince the girl comes from her being young and immature and also sincere at a 'try till you can' spirit. I feel till the end Datto or Manu are completely unaware that Pappi was just mistaking a girl talking and smiling as love. Isn't that a message? In utter ridicule,  they manage to show how extreme can men get in assuming they have all control over a woman's life just because she talked to you on whatsapp like a hi hello friend?
Isn't this denial speaking of the modern woman clearly taking a stand that she has a right to decide and can say when she loves someone! You no longer have to figure out from blushing!

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION
If the husband cannot help her conceive and they couldn't adopt a child and she did go ahead and have their child,  she still did not sleep with anyone! Yet she keeps saying she cheated. Why is doing that without his permission such a big deal? If he can never be a father,  the child can never be his. It either would be of two separate parents or at least of his wife. She chose artificial insemination. Why does the profound love for the child and the wife suddenly change while he forgave his best friend and his gang to kidnap his sister from her own wedding!!
While we had graduated to accepting and applauding Vicky Donor and sperm donation,  what suddenly went wrong with us?

Manu's character is extremely mature and also very restrained. He likes being righteous despite what his heart feels. All characteristics that he was drawn to Datto for are clearly expressed in the confrontation of Tanu and Datto.

When Tanu mocks at Manu to have chosen a better replacement,  here is Datto giving it in your face that she is ambitious,  is able to get her own scholarship, is studying in Delhi University and also knows how to take care of relationships. This is the movie's attempt to give the true message that this is what one should be. However, Tanu does touch your heart when she says that she was always a spoilt brat. She never changed after marriage. Manu had married her and loved her with all of that. True love is unconditional and accepts your flaws. And from there we see the true change in Tanu's character giving up her ego and doing whatever it takes to repent.

But this in itself is also a liberation.
A spoilt brat being a boy is usual. Also,  we may accept if it's a rich family,  (Pooh from Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gam) but Tanu was from middle class. The mere fact that a girl could be allowed to do whatever she wanted and behave however she wanted in India (most dangerous country in the world in which to be a girl’- A controversial United Nations finding based on a range of distressing social statistics)  is a bold and shocking thing in your face. In a country where educated men and women kill girls,  it is an achievement to be allowed to be like a boy (even if spoilt).

WHY MISINTERPRETE THE END? 


While Datto is a more deserving candidate, she loses to Tanu not because the bad ass girl has to win but because there's so much Datto has to do before she's married. She's very young! And I loved the ending that did not forcibly married off Jimmy Shergil just for a happy ending. They are shown talking and this might be a beginning of a friendship where he would also see her personality and see her more than just a look alike of Tanu.

I do not agree that drinking indiscriminately or smoking gives any liberation to a woman.
Anushka certainly didn't NEED to smoke a cigarette in NH10 before the last scene to look liberated. Smoking does not liberate any woman or man.

Tanu roaming in the street drunk as she was,  she was not being a DevDas. Let's not forget that she had not sent the divorce. DevDas was a loser because he himself ruined his life by saying no to the love of his life when she needed the decision of the hour. She stopping at the astrologer giving into vulnerability and superstitions and taking the decision to be like the righteous girl Datto (who was not flawless) ,  who had unkempt hair and big teeth,  she went on to take the better route to deal with pain and hope and actually talked to her husband.

Just about every character in the story is flawed. Pappi Singh was the best! A lot of people I've talked to fell in love with the performance and the character. He was the biggest highlight and probably the second in line after Kangana as Datto. Insanely dumb yet wise!
Manu's parents are adorable as the forever fighting couple but if you look closely there's anger,  frustration but not bitterness.

We don't have a Parvati bhabhi or Tulsi badi ma. I guess we had grown beyond those Ekta Kapoor serials. A mainstream cinema with a lead as a bad girl is OK. Just a different slice of life.

This film does not have a very strong social message but it's not pure commercial masala either. If we have lived through movies like Jai Ho, Tees Maar Khan,  Happy New Year in today's times why are we so judgemental of a simple bollywood film? If we could accept a complete loser with no purpose in life, no integrity or courage and one who does waste his Dad's and then his mistress' money as the hero (not once but several times) why are we so cynical of Tanu? Just because she's a girl?

What did you think?

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