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Indian filmmaker Anand Rai's critique on the institution of marriage.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns is a 2015 Indian rom-com directed by Anand L. Rai and is the sequel to the 2011 film Tanu Weds Manu, also directed by Rai. Written by Himanshu Sharma, Tanu Weds Manu Returns stars Kangana Ranaut, R. Madhavan, Jimmy Shergill, and Deepak Dobriyal in the pivotal roles. The movie is set four years after the dramatic turn of events of Tanu Weds Manu wherein the seemingly incompatible duo of Manu and Tanu had managed to get hitched, overcoming all odds. Manu and Tanu now find themselves on the brink of separation. As with all things life, the passion has subsided and it's replaced by monotony and solitude. Their marriage seems more like a burden and a formality than a symbol of mutual love and respect. Their decisions are no longer driven by love but by their own egos. And yet, whether they want to believe it or not, all is not lost. And, so, they must both suffer, for although life is a great teacher, alas, it teaches the things the hard way. As a scrutiny of the institution of marriage, Tanu Weds Manu Returns reminds this critic of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors: White (1994) and Kangana Ranaut's performance of a seemingly selfish, inconsiderate wife of Julie Delpy's turn in the very film.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns is the kind of cinema that the Indian masses crave for. It's a formula that just cannot fail in a diverse and colorful country like India. Indians love to celebrate. The dozen or two festivals are just not enough. Festivities are an innate part of our lives. And marriage functions are the grandest of them all. For us, marriage is just not a union of two individuals but it's an alliance of two families. It's an occasion that gets everyone excitedâ"be it the children, the young, or the oldâ"for it is perceived as the greatest celebration of life. In short, the marriages are a singularly viable business. For Bollywood, it's a bankable subject like no other. Some of the biggest commercial hits in the history of Hindi cinema revolved around the theme of marriage. Films such as Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! (1994) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) exploited the Indian sentimentality for the traditions and rituals associated with marriage particularly well. While Tanu Weds Manu was a testament to the efficacy of very fabric of marriage in binding us together, Tanu Weds Manu Returns is a gentle reminder of its fallibility.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns is a non-stop entertainer from start to finish, but, in order to fully enjoy the film, one needs to be credulous enough to believe anything and everything that's on offer. In other words, the viewer must be willing to suspend the disbelief concerning the implausibility of the narrative. Once the viewer makes this compromise, Tanu Weds Manu Returns will prove to be a roller-coaster of a ride. The film certainly shows us the dark side of marriage but it does so without appearing too grim. Marriage is like any other partnership but sometimes the patriarchal mindset can make the male partner behave in a rather chauvinistic manner. Now, that's fine as long as the fairer sex is willing to bend but the modern Indian woman can be every bit as feministic in her ways—it will certainly set the two of them on a collision path. In Tanu Weds Manu Returns, we witness how a free-spirited girl and her pragmatic husband fail to meet each other's expectations. How a lack of mutual understanding and respect takes them on the brink of divorce. How young couples forget that a marriage is never "all take and no give."
Overall, Tanu Weds Manu Returns offers truckloads of entertainment and can be enjoyed by one and all. Its witty dialogues and crude humor immensely add to its entertainment value. The movie offers an undercurrent of social commentary which is quite relevant to the modern Indian society. It's also serves as a critique of the institution of marriage. But, it shouldn't be mistaken for anything more than what it really isâ"a sophisticated example of commercial escapism in cinema. Riding high on the success of Queen (2013), Kangana Ranaut once again carries a film on her able shoulders with her essaying not one but two contrasting albeit powerful caricatures (both of which are a treat to watch). She is well supported by the rest of the cast. There's no denying the fact that Kangana is the most bankable actress in Bollywood today. She is no longer the troubled prodigy she once was and has certainly come of age as an actress par-excellence as far as Hindi cinema is concerned. Tanu Weds Manu Returns has its share of flaws and it relies heavily on time-tested gimmicks but that doesn't stop it from serving its purpose, that of entertaining the masses. Recommended!
(This review was first published at A Potpourri of Vestiges)
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