I totally missed the boat on Tanu Weds Manu on the big screen but did catch it on DVD which may be why I am rather fond of Tanu’s character. Tanu Weds Manu Returns (TWMR) picks up from where the original left off and whilst there are some silly moments, as soon as sassy Tanu comes on screen unleashing those street smarts and that lightning wit, I knew the journey would be an entertaining one. Whilst I was a little apprehensive at the first 20 minutes, once Tanu arrives in India, the film finds its footing and zooms ahead without stopping for anyone.
What I like about Rai’s cinema is that his vision is always frayed around the edges – whilst it might appear everything is tied up nicely on the surface, underneath is a different story, with lots more questions being raised instead of answered; is Tanu really fighting for her marriage or is she being selfish and fighting to not lose face to Manu? Is Manu’s pursuit of Kusum entirely innocent or is there more to Manu which we don’t see? We also see Pappi stalking his desired girl which has darker undertones (as it is unrequited yet Pappi will not accept no for an answer) – however, Rai does not judge his characters and entrusts that act to his audience which, in my opinion, is a sign of confidence in the premise.
Ranut gives a powerhouse performance in a double role, making Tanu a firecracker with a softer side and shows Kusum as strong and determined – so much so, that when the two characters are in the same frame, we do not feel they are being played by the same person (the key to nailing such a role). Madhavan is likeable but I felt he got lost in the ensemble. Instead, Shergill, Bhaskar and Ayyub give stellar accounts of themselves whilst Dobriyal nearly steals every scene he is in as the manic sycophant Pappi.
TWMR does everything a sequel should – it is bigger in scale, expands on the first and brings the concept to a wider audience. At the same time, the film manages to retain some of the essence of the first installment which is harder to get right than it appears. This is exactly the kind of entertainer that Hindi cinema needs more of, where the comedy has emotion behind it and the script does not underestimate its viewers’ intelligence but instead values it and makes the best of it. Great fun, this is worth a watch.