Updated: May 21, 2015 3:16:33 pm
Aanand L Rai’s ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, that released in 2011, ends with its lead characters played by Kangana Ranaut and R Madhavan getting hitched. Typically, a marriage at the climax brings the curtains down on a Hindi film, suggesting that the lead pair live happily ever after.
But that wasn’t the case here, believed the filmmaker. He kept wondering what happens to the shy and reserved Manu (Madhavan) and the audacious Tanu (Ranaut) once they get married and settle in London? The trailers of Tanu Weds Manu Returns, a film that was a result of the box-office success of the first one, show that four years since marriage, there is trouble in marital paradise. Tanu complains about her husband’s weight. Manu, meanwhile, starts showing interest in another woman.
According to Rai, what fascinated him about these characters was that they are flawed. “What will happen if the characters are flawless? It will get boring. We are humans and are bound to have flaws. The imperfections are another form of getting onto interesting relationships. The equation between a husband and wife, for instance, will change over the course of their lives. Forget four years, we change so much in just one year,” says the director, seated at his Andheri office.
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Between ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ and its sequel, Rai made the Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor-starrer ‘Raanjhanaa’, one of the biggest hits of 2013. The film marked an evolution for the filmmaker, which he confesses he has chanelled into the the sequel. “’Raanjhanaa’ took me on that trip of unrequited love and death, something I didn’t know how to deal with in real life till I made the film,” he says.
In his last three films — his first ‘Thoda Life Thoda Magic’ failed to grab much attention — Rai has shown his propensity to tell stories soaked in the atmospherics of small town India, be it Kanpur in ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ or Varanasi in Raanjhana. The engineer-turned-filmmaker says although he was born in Delhi, he has an inherent fascination with small cities. “Somehow, in their bylanes and in its people I find soul as well as realism,” he says.
‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’ has all the trappings of a scaled-up, family entertainer: it has Kangana Ranaut in a double role. But the filmmaker assures that within these broad strokes, there are finer things at play. The other woman who Manu falls for is a lookalike of Tanu. The filmmaker uses her as a symbol of falling in love with the wife all over again. “It’s like a love triangle without a triangle, a love story that doesn’t look like an extra-marital affair,” he says.
Another aspect of Rai’s cinema is his use of music — he describes AR Rahman as his invisible screenwriter for Raanjhanaa. ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’, like Rai’s other films, gives music, composed by Krsna Solo, an important role to play. “I can be proud of the fact that you can’t take out one song from my film and watch it. If you do that, you are missing a part of the story,” says the filmmaker.
This article appeared in print with the headline “From Kanpur, with Love”
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