In a loaded scene in ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’ when Tanu comes to know that her Manu has fallen for another woman and harbours plans to marry again, she confronts her husband in a gathering and with full Tanu attitude says, “Hum thode se bewafa kya hue, Sharma ji! Aap toh badchalan ho gaye.” If I am not mistaken this is the first time in the history of Hindi films when the word ‘badchalan’ is used for a man. And a woman says it to him.
This makes Tanu Weds Manu Returns a film for this season.
It’s all about the girl. In this case, two girls. Kangana Ranaut as Tanu clashes with Kangana Ranaut as Datto to learn some important life lessons. While Tanu is trying to rediscover where she lost herself, Datto is trying to find herself. Tanu has seen the side effects of ‘aashiqui’ and marriage, Datto meanwhile is ready to take the high jump to find out what this ‘aashiqui’ is all about. The man that they clash over is irrelevant. For all my school girl crush on Maddy of the twinkling eyes and those ‘Zara Zara’ days, Manu is a passive hero. That’s how he was in the first film and that’s how he is in the sequel when he does absolutely nothing to either win or lose his wife.
It’s all about the girls. They drive the film with their choices, decisions, impulses and confrontations. Tanu shamelessly decides to become a ‘Ghani Bawri’ and dares herself as well as her husband to take those seven circles with the other woman. Datto drives the climax and practically pushes Manu to mumble what’s in his heart. Instead of Manu, it could have been a teddy bear the girls were vying for and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Because like its predecessor the sequel too is not a love story of Tanu and Manu rather it is the story of the girl. If the first film was Tanu’s love story then this is Tanu and Datto’s love story.
The writer director team of Himanshu Sharma and Aanand L Rai clearly envisages their Tanu as the hero (or should it be shero!!) of the film. She is the ‘Batman’ of her ‘mohalla’ famous for her legendary escapades. Tanu even gets her own gender bending ‘Devdas’ moment. In a beautifully executed moment in the film, Tanu is seen roaming the streets with a whisky glass in hand as the magnificent Geeta Dutt sings ‘Jaa Jaa Jaa Bewafa’ in the background. After a long time, we get a film moment when a drunk heroine doesn’t land up on the bar top singing aloud ‘talli main talli ho gayi’. There is dignity in Tanu’s pain. The sequence that follows the song is equally powerful. The drunk Tanu lands up in front of her husband in a pixie wig trying too hard to look like Datto, and lays her pride down to ask him almost plaintively if he misses her only to get a rude shock. Something about this sequence reminded me of the iconic Choti Bahu’s ‘Na Jao Saiyan’ moment from Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Or maybe it’s just Geeta Dutt who jogged that memory for me.
Even as Tanu gets in the 21st century Meena Kumari mode for a bit, Datto appears fully in charge of the tricky ways of modern love. This State level athlete from Haryana handles her heartbreak with dignity, cries alone in a corner but then comes back to fill her plate with food. She clearly got the memo: Carbs over Men, any day. You know she will be alright, because she has the sexy desi swagger and the spirit of a sportsperson to be back on track, literally and figuratively.
I’m still clueless about Manu. The girls will be okay but I still don’t know about him. But I’m not too worried since he is just the observer anyways in the life of his Tanu so she’ll sort him out. What I hope is that we get to see Tanu Meets Datto Again. I’ve a feeling they will bond quite well. Maybe they can take a trip with Rani of Queen. Now if these three girls get together they can rule the world. And if that doesn’t happen we still have our Kangana.