The genius of Kangana turns Tanu weds Manu returns into one of the best bolly sequels ever

When Tanu Weds Manu happened four years back, Kangana Ranaut was still struggling to find her feet in the constantly shifting echelons of the Hindi film industry. Gangster was a great debut and Fashion had got her the awards, but she still didn’t know what she wanted to be.

  • Published 23.05.15

When Tanu Weds Manu happened four years back, Kangana Ranaut was still struggling to find her feet in the constantly shifting echelons of the Hindi film industry. Gangster was a great debut and Fashion had got her the awards, but she still didn’t know what she wanted to be. As an industry outsider, there was definitely no hand-holding or “family” guidance.

Tanu Weds Manu was just another shot at mainstream glory alongside a Double Dhamaal and a Rascals and random special appearances in skimpy clothes in big multistarrers. Tanu was a fascinating character for a Bollywood leading lady, the music was great, the ensemble cast delivered and the film was a sleeper hit. 

Today, Kangana has no dream to chase. She is the dream.

Thankfully, director Aanand L. Rai is also aware that Kangana is now the Queen. Tanu Weds Manu Returns, despite being a sequel, is crafted around the genius that is Madame Ranaut. The genius that can actually make lookalikes look, talk and behave like two completely different people. Right from Ashok Kumar in Kismet, the biggest movie stars of India have played twins and doubles, but seldom has the suspension of disbelief been willing enough. 

In her characterisations of Tanu and Datto, Kangana forges the fourth wall with so much solidarity, that the love triangle — with Madhavan’s Manu being the flab, er bone, of contention — works better than it would have with two different actresses. It also makes the sequel many times better than the first film, another rarity in B-town.

Four years after they got married under the most crazy circumstances, Tanu and Manu are clearly bored of each other, so much so that the heated prologue playing out in an asylum near London ends with him being taken in as a mad man. Tanu returns to India and in a very Tamara Drewe situation has every man, new (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub’s Chintu) and old (Jimmy Shergill’s Raja) including the rickshawwallah (Aakash Dahiya), falling for her.

Manu too comes back to India and even as he struggles to come to terms with the impending divorce, bumps into Datto aka Kusum, who is an athlete from Haryana studying in Delhi University. She looks like Tanu and initially that is reason enough for Manu to get drawn towards the much younger tomboyish girl with freckles, a protruding set of front teeth and a pixie haircut. Later the romance blooms but then again Tanu too has second thoughts, leading to a chaotic crescendo involving not just the three of them but all the friends and the family, the suitors and the detractors.

Different in texture than the original, Tanu Weds Manu Returns is written (by Himanshu Sharma) more as a comedy where the romantic bits only surface fully towards the end. The comedy borders on the slapstick but is done so well, not only by Kangana, but the rest of the ensemble cast, especially Deepak Dobriyal as Manu’s friend Pappi, that it’s an absolutely rip-roaring first hour. 

The second half has its troughs, especially the contrived plot points — including an unnecessary Punjab detour —trying to reach a pre-decided ending, punctuated with way too many songs. But by then the film has done enough to not drive away the audiences, even though the denouement may not be that satisfactory for everyone. 

If it’s still not clear, the incredible Kangana Ranaut makes Tanu Weds Manu Returns a must watch. Last year her Rani in Queen was the best of the lot. This year her Datto will be difficult to beat. Even her Tanu is gold, but watching the new girl with that impeccable Haryanvi accent and her big city aspirations stemming from the eyes is sheer delight.

Had any other actress played the role of the other woman, the film would have come across as a forced second part trying to cash in on the success of Tanu Weds Manu. But Kangana single-handedly, er double-roledly, has turned Tanu Weds Manu Returns into one of the best Bolly sequels of all time. The wait begins today... for a third part... with three Kanganas.

Pratim D. Gupta
Is Kangana the best actress among leading ladies in Bollywood today?