You’re busy laughing the ROFL way, anticipating more belly laughter inducing scenes coming your way and suddenly the lights turn on at the end of first half of the movie, making you aware of those teary eyed (hansi ke aansoo). You look around, only to find that everyone’s experiencing the same kind of mirth.
The laughter, however, doesn’t stop there, it follows you all through the loo and refreshment counter (the best places to know any film’s impact on the audience), where almost everyone is enacting Deepak Dobriyal, who plays ‘Pappi’ in Anand L. Rai’s latest offering, ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’. Now the question is: When was the last time you experienced such thing while watching a film?
Even the so-called comedy films, too, aren’t funny anymore, and are as insipid and monotonous as Comedy with Kapil. Furthermore, you weren’t even prepared for such fits of laughter in a sequel of a film like Tanu Weds Manu.
This is precisely where director Anand L. Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma win hands down. The duo manage to keep you hooked for two hours and compel you to stay invested in the film’s familiar characters i.e. Tanuja Trivedi (Kangana Ranaut), Manu Sharma (R. Madhavan), Pappi (Deepak Dobriyal), Payal Rathore (Swara Bhaskar) Jassi (Eijaz Khan), Raja Awasthi (Jimmy Shergill), KK Raina (Manu’s father), as well as new characters (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as ‘Kandhha’ or ‘Hero Honda’), Datto ka bhai (Rajesh Sharma) and most importantly, Kusum aka Dattu (It’s perhaps Kangana Ranaut, at least the credits claim so).
Tanu Weds Manu Returns begins on a perfect marriage gone sour note, and later delves into an unpredictable twist of a lookalike, far from the ones we’ve seen in Ram aur Shyam, Hum Dono, Satte Pe Satta, Seeta Aur Geeta, Don, Aakhri Raasta, Chaalbaaz, Aankhein, Judwa, to Om Shanti Om, Kaminey or Humshakals and Action Jackson. There’s no confusion here, no Humshakal style Adla-Badli here, nor Judwa-like ‘ek ko kuch hoye to doosra bhi roye’. Director Anand L. Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma steer clear away from such clichés and treat lookalikes like lookalikes, except for a wedding scene of Jassi’s sister, where Swara Baskar confides in her home truths with Datto, mistaking her for Tanu.
Chirantan Das shoots the film with an eye for detail. The small town look has been beautifully captured, be it a simple rickshaw scene or a song like Move On. Music by Krsna Solo & Tanishk-Vayu blends effortlessly with the film’s narrative, especially the song, ‘Old school girl’, which is clearly an inspiration (not copy, mind you) from Sneha Khanwalkar’s ‘Moora’ in Gangs of Wasseypur-2.
R. Madhavan reprises his role in a downgraded version of Manu. The enthusiastic nice guy from London is now a boring and self-pitying man with grey streaks of hair and double chin. Among all the characters, Manu comes across as a one-note character. There’s no visible transformation in him, even after he falls for a much younger girl. Well, we don’t expect him to dye his hair or build six-pack abs here, but one expects his character to make his presence felt, but is sadly outsmarted by Deepak Dobriyal’s Pappi.
Whenever Pappi’s character appears on screen, you lose interest in Manu and he almost disappears. If this was intentional on the part of writer Himanshu Sharma, he has done a fabulous job and the credit also goes to R. Madhavan to underplay his role to an extent of becoming extinct (pardon the poor phonetic pun). Deepak Dobriyal is hilarious in every frame he appears in, be it his London trip, the speech on heart ailments (the funniest scene of the film) or his Dandia in a Punjabi wedding replete with Kediyus-clad Sardars.
Swara Baskar as ‘Payal’ and Eijaz Khan as ‘Jassi’ make their presence felt despite brief roles and are surely much more than hero/heroine ke dost. ‘Yaar tune same model ki do Mercedes kyu li?’ is a gem of a line that Jassi gets to speak. Rajesh Sharma is a delight to watch in every film he stars and his ‘Love story mein dikkat to hoti hai hai’ scene is sure to leave you in splits. KK Raina as Manu’s father defines marriage in the most practical form.
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Chintu, a forlorn lover of Tanu walks away with some of the best lines of the film. Jimmy Shergill’s character Raja Awasthi, too, comes across as a downgraded version like Manu’s. He could have been a strong element of the film, especially in the climax, but is completely wasted. Nonetheless, you just can’t help pitying this character.
Among the entire talented ensemble of cast, it’s Kangana Ranaut who steals the show. The actress essays two roles with the finesse of a veteran. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, Kangana Ranaut has set new standards of approaching twin roles in our films after Dilip Kumar. She plays Kusum aka Datto to such perfection that as an audience you wonder whether it’s the same actor or a double.
There’s not a single scene where she falters or loses the accent or body language of Datto. After Chak De! India, girls playing Hariyanvi role simply added ‘Bawdi pooch’ to their lines and a twang in their voice, not Kangana. She goes the extra mile to get her body language right, as a student of Delhi University on Sports quota. The mole on her neck seems to appear and disappear in different scenes, which, like the film’s climax, is a minor flaw that you’d happily overlook, given the kind of performance that transpires on screen. To sum it up, Tanu Weds Manu Returns is an entertainment feast. Go, indulge.