Tanu Weds Manu franchise: Something truly audacious about Tanuja Trivedi

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 29, 2015 17:12 IST

Had a blast while watching the Kangana Ranaut, R Madhavan-starrer Tanu Weds Manu Returns? We assume yes. You'll agree there's something very endearing in the ecentric Tanu. Aanand L Rai has given us enough reasons to smile. But what's so special about the film? It's a romance set in an Indian wedding millieu. We've been there before. Strong female lead -- Kangana Ranaut and Vidya Balan have been doing it for a while. But the manner in which Aanand serves it all is another story in itself.

So here are a few features from the Tanu Weds Manu franchise, which you may have seen before, but will totally take you by surprise with this series.


A still from Tanu Weds Manu Returns

1) Uttar Pradesh is actually quite charming

For the longest time, Uttar Pradesh has been associated with violence and lawlessness -- from caste wars and Hindu-Muslim riots to kidnappings and electoral misconduct. Naturally when the stories from the land came to the big screen, they were gritty tales of violence. Think Ishaqzaade, Bullett Raja, Katiyabaaz, Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster, Omkara and Haasil.


Tanu Weds Manu franchise shows the softer side of Uttar Pradesh. Yes, films like Ishqiya and Dedh Ishqiya, thrillers with ample romance, were also set in the state. However, Aanand was the director who brought to life the romance of daily urban life, bereft of violence.

Tanu Weds Manu brought Kanpur and Lucknow into our lives, but in a total different light. When love is in the air, just about everything seems nice.

2) Woman, the main pivot of romance


Kangana Ranaut rocks as Tanu and Datto in TWMR.

Historically, female actors score big in romances. In recent times, there have been many romantic films where the female lead dominates the show. Think of films such as Chennai Express, 2 States, Ram Leela and Student of the Year for instance. But no female character captures the imagination the way Kangana Ranaut’s Tanuja Trivedi does – crazy, audacious, warm, iconoclastic and rebellious. Basically, she creates a storm wherever she goes. In short, she is the centre of the Tanu Weds Manu narrative, rendering everything secondary. In the second part too, Kangana bowls us over with her Datto act.

3) Aanand L Rai’s romance with small-town India


Kangana Ranaut in a scene from Tanu Weds Manu Returns.

In recent times, there have been films set in small-town India such as Dum Laga Ke Haisha (Haridwar), Shuddh Desi Romance (Jaipur), Ram Leela (Udaipur), Gangs of Wasseypur (Dhanbad) while others like Love Aaj Kal and Dilli 6 criss-cross between the big city and a small town.

But nobody brings out the flavours of small-town India with as much alacrity as Aanand. For him, these places acquire a character of their own. It is not simply a set, but a character in itself.

Think an Aanand L Rai film and the galis and kucchas of India came into our lives again. The dusty bylanes with their open drains, the electric wires hanging dangerously close, the blind fakir walking the streets, the rickshawallers and cyclewallas, the panwari ki dukaan, the honking minibus, songs blaring from the neighbourhood cassette ki dukaan, the bull sprawled in the centre of a 7-foot gali, the joint family with bickering aunts and arguing brothers – all so familiar scenes of middle class, small-town India come rushing into our lives.

4) A support cast that shines as brightly as the main stars


(From L to R) Zeeshan Ayyub, Jimmy Shergill, Swara Bhaskar and Deepak Dobriyal.

The mark of a good writer is how well he/she develops the support cast in a narrative. This is truer in the case of romances where the lead pair tends to hog the limelight with most scenes written for them and songs that chiefly feature them.

If the support cast isn’t strong enough, there will always the fear of the narrative being reduced to a mere Mills and Boons fare onscreen.

All good romances in 2014, for instance, took care not to fall in that trap -- 2 States, Finding Fanny, Highway and Queen for instance. But Aanand infuses a whole new dimension to his support characters.

This holds true of the first part of the franchise more than the latter. Aanand and his writer Himanshu Sharma deserve full marks for giving us wonderfully fleshed-out support cast – Deepak Dobriyal’s Pappi is superbly cast as Manu Sharma’s best buddy and has some of the choicest of lines; Payal, Tanu’s no-nonsense yet buddy-in-crime, is a perfect foil to ‘out of control’ Tanu. Raja Awasthi as the ‘adiyal’ UP wala local goon-in-parts, businessman-lover-of-Tanu-in-parts is a joy to behold. New character in TWMR, Arun Kumar Singh, the lawyer too, makes the story engaging. Jassi, Tanu and Manu’s fathers, Manu Sharma’s mother – all help push the narrative further.

5) Haryanvi and so many Hindis

For a non-Hindi speaking naturalised Delhiite, over the years, this has come been a revelation. One had heard the saying: Every 10 kms in India, the language changes. Ahh, and yes, the dialects. In recent times, one has heard so many Hindis in cinema that it’s not funny – Dum Laga ke Haisha (Khadi Boli), Piku (Hindi as Bengalis speak), Chennai Express (Tamil-influenced Hindi), Haider (Urdu with a heavy dose of Kashmiri influence), Highway (Gujjar dialect of Haryana), Pan Singh Tomar (Bundelkhandi)… and now, of course, Datto’s Haryanvi.

6) Of dialogues, wit and humour

Dialogues have always been central to Hindi films. Recall Dabangg’s famous line: Thappad se darr nahi lagta sahib, pyar se lagta hai. Think of how it went viral. Take Salman Khan in Wanted: Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, uss ke baad toh main apne aap ki bhi nahi sunta.

The most noticeable bit about Tanu Weds Manu Returns are its killer dialogues and its interlacing humour – Tanu (Halat dekhi hai apni, adrak ho gaya hai, kaheen se bhi badh raha hai), Manu Sharma (Haan, toh shaadi se pehle main Hrithik Roshan tha kya), Raja Awasthi (Saale, original wali bhi rakhe aur duplicate bhi?), Tanu (Chaliye, hamari kahani ke Raavan se milwaate hain), Arun Kumar Singh (Kandha...) and so many such delightful moments.

Full marks to writer Himanshu Sharma for capturing the nuances of the contemporary ways of talking -- Tanu Weds Manu Returns rocks so much because of its dialogue.

7) Sequel smart

In recent times, there have been many films that have had sequels. Think Dhoom, Don, Krrish, Dabangg, Housefull, Murder and many more. All these films were commercially successful and have faithful followers. But there haven’t been too many films where the part two has stayed with the audience as much as part one did with the exception of the Munnabhai series. And that is where Tanu Weds Manu Returns scores big.

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