FFG Review: Tanu Weds Manu Returns

Hello again!

Wow, two posts in one week, I can’t remember the last time I pulled that off!

Tanu Weds Manu Returns First Look.jpg

Last week’s Throwback Video referenced the opening sequence of the movie Tanu Weds Manu Returns, with Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut reprising their iconic roles from the 2011 movie, plus a double role that definitely stole the show.  Things between Tanu and Manu disintegrate rapidly after the happily-ever-after we saw in the first movie.  On the brink of divorce, Manu finds himself Tanu’s doppelganger Kusum, a fiercely independent nationally ranked athlete from a traditional family in Haryana.  Old flames are rekindled, new sparks fly, and the whole time you’re praying that fire doesn’t break out.

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Language 2.0/5

As far as I can tell the subtitles were great, but there was a lot of slang in the movie, and the accents were hard to follow, especially Kusum’s Haryani accent.  That being said the film’s plot was pretty easy to follow, in spite of the craziness, making this a pretty straightforward viewing experience on the whole.

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Subject 2.0/5

While a lot of the film will be difficult for a Western viewer to relate to personally, there are plot points that are undeniably universal.  For example, there are aspects of the movie (like threats of honor killings or jokes about masculine delusion and female abductions) that are glossed over and laughed off, where as I personally couldn’t see any humor in it.  Even the main crisis of the movie might appear forced to a Western viewer, because divorce is a common and socially accepted solution for couples that cannot resolve their differences.  However, while the struggle that Jassi and Payal face after the birth of their daughter is not unknown to Western cinema, it is a radical departure for traditional masala films, and a great addition to the storyline.  Ranaut’s portrayal of two women who are both trying to forge their own path and identity in spite of familial and cultural disapproval will resonate with women everywhere, even though their methods of self-fulfillment are often seen contextually as overtly selfish, and not in a positive way.

Overall Quality of the Movie: 3.0/5

This was a hard call for me, because while I didn’t like the plot very much (especially the second half), I cannot deny that the film was incredibly well done, and that the acting was top notch, especially by Kangana Ranaut and Deepak Dobriyal.  I think the best thing to say was that I found the movie incredibly fascinating, not only to watch but to reflect on afterward.  There was a lot going on in this movie all at once, but it was still easy to watch and keep track of the plot lines.  In reading this review from Huffington Post, as well as this one from The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker (SPOILERS!), it is clear that the movie has received polarizing reviews, and in turn I have tried to reasses my initial dislike of the movie.  On reflection, is it possible that both of Kangana Ranaut’s characters are trying to interpret feminism as equality with men, including how they behave?  They both respond in very non-traditional ways to events as they unfold, and I feel that it is precisely because they are reacting in traditional masculine ways that makes it hard to watch. Or is that given the character writing too much credit for nuance?  It’s a tough call.

I think my favorite aspect of the movie is that all the male characters face the same realization at one point or other in the film: falling for a woman does not make her automatically perfect, and it does not mean she will automatically act the way you expect her to.  And that that’s okay, because life is messy and people are complicated.

At the end of the day, it is perhaps the fact that we are still talking about it, contradicting our own movie critics reviews of it (causing said movie critic to resign), and still confused about our feelings towards it, that makes this movie so compelling.

Number of Catchy Songs: 3

My two favorites for “Banno” and “Ghani Bawri”, but “Move On” was also particularly catchy.

So have you seen Tanu Weds Manu Returns yet?  What did you think of my review, do you agree with it? Did you like the movie? Feel free to leave some suggestions of Bollywood films you would like me to review!

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