Spoiler Alert: Those people who have not seen Tanu Weds Manu Returns are warned to read this blogpost only after watching the movie. Any request for compensation for spoiling the fun of the movie will not be entertained if you still continue to read this post.
To begin with, this is not a critical review of the movie ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’. I watch movies primarily for entertainment (though I’m not averse to a bit of intellectual stimulation, provided it is not in quantities that are hazardous to the human mind). And this movie is without doubt very entertaining. Also, Kangana Ranaut is absolutely brilliant in both of her roles. I don’t think I’m enough of a movie buff to shed further light on the technical aspects of the movie, such as direction, editing, script and such. Why I’m writing this post is primarily to explore the dynamics of the interplay between the three principle characters in the movie – Tanu, Manu and Datto. Because I think, it offers a fascinating insight into the wider dynamics of male-female relationships.
Right at the beginning of the movie, it is pretty obvious that Tanu and Manu, despite their rhyming names, are not meant for each other. Manu is the most boring man on this earth. His idea of a great weekend is to go to a discount sale at the local supermarket. On top of that, he’s a doctor. Tanu on the other hand craves excitement and thrill. Nothing is common between them, their sex life is as existent as Rahul Gandhi’s IQ, and quite understandably their marriage is on the verge of breaking apart. Tanu is a beautiful, charming, vivacious, emotionally expressive woman. She’s also selfish, manipulative, and completely narcissistic. After manipulating the British authorities into confining her husband into a mental asylum, she returns to her hometown in India and immediately picks up the threads of her pre-marital life. She actively searches out her former admirers and brazenly flirts with them, evoking sentiments which she has no intention of reciprocating. She’s simply enjoying the power of her beauty and charm.
Manu follows her to India and meets Datto, the Haryanvi student athlete. Manu first pursues her because she has a physical resemblance to his wife, but soon realizes that unlike Tanu, Datto is a simple, straightforward, village girl, with no womanly wiles or guiles about her – and it is these qualities that attract him to her, despite the fact that she’s a plain Jane in comparison to his wife. Datto, unlike Tanu, is so selfless that before going to her own village to talk to her elders about marrying Manu, she takes a detour to first help Manu’s friend Pappi. Manu realizes the full extent of her love for him when he sees her furiously fight with her brother and other relatives for the right to marry him.
Meanwhile Tanu hears that Manu is marrying Datto and, shocked, she rushes to confront him. She makes cruel fun of the rustic Datto, but the unabashed Haryanvi girl replies that she’s a state level athlete who has earned her own place into Delhi University in contrast to Tanu who has depended all her life first on her father, and then on her husband to provide for her. When her womanly wiles fail her, Tanu resorts to the last weapon in a woman’s armoury – emotional blackmail. She stays weepy eyed and moping in front of Manu all the time, silently and piteously reminding him of their shared moments of the past. And at the last moment, the man’s heart softens and he rushes to comfort the beautiful woman’s tears – leaving the woman who loves him standing lonely and devastated at the marriage mandap.
So in the end, even though the man realizes that the girl with the inner beauty, the woman of substance, is who he should actually spend his life with, it is the woman with the outer beauty, charm and guiles who manages to hold on to him. And is this what happens in real life? Do I really need to answer this question?
So am I blaming the beautiful woman for this? Not at all. Everyone has the right to be what he or she is. I don’t advocate being moralistic about anything in life. Do I blame the simple woman, the plain Jane for her devotion? Of course not. The only person I’m blaming here is the man, who is wise enough to perceive the true beauty of a woman, and is yet ultimately so blinded by external beauty that he foolishly goes back into a relationship that is bound to give both the concerned parties future grief and misery. And yes, probably all the men in the world are like that.
A man usually knows what will make him truly happy in life. But he will still desire only those things that will make him seem like a success in the eyes of other men.