Last Friday night I watched the much applauded Bollywood movie ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’. The motivation was this column by Mint Lounge editor Priya Ramani. The column written from a modern day feminist point of view extols the actions of Kangana Ranaut’s character ‘Tanu’, which reminded me of the movie Queen, a brilliant film by the way, and I thought this one would be such a movie as well, but boy was I wrong. Let’s dissect the movie based on the points raised in the column point by point.
So the movie is about Tanu, a small town Kanpur girl, who is married to a doctor from Delhi and lives in London. It is shown that she’s fed up of her husband as there is little ‘excitement’ in her married life. Her husband, called a ‘sturdy slug’ and a ‘bore’ in the column, who provides for the family and gives her a stable and comfortable life, appears to have done everything on his part to keep her happy; from moving from Southall to countryside on her insistence to opening a creche for her as she claimed to be bored of doing nothing at home all day. In return he gets to see her entitled-self complaining about her life, flirting with random men in pubs, body-shaming him in front of others, and getting him a complementary admission to a mental asylum.
But then, that’s what ‘sturdy slugs’ deserve as per the column, including infidelity.
So next, Tanu goes back to India after leaving her husband to fend for himself in a British mental asylum, and with the symbolism of open, flowing hair, goes around engaging with her exes (note that the couple are not separated yet). But the poor ‘sturdy slug’ is still not over her (despite all he had to face from an ungrateful Tanu) and bumps into her lookalike in the form of a Haryanvi athlete called ‘Datto’ on the grounds of Delhi University. Credit where it is due, the character is very well enacted by Ranaut and in the movie. Datto appears to be a genuinely nice and understanding woman, unlike Tanu, but the tone with which the article is written, it barely mentions the character once and keeps on praising the virtues of a self-centered Tanu. Anyway, the two get emotionally involved and decide to get married. Knowing this suddenly Tanu has the longing to go back to her husband and make things right. She goes around looking for him and in one scene she is shown to have knocked the doors of his parents’ house. There she threatens them that if she wants she can send them to jail, of course, without their fault as the biased matrimony laws such as Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act among others have had a rampant history of misuse against innocent families, and Tanu seems to be aware of this. Dangerous woman.
Finally Tanu gets to meet Datto, and guess what? The kind of person she is, she ridicules her and points and laughs at her for being a rustic village woman. She calls her a ‘joker’, a ‘ganwar‘ and tells her husband that ‘She’ deserved better than Datto as it would ruin her reputation that her husband left her for an evidently unsophisticated woman.
Then Datto responds to her pointing out her hypocrisy by reminding her that she has nothing in her to flaunt about, that before the wedding she lived on the financial support of her parents, and post it on her husband’s, that she has bought nothing ever with her own money, and that she travels the world, boozes etc. on her husband’s credit card. She goes on to compare herself with Tanu that she has secured admission in DU through her own efforts via the athlete quota and that she’s a state level athlete. She further reminds her that unlike her she can fend for herself. Tanu is visibly startled and later blames her husband for not standing up to her. Well, why would any human at such condescending behavior?
Not surprisingly, the column fails to mention this part. By the way, it is to be noted that the creche her husband had opened for Tanu was closed as apparently as she made the children drink alcohol. Another example of her godforsaken attitude is when in an earlier scene post coming to India she ridicules a guest at her home working in an IT firm. Wonder what she had achieved to behave with so much of entitlement.
In the end, as it is a standard Bollywood movie, Tanu and her husband get together and the column exclaims as to why? How could Tanu get back together with her ‘slug’ husband, she should have in turn been with her ex and married him as she deserved better than her husband. Well, here I partly agree, even I wonder why they got back together. Despite such attitude and behavior of Tanu, why on earth did her husband decide to get back with her? (Well, one theory I can think of is he harbored the fear of being slapped with false cases; just kidding, not really, but think about it!)
So, in a gist, Tanu has achieved nothing whatsoever in her life, lives a comfortable life in London where she has everything she can ask for and that she could never afford on her own, she contributes little to her marriage and is unhappy because her husband is a ‘bore’, is ungrateful to the extent that she’s complaining all the time notwithstanding of admitting her husband in a mental asylum. She has a serious attitude problem, is condescending towards almost everyone, and is immoral to the extent that she threatens to falsely accuse people under the laws that are in her favor.
The column ignores all of the above and keeps on praising the spirit of Tanu.
Now I don’t care two hoots about mass Bollywood movies to devote a blog piece about them, but watching the movie after reading the said column made me ponder about the hypocrisy of the modern day feminist movement. Imagine if it were the man in the relationship doing the same because he felt the woman was a ‘bore’? Well, that movie is called Queen (again, a brilliant movie) and we have seen how similar behavior by the man was looked upon as. Even Ms. Ramani is all praises about it (rightfully) in the same column. But when it’s the other way around, the man is still the culprit. The man is always the culprit.