A still from Tanu Weds Manu Returns Image: Twitter
Who is a strong, independent woman?
It's about time Bollywood asks itself this question, for somewhere, the understanding is warped. Is she rude and ruthless? Well, yeah, if she needs to be. But does she lack basic moral principles? Never. Because that just violates being human.
Three years after the release of Tanu Weds Manu Returns, the hit sequel to the 2011 film, Tanu Weds Manu, it's time we called it out on its hypocritical, borderline dangerous portrayal of feminism.
Tanuja Trivedi aka Tanu, brought to life by the eccentric brilliance of Kangana Ranaut, is no Rani of Queen. Tanu is manipulative, toxic and mean. And if you had any troubles identifying her in the first part, here's presenting Kusum aka Datto (essayed by Kangana again) as a foil to Tanu.
Tanu and Manoj Sharma aka Manu (R Madhavan) have been married for four years now, and they appear to be just a normal bickering married couple until you realise Tanu just had Manu taken into custody under a suspected mental illness. Well, there's the possibility that she's right and Manu does, in fact, torture her mentally, but even that shred of doubt is eradicated when she requests Pappi (Deepak Dobriyal) to bail him out.
Okay, so she's flawed. We all are. Isn't it amazing to have a story unfold from a flawed, independent woman's perspective? Yes, it is. Except that Tanu is not flawed. She's homicidal.
The oldest lie Bollywood has ever sold you is that you value something only after you've lost it. As if it makes it okay to not value something while you have it.
Tanu realises she absolutely, dearly loves Manu only when he's almost walked down the aisle to marry Datto. Not when she left him in the mental asylum in London, not when he demanded an apology from her (after what he'd been through, he deserved one, right?), which she pithily ignored. Not even when she was amusing herself by egging Raja (Jimmy Shergill) on, her ex-boyfriend. But when Manu moved closer towards possibly finding happiness with someone else.
No, I am not being all moralistic and judgemental here. And no, it wasn't okay that Manu kept falling for Datto while he was still clearly emotionally (and legally) attached to Tanu. But I'm not going to root for Tanu and her portrayal of a supposed manly trait of being nefarious, unscrupulous and unethical, just because she's a woman. It's like smoking a cigarette, it's injurious irrespective of one's gender.
That's that about the film, but how do you suppose it was a dangerous portrayal of feminism? Well, in a world that is already confused about what feminism truly stands for, it will now be identified with being selfish and promiscuous.
Three years later, Sonam Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan seem to have drawn inspiration from Tanu and decided that objectifying men like a piece of meat, like they've been doing to us for centuries, is feminism, liberation, empowerment.
Gosh, I am neither selfish nor promiscuous, nor have I been able to pass lewd comments at a man at the bar. Am I still a feminist?