It’s axiomatic: Drinking water is never so gratifying and satisfying as when you are very, very thirsty: That’s the reason for the super-success of Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Movie buffs had been craving for too long for a universally-appealing entertainer, one that they could watch with friends and family, complete with romance, drama, comedy, music—all the right masala in perfect proportion, in a wholesome package.
The true-blue Hindi film audience, pan-India, deep down, does not care for niche cinema, whatever its merits, and discard bad attempts in mainstream cinema to hook them. The few that worked in 2015—Dum Lagaa Ke Haisha, Gabbar Is Back, Piku—were not really those complete entertainers. The first lacked both star value and masala, and the second and third too had their share of deficiencies.
With a panther-like spring, TWMR has now overtaken the latter films, leaving them trailing though Piku had a head-start of two weeks over it, and Gabbar Is Back a lead of three weeks.
And so, while Tanu Weds Manu Returns crossed the 100 crore worldwide figure on day 8, it will cross the more celebrated and vital domestic 100 crore landmark on day 11—today!
Is all this explained by just the film’s intrinsic merits and assets? After all, every 100-crore film that has reached this benchmark so soon has had an A-list superstar as hero, usually with an A-list heroine, or incredible music as in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. The movies minus A-list actors, irrespective of genre (Ek Villain, 2 States, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Grand Masti) took anything from 14 to 28 days to reach the benchmark, and were certainly not, in the strict sense, masala family entertainers.
Look at the hurricane pace with which TWMR has zoomed and maintained past the second week, an exceptional feat for a film minus A-list superstars. After all, even the 2014 Queen starring Kangana Ranaut did not quite make the grade, and nor did the 2011 Tanu Weds Manu, the prequel.
If there is any film with which TWMR can perhaps be compared, it would be Dabangg four years ago, which took off like a cyclone and crossed 100 crore on day 10, its sweep taking everyone by surprise, just like TWMR now.
And that is because this film too satiated a long-standing thirst for a true-blue Hindi film with a larger-than-life hero and his spunky ladylove, a strong villain, action, family conflict, drama, comedy and brilliant music.
Back in September 2010 when that film released, the Hindi film audience was desperate for the wholesome Hindi entertainer after a dry spell. And yes, Sonakshi Sinha then was an unknown entity while Salman Khan was far from the mega-star he became with and after it. Salman had then ended 2009 with Wanted, whose success triggered this game-changing film, and the flop London Dreams.
So we sincerely hope that, like Salman, Kangana Ranaut also enters the superstar league with this spectacular triumph. And handles her career well.
And an amusing observation is that, in both cases, Rajkumar Hirani had given two milestone films at the tail-end of the previous year: 3 Idiots and PK respectively, films that redefined family viewing despite not being typical entertainers.
So was it actually these two Hirani hits that had whetted audience appetite for wholesome manoranjan, with Dabangg and Tanu Weds Manu Returns coming in as the right films at the right time in the vacuums that had since been created?
– Rajiv Vijayakar, a Senior Journalist, Film & Music Critic and Historian for Hindi cinema and Film Music is also an Author and Twice Jury Member at 58th and 62nd National Film Awards.
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