Defending Tanu. And Manu too: About Character And Its Assassination

Okay. About Tanu and Manu. I believe in them. I believe they are real, flawed people. Of course it’s considered inappropriate to flirt with people. But that Ricksaw driver is her ex boyfriend. There are flirty people in this world who spare almost no one.

But I think the main issue people have is with Manu’s choice. Let’s revisit the Manu from part one. A sincere, quiet lover who says nothing, does nothing. He just keeps worshipping, rather than loving, her from a distance. He sees a girl full of life. She takes risks and lives by her own rules. She keeps flirting with him without intending to take it any further. She drinks, smokes and is overall the kind of girl people frown at. Both of them are okay with that. If you notice in both the films, she drinks to have fun at times but mainly when she’s upset. When her husband is locked up in a mental facility for example. (By the way, she didn’t get him locked up. The psychiatrists did. And she made sure she gets him released).
The Manu of the last film took that girl and made her a housewife in an alien land. How was the relationship going to thrive? Of course it didn’t. She rebelled and took it out on the only person there. When she returned home, she felt important. She felt like she’s somebody. She was just lounging around at home till she got a legal notice from her husband. Then she just went out on a “I’ll show him” spree. The look on her face in one shot when no one was watching conveys that she’s moving to hide her pain and anger pain, not to have fun.
And what about Kusum, the seedhi-sadhi girl? Why didn’t Manu choose her? But wait he did choose her, to begin with. And what did he like about her? First, her looks. Then her courage, her vivacity. And her courage. Her refusal to follow the dictates of her society. See a pattern here? Everything he likes in Kusum, he liked in Tanu first. There is a nice parallel of him watching Kusum dance. It echoes scenes from the last film when he watched Tanu dance and fell for her. We are supposed to see that. And see that he doesn’t see it.
And there is also an inversion. In this film Tanu is the one vying to be selected and Manu doing the selection. So you see Tanu trying to do the right thing. Talking, cajoling, working for her marriage, and when all fails, showing her desperation and love openly by dancing in front of him in public.
Its the easiest thing in the world to write black and white characters. Villains that just want to kill for no reason, or heroes that run an orphanage while saving the world. Those are the staple of ordinary fiction. Create characters that have flaws but rise above them, and you create stories that last. So Manu dithers, and sulks. And he realises that he loves Tanu when he sees her again. But he stays steadfast with Kusum when he feels that her duty lies that way. And Tanu is a flirt and a rebel. Maybe even spoilt. But she stays with the man she loves when it matters the most and when it was the hardest for her to do so. Thats what matters. Thats what I mean when i say that the characters are trying to do the right thing. Flaws and all.

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