Kangana Ranaut – A Revolutionary Queen?

Accumulating great reviews and acclaim, Tanu Weds Manu Returns has been depicted as a trendsetter and a break from the past. Garnering immense appraisal for her role in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Kangana Ranaut has been dubbed as a female Khan of the Hindi Cinema and a new icon of feminism that is steering the Bollywood towards a new era. Regrettably, the journey of Kangana Ranaut from Queen to Tanu Weds Manu Returns is anti-climactic and regressive. Embarking on a journey from New Delhi to Paris and then Amsterdam by her own, the character of Rani aka Kangana Ranaut in Queen evolves from being an under-confident girl to a liberated woman who is not afraid to take decisions for herself, disparage the values that expect her to circle her life around a man and finally shuns the fiancé who has left her on altar.

Tanu Weds Manu Returns, however, proves to be no trend-setter and coming of age of the Hindi cinema. Talented as she is, Kangana Ranaut, delivers an outstanding performance in the movie and splendidly, plays a character of both Tanu and Datto; nonetheless, the movie seems to propagate and validate the same patriarchal norms that were confuted and showcased as regressive in the movie Queen.

Reiterating the misogyny and male chauvinism, all women are debunked as perplexing and bewildering and seem to be suffering from a common disease by a doctor in the opening scene of the movie. Wearied of her marriage, Tanuja Trivedi aka Kangana Ranaut flies back to Kanpur from London and straightaway becomes a cliché. A rebel without a cause, Tanuja Trivedi embraces the role of a sexy siren that loves to titillate men with her sexuality, flirts with them incessantly and keeps them around to reassert her own identity. Objectifying women as sexual objects, the movie denigrates them to their physical self and hence, lewd and lascivious conduct is endorsed, stalking is advocated and even encouraged as it can prove rewarding and kidnapping a girl from her marriage goes without punishment.

Sticking to a stereotype, the movie portrays Tanu as an embodiment of an appealing and a spoilt girl whose only real concern in life is to drink incessantly, chase men from her past and incite them to pursue her and to be gazed at. The only girl who comes close to a real person and not a mere stereotype is a plain ‘Jane’ in the form of Datto. A state champion, a great athlete, she too, is dimished to a physical being that is only valued for her close resemblance to Tanu and is seen to be emulated by Tanu, thinking, it can only be her visage that has allured her husband and not her character. Never holding any real chance against Tanu who is stunning and tempting, Datto is a tomboy. Living in a real world, harboring no illusions, she is burdened with family responsibilities and is therefore, not too concerned with her looks. However, with entry of Manu in her life, everything that has defined her earlier alters; her only concern becomes her love and upcoming nuptials with Manu. That too seems to end badly for her when Tanu is preferred and chosen over her with reassertion of patriarchal rules that has challenged and transgressed (shallow, though, it may be) by Tanu for a short while.

Moving towards a much predictable climax, Kangana aka Tanu makes a mockery of herself by deciding to come to her husband’s second marriage and dancing before her husband’s departing wedding procession. Reduced to a figure of pathos, she is only accepted after much cajoling, crying, begging and writhing on her part and remorse for her past behavior. Asking forgiveness for being her natural self (however, silly that may be), she demeans herself to a point where she completely effaces her personality so her husband can reassert his macho-ism and manhood.

Unlike Queen, the character of Tanuja Trivedi remains flat throughout and never evolves. Belittling the character of Tanu to a mere eye candy that has to be succumbed to meet patriarchal demands and to enfold her back into her husband’s life, the movie is anything but reassertion of male bigotry and much held stereotypes against women with which women are often portrayed in the Hindi cinema. No wonder, the movie is a great box office hit and has crossed a mark of hundred crores in collections.

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