When romantic comedy Tanu Weds Manu was released in 2011, it took the box office by storm and won over audiences around the world.
Such was the popularity of the film, starring R Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut, that fans were keen to stay connected with the couple after the happy ending of the first film. Hotly anticipated sequel Tanu Weds Manu Returns is in cinemas now, with the story picking up four years after the first installment ended.
Lead star Madhavan spoke to EE about the Anand L Rai-directed movie and a lot more.
Where you surprised by how well Tanu Weds Manu did?
Actually, I had faith in the film from the very beginning. I knew that it had a nice desi flavour and was the kind of romantic story missing from Indian film scenarios at that time. We grew up in those kinds of scenarios and I knew this would be a flavour of the season, but no, I didn’t expect it to do so well.
What is your fondest memory from part one?
The memories that stick with me are the ones around how Anand, me and the producers struggled to finish the film. We bent over backwards to make sure it became what it is. Nobody believed in it. Finally it was a vindication.
Tell us about Tanu Weds Manu Returns?
I think for the first time, it’s a sequel in the truest sense and has the exact same timeline with all the characters who were there in the original.
It is exactly four years later, which is true to the timeline we are trying to tell the story in. It is how these people have grown and how love has completely changed its form to torment these two married people from the first part. We have almost all the same junior artists, character artists and technical team, which I think is incredible.
Was it easy for you as an actor to jump back into the character?
Not really. You leave part of yourself with the character all the time, sort of like a seed or an investment, so to pick it up from there is the easy part. But to project backwards from four years of trauma and to make that real for a film like Tanu Weds Manu Returns, where realism is everything, was the tough part.
What is it like acting opposite a firecracker like Kangana Ranaut?
It was brilliant. She is honestly one of the most talented actors in the country today. It is awesome to spar with her on set. You are always on your toes and you don’t want to let go of an opportunity to score. Our characters have disagreements, but there is also a sense of deep-rooted love between Tanu and Manu.
Do you have a favourite moment from the sequel?
Every day at lunchtime, when Anand and I used to set up a buffet of the most exotic foods from the local area, was my all-time favourite on the set.
In terms of the movie, I love the first scene. I think it’s something every person who has been married for even seven days or seven years will know and relate to immediately.
So is Tanu Weds Manu Returns aimed at couples?
You can bring your family, friends and your pets as well. It’s a complete family film in its entirety.
How do you find doing comedy?
Oh, I love it, Asjad. It’s very rare that you come across a script like this which can be told to a cell-phone generation without losing their interest in terms of comedy. I would love to do more comedy because it’s a lot more fun, but I don’t get too many of those scripts.
What is your greatest unfulfilled ambition in terms of your acting career?
There are lots of roles, from soldiers to forensic accountants, that I want to play. The whole thing is not whether I want to play these characters or what I want to play, but getting offered a script and a team that sees the exact same film from the day you start the project until it is released. I really wish I had the luxury of choosing scripts.
Is it an exciting time to be an actor in India?
Yes, it is one of those times that you have to be a pedigree actor. Your versatility to play characters should be aspirational for the audience who are paying money to watch you.
You can’t merely do anything that is a great story, but only fit for television, it has to be fit for the silver screen. It has to have a sensible budget and most importantly, it should have a quality that demands it be shown on the big screen.
Also, the stories need to be engaging. For instance we would never be able to make films like Piku, Kahaani, Tanu Weds Manu or Queen at one stage in Bollywood. Now all that is happening.
Tell us something that not many people know about you?
I am a gizmo freak. I have the three most powerful bikes in the world, I love gardening, I love the latest technology and I’m an avid golfer.
Why should we go watch Tanu Weds Manu Returns?
If you loved the original and you think the trailer has promise, then I assure you that the film has a lot more than the trailer.
What inspires you today?
Genuine simplicity that is able to solve big problems is one of the biggest inspirations for me.
Finally, why do you love cinema?
You get to play different characters and live different lives in one lifetime. It is probably a blessing that only a few will have.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns is in cinemas now.