According to Anand L. Rai, the director behind movies such as Tanu Weds Manu as well as Ranjhaanaa, he loves exploiting people emotionally. And he is quite successful in doing that when we see that both Tanu Weds Manu as well as Raanjhanaa were massively successful at the box-office and the sentimental quotient was high in both the movies. Anand L. Rai doesn’t tell simple stories rather he weaves a narrative filled with socio-political commentary that peeks at you from every nook and corner. Anand L. Rai is someone who won’t try to milk the image of the small town to give his films a superficial edge rather he was among the first to bring back the idea of small town back under consideration in Bollywood giving it a complete makeover, a trend that can could’ve started with Bunty aur Babli.
Anand L. Rai was an engineering graduate before making a move to Mumbai and working on television before finally deciding to make try his luck in Bollywood. His first movie was an ambitious take on Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train that he remade as Stranger, starring Jimmy Shergill and Kay Kay Menon.. Following more or less the same pace, this movie was a box office bomb that didn’t please the audience was well as the critics. His next movie, Thoda Life Thoda Magic, was another insipid outing, starring Parmit Sethi and Jackie Shroff among others. Honestly, these two movies never gave anyone the vaguest of clue that Anand L. Rai would one day become a much sought after director in the industry.
But finally Anand consolidated his position in Bollywood with Tanu Weds Manu.Tanu Weds Manu had two talented actors. Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut. Both were going through a rough patch. Madhavan was losing his position in Bollywood while Kangana was limited to roles, as the director himself puts in, where she was more or less neurotic. Playing Tanu was a revelation for Kangana as well as the industry which sat back and understood that Ranaut was a extremely talented. Madhavan too got a fresh lease of life in Bollywood and the box office success of the movie also meant that Anand L. Rai had finally hit the jackpot.
Ranjhaanaa had to be Anand’s magnum opus as he orchestrated a coup of sorts by showing love in its purest form. Dhanush, playing Kundan with Sonam Kapoor as Zoya, with Abhay Deol in a pivotal role, it managed to create ripple across the country. Moreoever, it was Dhanush who won the hearts of one and all as the lovable yet impulsive and Zoya-obsessed Kundan. He is simple. He doesn’t understand all the intricacies involved when Hindu guy loves a Muslim girl or why Zoya won’t love him. He knows that Zoya belongs to him. And though he becomes a stalker of sorts, he ultimately makes the greatest sacrifice for his love, because he realized it was the only way to make her understand after an unfortunate incident that made Zoya hate him. Everyone praised the movie for its fresh yet serious take on inter-religious love.
Another important aspect of Anand L. Rai’s movies is to present an evocative picture of the small town. It is this that gave him the much needed success in Bollywood and his script present it skillfully as he takes the viewers on a journey of sorts, across the lanes and bylanes, small town dreams and aspirations. If we look at Tanu Weds Manu or even Ranjhaanaa, Anand has perfectly understood the vibe of a small town. And this same trend can be seen in Tanu Weds Manu 2, where the flavour is extremely glocal. Not only has he managed to give small town a different treatment than most of his contemporaries, Anand has recreated a sort of place for small towns in Bollywood narratives.
Apart from continuously exploring small towns, Anand, in a number of interviews, has spoken about his attachment with the subject of love, loss, death as well as hope. While Tanu Weds Manu speaks volume about love, it is with Ranjhaanaa that director Anand managed to further this thematic exploration of love as well as loss and what it is to love someone who will not reciprocate your love. Ranjhaanaa felt the ire of feminists but it was a stupendous success at the box office as it connected with a lot of people. The issue that it glorified stalking was misleading rather it showed how small town love functioned and the sacrifice one can make for his love.
Anand is back with a much anticipated sequel to Tanu Weds Manu, and it has already taken the social media by storm. He returns to his comfort zone once again, and as the trailer suggests, this is going to be double the fun, double the extravaganza than the first one. Also the songs from Tanu Weds Manu Returns have been trending especially the song Banno becoming a chartbuster. We hope Anand will continue making such movies because Bollywood needs directors like him who can still provide original content that catches attention of the starved audience.