It’s just another night in Haryana’s Jhajjar district, except a jat household is having sleepless nights over the marriage of their daughter. Kusum (Kangana Ranaut), a Delhi university student and a successful athlete, is going to marry a 40-year-old doctor, who has just returned from an asylum in London. Dr. Manu Sharma (R. Madhavan) is having issues with his wife, Tanuja Trivedi and their marriage is nearly over. To add more confusion to the plot of “Tanu Weds Manu Returns”, Kusum is Tanuja’s double. Go figure! [Review here]
In another corner of the Haryana village, a despondent Tanuja is walking by herself at night, drinking.
“Did you ever miss me?” she asks her estranged husband in the next scene.
“No,” the man says promptly but uncertainly.
And then film director Anand L. Rai introduces the forgotten voice of Geeta Dutt, Hindi cinema’s legendary singer.
As Tanuja totters off on a desolate street in Jhajjar, a beautiful song from another century serves as a background score to talk about all the horrible things that love, by default, brings. Here it is:
The song, “Ja ja ja Bewafa”, is from “Aar Paar”, directed by Guru Dutt. O. P. Nayyar was the music composer. The 1954 film is about a taxi driver, his ambitions and a love triangle too.
The sequel to Tanu Weds Manu is a fun watch and has brilliant punch lines in every scene that would put star comedian Kapil Sharma (or his scriptwriters) to shame. A Geeta Dutt song is not only out of place in the film. It is more than that. Despite its immortal melody, it jars against a nondescript romantic story that has nothing but detours, plots and sub-plots and their shorter extensions.
For the WhatsApp generation, the tenuous world of Geeta Dutt is far removed; it’s even farther removed from the huge popular culture that Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle have been a part of.
Geeta, the estranged wife of Guru Dutt, died at 41. She took to drinking as her husband romanced actress Waheeda Rehman. Her husband, a celebrated filmmaker, died earlier, due to an overdose of sleeping pills.
“Geeta Dutt’s voice conveys the sweetness of honey and the pain of the bee sting,” critic Subhash K Jha has said.
The song of her life was “Waqt ne kiya” for “Kaagaz Ke Phool”, a film about a director, his troubled marriage and a relationship with an actress that proves fatal.
In a relatively short career, she sang in various genres of music – peppy club numbers, melancholic melodies, romantic songs and bhajans as well. Hers was a soft, lilting voice that didn’t seem weighed down by the rules of music grammar.
A guest appearance in a forgetful Bollywood film doesn’t add anything to the legacy that the singer left behind. It only reinforces the profound difference between Bombay’s cinema-making culture that existed then and now.
PS: But do watch the film, if you want to laugh continuously for more than two hours.