Embarking on a journey as a writer in Bollywood, today, Himanshu Sharma is riding high on the success of the Tanu Weds Manu series which got him a National Award. It is
quite a rare occasion to see a quintessential Bollywood love story bag a National Award for its script but it is probably the rustic and realistic nature of the film that wooed the audiences even
during his release. While it is undeniable that the film is Kangna all the way, what emerged as a hero was also the script, the story and the dialogues.
Bollywood Hungama interacted with the story and dialogue writer of Tanu Weds Manu and Tanu Weds Manu Returns, the fun loving Himanshu Sharma as he reveals secrets about the
film, its characters and a lot more.
How is the feeling of winning a National Award?
Great! It is very overwhelming. Coming from a family where everyone is from Government services, it is a great honour. My family is very happy.
While writing Tanu Weds Manu Returns, did you really think the film will be a National Award winning one?
Not at all! I don’t think anybody writes thinking that but it comes as a pleasant surprise.
TWMR, is one of the few sequels which has actually been taken forward story-wise, unlike a lot others that just take the name forward as a franchise… how did you get the idea?
After Tanu Weds Manu, everyone was asking about the sequel. I know it sounded a little lucrative but at that point of time I did not have a story in hand. I (then) wanted to emotionally and
mentally write Raanjhanaa and I got on to that. While shooting for Raanjhanaa, this idea came to my mind and I thought I should develop it. The most interesting thing which compelled
me to write this (sequel) was the fact that I was being able to deal with these two very different girls (Tanu and Datto) in a film at the same point of time. I thought it was a challenge to get
these two characters against each other. That was the kick and once I started writing it, I enjoyed it a lot.
You managed to showcase the entire ‘happily-ever-after marriage’ sequence into a nightmare in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, what pushed you to break that stereotype?
(Laughs) I am not married. But when you observe people in relationships, despite the fact that there is no cheating or there are no bad human beings, yet there is something that goes missing over a
period of time.
But the film did not really get into too many details of the problemsâ€¦ but directly shifted to the separation (the problems were showcased in just one scene at the start)?
And as far as, problems in marriages are concerned, we have seen films like that (before). I did not want to dwell into what all went wrong, aree yeh kaam nahi karta ya kya kya dikkatein ho
rahi hai, we have seen that in several films so I assumed that we all know that. That’s why I started the film with that one scene, which opened already when things are out of hand and they are
in a sad state. As far as the end is concerned, lot many people told me that Manu should have gone with Datto instead of Tanu. But I really felt that as a writer that Datto was a far stronger
character than what Tanu was. So it is important for Tanu to get a man of her dreams back, more than her (Datto). If Tanu doesn’t not get him, it would be very shattering for her but I feel that
Datto can cope with it. As a writer, all you can do is manage some honesty towards your ownself.
The difference between Tanu and Dattoâ€¦
Though the larger quest of Tanu and Datto is the same but there is a huge class difference. One (Datto) is fighting for mere freedom, basic like freedom to study, freedom to earn whereas Tanu is
fighting for little more of liberated ideas. Such a huge class difference can only exist in a country like India. We have a Chanel but we also have a sola-somvar-ka-vrat. That’s a pretty
weird sort of situation which is very intriguing if you see.
The film though is a love story and deals with something like separation, it is quirky in nature and so are its characters; it’s a rare kind of humour that is seen in Bollywood…
If you have to say a difficult thing in a difficult way, then I’m not interested. If you see a film like 3 Idiots and if you ask Raju Sir (Raj Kumar Hirani) about the same, he would say I’m
making a film on education. When you see the film, it, of course, talks about education but just see the way he has done it – it is full of fun. According to me, the film should be entertaining and
engaging in every sense. I am not a trained writer. I follow just one principle – if I am liking a scene then I would write it. I won’t assume that if I am not liking it others will like it. As far
as the characters are concerned, they are a demand of the story. These characters don’t exist outside of their world but in the ones you are trying to create. It’s the need for every story to
command what kind of characters it would take. I have been dealing with these stories which have light-hearted characters in it.
Have you really met a character like Dattu or Tanu in real life?
No, not in real life. I have met people whom I have seen a glimpse of it. I studied in Delhi University and I have seen many Haryanvi girls who work and study at the same time. Pretty hard life!
They are coming out from remote areas and trying to be financially independent and get education. That diction I have seen! But not exactly like how Datto is. You just imagine and develop a story
Now I know how you managed to get such amazing Haryanvi accent…
I think it all goes to Kangna, she has really worked hard. Dialogues are of course there but as a writer all you can do is write those lines. It’s on the actor how he or she performs. Screenplays
are not supposed to be read but to be seen. No matter how good your writing is but if it is not delivered well, it can look shabby. In that sense, Kangna has really really done a great job.
In an interesting interview, you had once said that you would like to write the sleaziest of the film yet Tanu Weds Manu Returns despite being about rediscovering love, doesn’t’ have
those titillating elementsâ€¦ was this again a decision of Aanand L. Rai or was it your suggestion?
(Laughs) I had said that more in a joking way. It’s just that I don’t have any hesitation (in writing such films). Principally I am not rejecting it. If there is some story (in the future) which
really allows me to get into such kind of sexual scenes, I would write it. Not necessarily in a comic way, it can be a thriller or straightaway like a sleazy film but as long as a story is there.
That’s the thing! People want to see people there, they want to see stories. In TWMR, there was no room for that (sexual scenes), in a story like this. Unnecessarily, why would I want to get into
something like that, what the story is organically not allowing me to do? If I have a story that requires it, then I won’t shy away from it, as long as it’s compulsory.
What was the biggest challenge while writing Tanu Weds Manu Returns?
After Queen, I was blown away by Kangna’s performance. Post that, I had told her that she had to give me more time may be a couple of more months to rework on the script because if not
better then it at least have to match this one. It’s a big responsibility. I couldn’t offer her anything less. Double role was already there but a little more responsibility towards it. When you
take an actor, your biggest fear is that you do not waste his or her talent and get the best possible thing out of them.
Which character according to you was the best written one and why?
I think Raja Awasthi (played by Jimmy Sheirgill) was a bit tricky. This time, his character was a bit quirky yet serious yet a bit of haara-hua (a little defeated with life) yet fighting for it. In
the first part, he was a very strong minded guy but in the second, it is sort of his age is taken over a bit. So he had become a little easy on things. He can take things with a pinch of salt yet
he has the old Raja Awasthi in him. And I think Jimmy Sir has done a fantastic job in portraying it.
Do you think Tanu Weds Manu should have a third installment?
I really don’t know. When I wrote the first part, I never thought of a second. ‘Never say Never’ but that would only happen when I have a story.
If the producer agrees for a third installment… would you like to take forward the same story or make a new one?
I would take forward the story. In a story like this, we can only add people, you cannot omit.
As a writer, which other Bollywood film, according to you was the best written one in 2016, besides Tanu Weds Manu Returns?
Hands down Badlapur! I loved that film so much I can’t tell you. I wrote a one page long message to Sriram Sir (Director of Badlapur, Sriram Raghavan) and with him being him he just
wrote, ‘Thank You Himanshu’. It was fantastic. Such a violent film being anti-violent! Impeccable writing and direction! I am a big fan of Sriram Sir and I have always loved his work and this one
Will you be writing the script of Anand L. Rai and Shah Rukh Khan‘s next?
Yes, I am writing it. I am really excited to work with Shah Rukh Khan. It’s an honour.
Is the film, a love story of a dwarf?
Well I would like to leave the details for the screen. But yes, it is a romantic drama and yes ‘dwarf’ is the character. I would like to however believe that, it’s not the USP. You will be done
with it in 30 seconds or may be 1 minute. How much can you dwell over the fact about the character of a dwarf? After that, you have to come down to the main story and that’s what I am fighting for.
I hope I am able to write as good a film as I would like to see on screen. I am in the exploring phase right now.
Will this love story too have the rustic (small town) touch like Tanu Weds Manu?
In a conscious way, I don’t get into the rural or semi-urban touch in a story. The story in itself will tell you where to place it. Raanjhanaa could happen only in a place like Benaras, a
Tanu Weds Manu could only happen in a place like Lucknow or Kanpur or Allahabad. I think this story will also find its own place. This film will be shot in varied locations, India, in the
interiors and some of it even outside.
What are your next projects?
That’s it! Main ek waqt mein ek film likh doon, yahi badi baat hain! Yes, there are a couple of story ideas but right now I am engaged with this one.