WION Web TeamNew Delhi, Delhi, IndiaSep 14, 2018, 09.50 AM
There is no white or black in Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Manmarziyaan’. It is a ‘grey wala shade’ – somewhere in between. Everyone is conflicted a bit, a tad confused, undecided and everyone is stuck somewhere in the middle.
Rumi (Taapsee Pannu) is a feisty, spirited girl of a big joint family. She is the star of the family, and despite having lost her parents early in her life, knows how to manipulate her family members for her own good. She is a rebel without a cause and in love and lust with Vicky (Vicky Kaushal) a DJ who is loony, loves passionately and hates commitment. They love and fight with equal passion and are mostly in their own bubble until Rumi’s family finds out they decide to get her married to a ‘good’ boy. Enter Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan) who at the onset looks sorted, a one-dimensional personality but as the story progresses you realise the dualities in his character as well.
As Rumi pleads, threatens, cajoles Vicky to come and meet her family and talk about marriage, Vicky keeps committing and then backtracking making their love story a doomed one. And while Robbie is aware that Rumi agrees to marry him despite having a lover, he agrees to marry with her baggage. But would Vicky let Rumi marry someone else?
Based in Amritsar, the city itself forms the perfect backdrop for the story of three very complicated, conflicted personalities. A small town in northern India, Amritsar stands somewhere in the middle- seeped in culture and history- but also adapting to the changing urban character of the society at large. Much like its people especially the youth- who may colour their hair a fiery red but would also want to get married and settle down with the one they love.
In fact, Kashayp uses dualism in almost everything. Kashmir is chosen as the destination for the Honeymoon- a land known to be in conflict for years. Twin girls are used in every song, every important scene- to highlight the conflict of the mind.
Written by Kanika Dhillon, the film is actually about Rumi, played by Taapsee Pannu. Perhaps one of the most conflicted yet real characters that Bollywood has ever seen- Rumi is selfish, volatile, vulnerable. She may be confident about her demands, about her desires in life, but still needs validation from the men in her life- grandfather, lover, husband. Pannu owns every frame in the film. It is her story and she takes complete charge of it making it appear that Rumi is an extension of her real self.
Complementing Pannu’s performance in the film are the two men even though their characters aren't as well written as Pannu's. Vicky Kaushal is absolutely terrific as the buffoon Vicky Sandhu, who just knows how to love. He is stubborn much like Rumi, confused, impractical and immature and somewhat hilarious. He lives in his own bubble where he just knows how to express his ‘Fyaar’ for Rumi but is unable to commit ever to her. Kaushal, who has had a remarkable year at the movies, once again shows his versatility- making the bizarre Vicky Sandhu come alive and own the scenes he is in. Some of the best moments in the film feature Kaushal and Pannu arguing about what they want from life as a couple. Look out at the times when the camera pans over their faces while they are not speaking instead of listening. Those moments highlight the greatness of the two actors.
The third wheel (or is he?) of Vicky and Rumi’s story is Robbie. Abhishek Bachchan makes a solid comeback in a role that could have turned dangerously boring in comparison to the flamboyance of the other two characters. Of course, his is not as loud and dramatic a character as the other two, but Robbie serves as the soothing balm to Rumi and Vicky’s madness well. It isn’t the most well-written character of the movie, and it can turn one dimensional, but Bachchan delivers a confident performance and lets his eyes do the talking. He gazes long and hard at Rumi, trying to gauge her, understand her. He gazes at Vicky trying to understand how big a threat he is to him and he gazes at his parents as they cajole him to not marry Rumi but someone else. And while Rumi thinks he is a bit holier than thou- he is a calculative guy who plays his cards well, knows when to not react and knows how to make his wife fall for him.
The first half is a breezy, fun ride. Things happen in quick succession. Lovers try to elope, meet parents, break up, get back and try to elope again. Infused with very typical north Indian humor, the first half of the film is thoroughly enjoyable. It is only in the second half, where Rumi keeps going back to Vicky post her wedding and still can’t decide who to choose, is when the film starts become a tad tedious. The characters keep going in circles, making the plot appear repetitive after a moment. Of course, the big revelation, in the end, is one of the high points of the story but overall, the second half slackens the pace to quite an extent. They could cut short the film by half-an-hour easily.
The music by Amit Trivedi has already made quite an impact on the audience. There are a lot of songs and all are used in the background, to take the story forward.
‘Manmarziyaan’ is easily one of the sweetest films that Kashyap has made in his career. It’s fun and breezy but still has so many layers to it. The conflicts in one’s own mind, the confusion, and the dualities in one’s personality are all too real and relatable. No one is completely sorted in the head – not even Robbie- who may appear calculative and calm- but still pines for Rumi’s attention and breaks into a smile when Rumi accepts his friend request.
Watch ‘Manmarziyaan’ to celebrate love Rumi and Vicky style. Watch it for Robbie’s calmness. Watch it for its superb music. It is Anurag Kashyap's purest take on love. And it is all heart.