Anurag Kashyap’s labour of love is mercurial, colourful and liberating- Vijayalakshmi Narayanan
Who would’ve thought that a director, who for the most part of his career piggybacked on darkness and mayhem to give us hard-hitting yet ground-breaking cinema, would know a thing or two about making a film on love and relationships, a genre that is mostly candy-flossed and shot in dreamy locations, courtesy his contemporaries. Yes, Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, I’m looking at you.
‘Manmarziyaan’ is director Anurag Kashyap’s labour of love that is mercurial, colourful and liberating. Sculpted out of creative producer Kanika Dhillon’s refreshing script, the clichéd formula of love triangles gets an edgier twist. We see three different perspectives of love through its principle characters. Rumi Bagga (Taapsee Pannu) is a headstrong former state-level hockey champion, who is head-over-heels in Fyaar with Vicky Sandhu aka DJ Sandzz (Vicky Kaushal), a struggling musician, who is trying to discover his calling but is content with spending all his time balcony-hopping to make love to Rumi. Their train-wrecking relationship gets discovered, family pressures build in and responsibility comes knocking at the door. When Vicky develops cold feet, Rumi resolves to marry the guy, her family chooses for her. Enter Robbie Bhatia (Abhishek Bachchan), a straight-laced banker from London, who gives into his family’s whims of seeing him married and approves of Rumi’s prospects at first sight, inspite of knowing that there is another man in her life. What happens when their worlds collide makes up for the rest of the film.
Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room. This is no ‘Dhadkan’, ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ or even ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, as hailed by netizens online. That itself makes ‘Manmarziyaan’ watchable and outstanding from every other love triangle attempted in the past. While we are supposed to empathise with Rumi and Vicky’s innocent romance, Robbie is no bystander. Much credit to that goes to Dhillon’s nicely layered screenplay which is well-peppered with dialogues that are relatable, hilarious and inspiring. What’s unique is how the film attempts to question the validation and credibility of love, through the tinted lenses of the society. Music composer Amit Trivedi gives us a winning album in ages that compliments the film’s narrative. ‘Dhayaanchand’ ‘Daryaa’ and ‘Chonch Ladiyaan’ clearly take the cake. Cinematographer Sylvester Fonseca seeps in the beauty of Amritsar through his camera. Meghna Gandhi’s production design adds the much needed colour that we’ve been seeking from Kashyap’s films since ‘Dev D’. The only bummer here is the editing by Aarti Bajaj. Blame that on Kashyap being a tad bit too indulgent in his subject that the movie stretches to a sluggish 155 minutes.
That you are not easily bored and you remain invested in the film till the end, is to the credit of its three primary leads. Kashyap, who has often been accused of reducing his heroines to mere moles in his films, gives us a full-blooded, unabashed act in Rumi. Taapsee, who clearly defies all the clichéd Hindi film heroine norms, gives us a spirited performance, worth rooting for. Rumi isn’t a particularly likeable character. Taapsee is entrusted with making the audience understand her and she makes the effort worth it. Vicky as DJ Sandzz comes across as the man-child prototype yet he makes the most matured decision towards the intermission of the film, with ease. How he portrays the most complex emotions with the use of his doe-like eyes is a secret he beholds. Speaking of Abhishek, let’s firstly welcome him back with open arms. The actor seems to have a lot to thank his much-discussed sabbatical for. For he redefines the good guy as Robbie. He doesn’t cut a sorry figure yet he makes you want to reach out and hug him when he faces the ugly truth. The other supporting characters pitched in by casting director Mukesh Chhabra are commendable too. Especially, Arun Bali as the grandfather, Saurabh Sachdeva (recently seen in ‘Sacred Games’ as Suleiman Isa) as Kakaji, Ashnoor Kaur as Rumi’s cousin sister and Vikram Kochhar as Robbie’s Man Friday. Maybe, it’s high time that Indian awards recognise a category for casting directors too.
If old wine bottled anew can be this uninhibited and celebrating then ‘Manmarziyaan’ is surely worth your time and money. As Rihanna correctly put it in her song, ‘And I can’t get enough, must be love on the brain’. Love remains the pertinent question as the end credits roll.