This one follows the heart!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Sep 2018 10:34:06




By Farina Salim Quraishi,

Bollywood and love triangles have had a grand and entirely overlong association. So much so that every combination and permutation in the three-hearted saga has been much used, misused and abused even to an annoying degree. So when Anurag Kashyap, known for his dark cine-magic, waded into the tried and tested genre - which is far, far away from his impressive body of work - hope was raised of seeing a truly different, dramatic, even if a little dark love triangle. More so since it was populated by talented young stars including the electric Taapsee Pannu and enigmatic Vicky Kaushal. While dramatic Manmarziyaan sure is with sombre overtones too, but the hopes of seeing a different angle keep cresting and troughing all along the 150-odd minute-long saga.

Chronicling the life of three diverse characters, Manmarziyaan starts with Rumi (Taapsee Pannu), an orphan who lives with her family, in lust and love (in that order) with Vicky Sandhu (Vicky Kaushal). Vicky, DJ Sandz if you will, is a confused and irresponsible yo-yo, who is commitment phobic to boot. Trouble arrives in buckets after Rumi’s aunt walks in on Rumi’s and Vicky’s ‘Fyaar’ (love that involves the physical overtures).

Rumi is given an ultimatum by the family to select a husband and settle down. Rumi remains unfazed, not realising that Vicky is commitment phobic, and confidently gives her word that Vicky would come the next day and ask for her hand in marriage, if not she will marry the first boy of their choice. Of course, Vicky bails out and doesn’t turn up. Rumi. true to her word, agrees to marry Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan), a London-based banker selected by the family. However, with her heart overruling her head, Rumi forgives Vicky and demands he elopes with her. They do, but she realises that Vicky is not mature enough to take responsibility for their love. She retraces her steps and bids Vicky goodbye.

With one step in Robbie’s life as his wife and another in Vicky’s heart, Rumi vacillates between the two, letting her heart and hormones rule her life.  Despite the profusion of colours in Manmarziyaan, it is the greys of the movie which stand out-- vividly. Not one of the overwhelmingly compelling characters is entirely black or even white for that matter. They constantly oscillate between being good, bad and ugly; pulled in different directions by their hearts and heads, making the best of the hand dealt to them.

Writer Kanika Dhillon has etched out reality in Manmarziyaan and it’s a joy to see the progononists struggling to find their footing in the uncertainty called life. There is no ideal romance here, no forced conflicts or even a grand big ‘qurbaani’ of Pyaar which will solve everything. Only real life with its practical problems. The characters are flawed, they falter, they fail, fall flat on their face even, however it is these very failings that is the biggest triumph of the film.

Sure the external trappings of the movie are as clichéd as they come and will be reminiscent of several Bollywood love stories, but the emotional core of the Gen X love saga is surprising. Matters of hearts can be messy and it is Anurag Kashyap’s sensibilities as a director that show us how complicated love can be. A realistic version of modern love, Manmarziyaan treads unsure grounds of indecision and self-doubt in an age where love is about finding your soul mate with either a left or a right swipe. The ups and downs of a romantic relationship, raging hormones, the societal pressure, and the elephant in the room, ‘Fyaar’ are explored unflinchingly.

The mellifluous melodies of Amit Trivedi are almost a character in the film and an extension of the narrative. Right from, Dhyan Chand to Sacchi Mohabbat, to even Daryaan all mesh seamlessly into the plot. However, with 12 songs and most of them playing to full length, it is a classic case of too much of a good thing. The songs soon start grating on your nerves and the sluggish pace of the movie post-interval doesn’t help matters. Clocking in nearly 158 minutes, Manmarziyaan meanders one time too many in the stunningly shot by-lanes of Amritsar, before coming to a predictable halt.

Among the superlative performances, it is Taapsee Pannu as Rumi who deserves the loudest applause. Bringing an endearing chutzpa to the very well written role, Taapsee is stunning as Rumi. She is feisty, fiery and completely unapologetic about her decisions, and whether one finds them right or wrong is entirely their problem! As an exasperated character asks, “Kaun hai yeh?!” and the subsequent answer, “Atom Bomb”; fits Rumi to a T.

Convincingly docile as she is domineering, Taapsee lets her eyes do quite a lot of talking in Manmarziyaan. Her eyes flash fire when she is raging mad, widen when demanding empathy and even dim down when she is distressed.  Vicky Kaushal shines strong and brings alive the inherent madness of his character. He is a live-wire with his punkish trappings - the spiked hair and colourful t-shirts - and is equally mesmerising in his vulnerable and helpless avatar.

Abhishek Bachchan underplays his role beautifully and is competent as the silent but strong loving husband. Even his quietly angry outburst when pushed against the wall is anything but perfect. But the scenes which require him to open up reveals his weaknesses and he struggles with the hidden nuances of his character. With a little something for both die-hard romantics and the rebels in love, Manmarziyaan is a heart-warming saga about love in the app-age.

The Hitavada Rating: OOO