Manmarziyaan Movie Review - Are these actors for real?

By Mayank Shekhar | Mumbai

The relentless drama that follows, by the minute, in the lives of the volatile lead couple (Vicky Kaushal, Taapsee Pannu) in unhinged love, will make you feel thoroughly relieved about your own staid existence though.

Manmarziyaan

Manmarziyaan
U/A: Romance
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Tapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, Abhishek Bachchan
Rating:

This film starts off with a full-length song, or music video, if you may, with a pair of twins (a random motif that appears throughout), cracking it with their dance moves, setting the tone for what's supposed to be a musical, after all. The relentless drama that follows, by the minute, in the lives of the volatile lead couple (Vicky Kaushal, Taapsee Pannu) in unhinged love, will make you feel thoroughly relieved about your own staid existence though.

This is still the most sunshine, Imtiaz Ali film that Anurag Kashyap, from the heart of darkness, is ever likely to make. And it's not that Kashyap — currently scripting a career that easily places him among the finest Indian filmmakers ever — hasn't dealt with romance before.

His last film itself, Mukkabaaz (2017), was originally written as a boxing movie, that he then brilliantly turned into a love story. And how can you forget the stellar Dev.D (2009) — a Trainspotting type adaptation of Devdas, the most filmed Indian romance ever? Manmarziyaan is about two guys, and a girl, where none can seemingly have each other. Could you see it as an inversion of Devdas as well then? Long shot; maybe (hard to say).

At the core of this film though is that (Hum Dil Chuke Sanam, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi) cliché about why/how women inevitably fall for the uber-cool, 'bad boy' — meaning someone who's not, typically speaking, the sorted, sober 'husband material'. Which, by the way, is also the film's apt English title.

Strikingly competent, Amritsar-born Kanika Dhillon has written this script, fully soaked in Amritsari ghee, traversing its mohallas and gullies, as it explores the world of the confused young while parents progressively have less influence over their children finding life partners. Tinder perhaps works better for a perfect match. And young-blood infatuation (like love) has its own paagalpan, madness; even if it is relatively short-lived — certainly long enough to last the duration of this movie.

To give you a gist: Kaushal plays the 'bad boy', a lukkha, local DJ. Bachchan is the patient, well-meaning, good boy London banker. Pannu (on a roll, lately) is their object of affection. There's no better way to describe her feisty character than, as Bachchan puts it in the film: "Atom bomb" — explosive — that's really what her stunning, viscerally moving performance feels like.

Every second, she grabs you by the collar to look at her. And look at her some more. This is just as true for Kaushal (Sanju, Raazi, Lust Stories, Love Per Square Foot). Like this film, he seems to have completely owned this year as well.

Watch the trailer here:

Bachchan, so securely understated, has of course been off sets ever since Housefull 3 (2017), self-admittedly, to reset his acting goals. If the self-introspection has led him to Manmarziyaan — clearly he's thought well to be part of a film that is loved first, and even remembered as a result. His last such movie was Guru — way back in 2007.

Together the three actors add incredible zest, flesh, and energy to roles that compel you look at the world through each perspective, and probably even find oneself in it in some form. Not to take sides: Kaushal's character perhaps reflects best the current, lost, transient generation going through "complicated" relationships. It's also closest to a Kashyap character.

Speaking of which, how is this full-blown romance different from all other Kashyap films, since this is likely to be discussed among his core-base (of fan-boys, who rightly swear by his cinema)? To begin with, the script is distinctly divided into pre- and post-interval halves, which is common to most Bollywood films that, more often than not, suffer from the dreaded 'curse of the second half'.

Don't know whether you'll agree with the end (I wasn't particularly convinced). You'll certainly enjoy both halves (designed like separate pics). Also, expletives are consciously toned down (although the setting is Punjab). Even soft-drug use is mostly suggested — through ciggies, giggles, Animal Planet, and sight of food — than deeply focused on. It's all relatively saaf-suthra, you could say.

And what's mainstream, without some fantastic music — in this case, lots of Punjabi hip-hop from what, you can instantly tell, is a terrific Amit Trivedi soundtrack, with fun, pop-ish lyrics that I suspect will grow on an audience, once on repeat mode. Totally loved that line, "Dhyan kithe? Dhyan Chand!" Yup, your dhyan ought to be on this movie as well. Fully.

Also read: Vicky Kaushal on Manmarziyaan director: Anurag Kashyap doesn't let us rest in peace

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