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Manmarziyaan Review | A Consuming Modern Age Love Story (2018)

Manmarziyaan is an emotional ride that takes you through the vale of a contemporary Indian love story. It is a heart-rending tale that at times tears you apart, at times makes you smile and then most of the times have you choked inside. Manmarziyaan is dramatic throughout, and tries to give love a new school aura. It plays with people’s state of mind in a generation that is today’s, never leaving sight of what the very definition of love is supposed to be. So who does it absolute justice? Who is a clear winner here? None other than one of the most amazing and top game directors of Indian Cinema – Anurag Kashyap.

It is him all along who takes a cliched story that probably every other Indian household might have lived at one point, and turns it into something delectable. People tacking it against Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s dramatic 1999 musical Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in terms of its throbbing story probably had their reasons, but to be honest, both these movies stand tall in their own respective eras.

Love had a different definition back then, as opposed to now, wherein it has sucked in some voguish blood. But in the end, it all boils down to the presentation, the acting and whether or not a director is able to successfully elicit the right emotions from the audience. Fortunately for us, Manmarziyaan succeeds in hitting a home run.

Introducing Fyaar

Love is no longer confined to the boundaries of sex. The latter has gradually become an intrinsic part of love and times today demands and defies India to become progressive. The country has already begun to shed its skin of judgment surrounding all things physical. People are becoming broad-minded and open to this inevitable change that is helping them to be more accepting of their own bodies.

still of Tapsee Pannu and Vicky Kaushal in Manmarziyaan

Anurag plays the fiddle of ‘Fyaar’ in Manmarziyaan which is like this new definition of love with sex being an integral part of it. He is trying to change that typical conventional Indian perspective where love used to be confined to romantic words, or people disappearing behind the trees, or flowers nudging against each other or birds flying into the sunset. What would happen after used to be kept under the wraps. But to Kashyap, it is it, in its most natural and realistic form even if it could disgust people. He challenges them to be bold enough to deal with it. He impels them to open their eyes because they have stayed hidden a long time. Say things out loud for a change. There’s nothing wrong in it after all!

As someone behind the wheels, being on the pedestal of influence, and socially responsible for dictating the thought process of the multitude, Anurag Kashyap does fairly well. He lets this new precept of romance slither into its newly discovered form and helps one understand that sometimes mistakes are fine. That it is its realization that is important. That you could try different lives until it suits you and hence the title – Manmarziyaan.

Songs in Manmarziyaan

Songs Manmarziyaan has are simply next level. A lot of thought has been put into the lyrics as well. You could tell how intense they are when you listen to them carefully. When you decode the language you sense the poetry behind it and register how melting and meticulous the writing really has been. They reflect the mood of the characters in the story and complement them phenomenally. Some of them are so exhilarating and intense that goosebumps naturally ensue.

Our country is going through a phase right now. The millennials have taken over and the very idea of love is finding inspiration from the West. As one of its songs suggest –

“Ghise pitey version nu maaro update”

meaning you gotta update your daft and traditional definitions of love with time.

There are so immensely poetic lines in some of these lyrics like:

Kaisi raah pe naseeba khada chupchaap sa takkey munh mera

meaning fate stands on some road ahead watching me silently. I mean these writers are simply amazing.

You can’t overlook the song “Hallaa” which is another great song, which plays at a juncture that stimulates your body. You feel the exact numbness that the character of Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan) experiences at his life’s turning point. Then the song Grey Walaa Shade is absolutely delightful too.

Tapsee Pannu as Rumi Bagga (Spoilers)

Goes without saying, Tapsee Pannu is the girl around which the story revolves. She is phenomenal as her character of Rumi playing it with an uncontrived feel and Gosh! she looks convincing. There is this reckless innocence in her words and acts that it is hard not to fall in love with her. On being asked if she has a question in her mind for her fiance, she puckers her lips thinks for a while before asking:

Are you on Tinder?

She is such a good actor that watching her cry brings tears to your eyes. Not to mention that’s a thorough long shot that lets the audience connect.

Most challenging bits lie in her daunting decisions, the part where she has a hard time letting go of Vicky Sandhu (Vicky Kaushal) who used to be a constant until he fails to show up on one too many occasions. Not ready to marry Rumi fearing commitment he lets her go instead. Rumi finding no choice but to move on decides to let him burn in the muck of his doing. Little things like sleeping with Robbie for the sake of revenge and punishing Vicky for his cowardice, paint a picture of her mindset and you could tell how mad she is. Yet, there is a part of her that forever secretly wishes amends.

Not knowing where things are going to lead, she keeps rowing both the boats she is on. Ultimately things aggravate, that’s when she comes to a decision, and an apt one too.

Vicky Kaushal as Vicky Sandhu

The Masaan movie debutant Vicky Kaushal is that quintessential good-for-nothing dreamer who seems to be not serious for anything in life. Asking to be decisive up young, Rumi has his world toppled over. As a guy who is not looking to get serious so young, and who has his dreams to fulfill first, Vicky can’t be pinned down.

Vicky Kaushal in Manmarziyaan

But then Rumi keeps moving forward with her marital prospects which forces Vicky to get serious for a while. They try to run away too. But looking at how Vicky hasn’t thought anything through they end up coming back. Failing to take responsibility twice Rumi is flung into a spiralling dilemma, and she takes up a bold step of marrying a stranger.

Kaushal’s acting is just next level, evident in the very beginning of the movie when he gets caught red-handed and he tries to play it cool with everyone he keeps meeting. Also, the part where he gets offended by Rumi’s curses and gives a ranting of his own. You realize the screenplay of the movie is indeed good, and has that taste of natal dialect that is forever present in Kashyap movies.

Abhishek Bachchan as Robbie Bhatia

What comes as a stunner in the entire film is Abhishek Bachchan as Robbie. His character of Robbie is so perceptive and grim that you relate the most with this epitome of sanity. It is almost as if Anurag was aiming for this guy to have a little bit of him, the real winner who understands the way of the world and how things work, and how to remain calm and observe more.

He is gazing, judging, discerning and taciturn. But he is just so human too. Falling for Rumi right from the moment he set his eyes on her, and willing to fight for her, by hook or by crook. He even knowingly and selfishly swoops in to take her away from a love story that he could have helped prosper. His mindset gets addressed in the end and it is good that it does, or it would have been like a smudge on his collar.

Robbie is no hero. No. He is just human, with equal intensity to feel malice as any human would. But his bubble gets burst for the first time when he finds Rumi failing to reply to the question:

When Robbie makes love to you, do you close your eyes and think about me? Or do you keep your eyes open to look at him?

Robbie realizes for the first time how wrong he was in taking that decision of going after Rumi. Abhishek Bachchan becomes his father then, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan bringing the same amount of intensity and energy if not more to deliver one of his best performances in the entire movie then. You feel the wrath, the disgust he has been holding all this time in his heart and he spews it out to a conclusion.

still of Abhishek Bachchan and Tapsee Pannu in Manmarziyaan

Other Characters in Manmarziyaan

Amongst other fabulous actors, you cannot overlook the work of Saurabh Sachdeva as Kaka Ji in Manmarziyaan. He is a really talented hard worker who is still very underrated in the film industry. His expressions as this comic character who is trying really hard to sell products to his client are simply priceless. You can’t marvel enough at how convincingly he portrays his character building him from scratch as one of those societal entities who make a living on commissions.

Other prominent actors constitute Arun Bali as Daji who gives a very serious and helpless perspective to the story. He wishes the best for Rumi but is like a silent observer. On asking Rumi if she is fine, this is what she says:

Pyaar khatam nahi hua. Shaadi shuru nahi hui.

Robbie’s mother Neelu Kohli is everyone’s mother. She is innocent in her ways when she tries to make sense out of a situation and her advice is filled with some unseen long lost pain:

Ye purane chakkar na sab bhool jaate hain.

The final shot in the movie is a long continuous shot that is simply superlative. There are so many words spoken that it wouldn’t be just, if I were to discuss it here. But that’s a rad ending and very apt even though it seems it’s too late. It never is.

still of Abhishek Bachchan and Tapsee Pannu in Manmarziyaan

The Meaning of Twins in Manmarziyaan

What complements many of the songs in the movie are Poonam and Priyanka Shah‘s next to perfect dance moves. They are always dancing in unison, often providing frames to complete and bedeck a song. For a second you almost feel, since Shahs are a big deal in the dancing world, they were picked by Kashyap first and then weaved later on into the tale to go with the songs. But then you see them show up at different places and you know there is something profound and allegorical going on in the flick.

Anurag Kashyap seems to be experimenting with his films too sometimes introducing elements that are ridden with metaphors. He doesn’t do it too much or would lose a big chunk of Indian mainstreamers. The introduction of these twins at certain places are reflective of the mindset of the characters in the movie. It seems as if he was going for something inventive akin to what we had seen in Paterson. I tried to analyze it a bit:

These twins in the movie reflect the state of mind of its lead character Rumi.
There are two faces to Rumi like yin and yang, like two halves of her heart. We see them in the very beginning of Manmarziyaan dancing in exultation. Then the second time when Rumi is really miffed, when she is angry at Vicky. That’s when we see the twins again, but this time they are not smiling but a little angry and confused just like Rumi. Then we see them dancing in joy at her friend’s wedding. The jubilation returns!

One strange juncture where we see them both is when Robbie is drunk in a bar. He finds them both staring at him confused. It is symbolic of how he for a second, in his drunken stupor, has a clarity of vision where he registers both of these two characters of Rumi, as if seeing Rumi for who she really is – a perfect blend of her two halves. But when the bartender shakes him up, meaning makes him return to the reality, one of them moves behind the other, as in one disappears and then Robbie is able to see only one side of her. It means he once again fails to see for who she really is, and sees only a half of her.

Male Twins

Then we see two random male twins silently looking at Rumi pass during their honeymoon. Up until now, we were watching the movie from Rumi’s perspective, and hence we kept witnessing the Shahs. But it is a distant land and these two males are not Rumi’s projections but some random unrequited guy’s projection (hence male) who just like Rumi had come up there to cry.

Sadi sacchi mohabbat kacchi reh gayi.

There is a moment of clarity in the end for Rumi when she realizes that it is Robbie that she wants and she runs to look for him. That’s when we see the Shah twins happily gorging on pani puris as if giving a nod to her for her right decision. Her two halves brimming with joy. And then later on we see them despair holding their glasses of lassi looking at Rumi as if saying “Tick tock, tick tock!” asking her to do the right thing.

There are other genius things in the movie you can’t overlook either. Like Vicky’s dad Sandhu. We barely see him in the movie. He is like a cameo. But words by him are like every parent ever. These are truthful words but cliched. They make fun of you, try to give an advice, based on their experience. Sometimes really hurtful but force you to do a certain thing. Sandhu is not properly shown. The vantage is always kept of Vicky like a word of advice that rings in his head reminding him of all his mistakes and directing him to a place which he reluctantly picks.

Issues

My biggest complaint would be the way Manmarziyaan begins. You don’t feel the chemistry between these two actors for there hasn’t been a past shown, like their gradual falling in love. It delves in way too quickly and then directly skips forward to Rumi’s anger. The music even though superb feels like a disconnect. Because we don’t feel the turmoil because we haven’t known these characters. But soon it picks up pace,¬†with the inclusion of Robbie to the story.

Vicky gets lost in the latter half. He is manifested so less that you are forever wishing Robbie to end up with the girl without a competition. Even though Vicky could have been just as good, his screen time was edited so much that it felt as if the director deliberately chose to direct us to the story he was more interested in. Some real competition would have done both these characters equal justice.

The Final Verdict

Whoever decides to watch a movie based on what the world has reviewed should try to change this very inevitable habit about themselves. Why am I saying this? Because I had let their views influence me. I had dropped my guard, but as a secret admirer of Anurag Kashyap’s works I had decided to watch the movie anyway. Now that I have seen the movie, I feel sorry for not coming across Manmarziyaan earlier.

It is a gem of a movie that deserves your immediate attention. Go watch at once!

Check out the trailer of Manmarziyaan here:

Manmarziyaan

0.00
7.7

Direction

7.9/10

Plot

7.5/10

Editing

7.4/10

Screenplay

7.6/10

Drama

8.1/10

Pros

  • Great Direction
  • Outstanding Drama
  • Great Acting
  • Brilliant Screenplay

Cons

  • Vicky feels deliberately blurred by the end
  • Drags a little
Summary
Review Date
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Manmarziyaan
Author Rating
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