Hindi Reviews

Manmarziyaan Review: An Old Plot With A Modern Twist

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Director: Anurag Kashyap

Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, Abhishek Bachchan

Composer: Amit Trivedi

The ever-so-confident Scarlett O’Hara pined after the nebulous and unattainable Ashley Wilkes thinking that it was the one true love of her life. But when the road to claim Ashley cleared, she realised her rock was Rhett Butler – the beau-turned-husband who steadied her every time she faltered. Thwarted by John Willoughby, the vivacious Jane Austen heroine, Marianne Dashwood comes to her senses and picks the boring but stable Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Maya (Padmini Kolhapure) of Woh Saat Din, Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) of Tanu Weds Manu have similar motivations when they distance themselves from their tempestuous relationships and embrace their placid marriage. Rumi, Anurag Kashyap’s heroine in Manmarziyaan, too arrives at the same conclusion but through an extremely tumultuous, winding and at times exasperating route.

If the mystic poet, Rumi’s words are all about harmony and serenity, then Rumi in Manmarziyaan, played by Taapsee Pannu, is jagged and discordant.

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Rumi is neither ambitious nor does she have any clarity about all the things that she wants from life. All she knows is to love Vicky a.k.a. DJ Sandz, played by Vicky Kaushal, with a passion so fierce that she is willing to abandon everything to get the happily ever after with him. But theirs is a romance that is isolated and confined to closed spaces and not where they get to walk into the sunset hand in hand. Vicky will climb over fences and terraces to make fyaar (sex in this case) to Rumi, make passionate declarations of his pyaar (love) in bed, but lacks the courage or the conviction to formally ask for Rumi’s hand. Thus starts a self-destructive and often tiresome will-they-won’t-they ride especially after London banker Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan) enters the scene as Rumi’s suitor. It’s up to Rumi to choose between wild, passionate, once-in-a-lifetime love and sedate, non-dramatic and mature marriage.

Manmarziyaan certainly doesn’t have the most original plot, but the film is elevated by impressive performances – Anurag Kashyap’s strength in creating moments infused with humour and everyday quirks and an edgy background score by Amit Trivedi. Vicky Kaushal is impressive as the ditsy Vicky whose swagger and bravado is only skin deep. He maintains a facade with his bleached mohawk and tacky t-shirts, but even the slightest criticism breaks him. He repeatedly flakes out on Rumi despite the long promises. The practical mind asks why Rumi keeps going back to him? Well, Vicky Kaushal’s performance convinces you that Vicky of Manmarziyaan is worth fighting for. Abhishek Bachchan has a quiet presence throughout. His Robbie is described as the Ramji type, a man who never raises his voice. After a two-year hiatus, Abhishek looks comfortable in a film that doesn’t have a definite hero.

It’s Rumi, around whom the film pivots, who’s hard to love. She is a bundle of contradictions. She is defiant, outspoken yet she keeps hurling herself on a self-destructive path without the slightest provocation. She shows affection towards her husband by frying his favourite pakodas for him. And why must a strong, modern woman be always portrayed as carelessly smoking, swearing, drinking or engaging in casual sex? Can a woman not be strong and rebellious without indulging in any of these activities?

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But Manmarziyaan, written by Kanika Dhillon, offers a myopic vision of its woman protagonist. In a decisive moment in their relationship, Rumi tells Vicky that their passion is not enough to keep them happy together as he is not ready for marriage and she clearly has some figuring out to do. Briefly, you are led to think that this is Rumi’s coming-of-age moment, alas that’s not the case. She does an about-turn and runs into the arms of another man to seek validation.

Anurag Kashyap’s directorial is a tale of modern romance. Couples meet on Tinder, a wife professes her love by sending her husband a friend request on Facebook, there is no space for the concept of there’s-one-true-love, and love and sex are not bound by any rules. You make the rules as you go – that’s Manmarziyaan in a nutshell.

*****

The Manmarziyaan review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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