Produced by: Aanand L. Rai, Vikas Bahl, Madhu Mantena and Vikramaditya Motwane
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Written by: Kanika Dhillon
Music: Amit Trivedi
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, Ashnoor Kaur, Arun Bali, Neetu Kohli, Saurabh Sachdeva, Vikram Kochhar, Sukhmani Sadana, Poonam Shah, Priyanka Shah, and others.
“Manmarziyaan” is the least violent Anurag Kashyap film till date. In this film, there are no action scenes, not a single fighting scene. But this film dealt with another type of violence – emotional and verbal violence, encountered by young people in real life. This film also depicts the magical power of forgiveness.
In the colourful backdrop of Amritsar, Rumi (Taaspee Pannu) and Vicky (Vicky Kaushal) are involved in Fayaar (carnal love) and probably deep love (real love). The family pressures Rumi to settle down with a ‘suitable’ husband, but Rumi wants Vicky to bring his parents and ask her hand in marriage. But their plan doesn’t work. So Rumi gets married to Robbi (Abhishek Bachchan), who is a banker and has recently returned from England.
Vicky has financial constraints and he is not ready to take up responsibilities that come with getting married. The film is a perfect example of the experimental nature of a director, whose description helps you get a deeper insight into a character’s psychology. In its 150-odd minutes, the film’s story does not seem to move forward but leaks through the sides instead. In the middle of the film, you might lose track of the events. Things happen out of nowhere, the way they do in Bollywood movies sometimes, but never in real life. This is a rare film but its made with uncertainty and characters seem to be second-guessing themselves.
The film tries to describe the life of a free-spirited young girl and her complicated love story. Kashyap, working with screenwriter Kanika Dhillon, composer Amit Trivedi and photographer Sylvester Fonseca, seems to have lost himself in the food and graffiti of Amritsar and possibly the slang language of the youth. To work inflow is good, but it seems overwhelming sometimes especially the dancing twins that appear in the music sequences that feel fake even when they are intended to describe Rumi’s dual nature. The nature documentary about the season of simian sex during the first night of the couple was a smart gag, in the otherwise dull movie.
It is through Robbie, a contestant for the best boy in Hindi film history, that the film has an emotional breakthrough. When Rumi starts warming up to him (it takes a drunken scene, which is a step away from usual Bachchan), Robbie slowly starts getting a hold of his feelings too. “I am happy in this relationship,” he argues. “Why are we discussing this?” – “Because the discussion is good,” he replies. This perhaps is this year’s most sensible dialogue from a Hindi movie.
All this leads to the remarkable final scene. There is no potentially deadly punch, nor a disintegrated body or a bullet-ridden corpse – which is unlikely for an Anurag Kashyap movie. There is only an extended walk and talk, where some issues are resolved and others are wisely left alone. This scene is beautifully written and the acting is great. But a slo-mo shot in one of the music sequences seems like a betrayal to the mood the film is trying to set.
“Mukkabaaz” which was released earlier this year, it was a tough film with a soft centre. In this drama about an aspiring boxer by Kashyap, the unanticipated tenderness of the central romance steals the show. While there is no doubt about the depth of Robbie’s feelings for Rumi, the audience was unable to feel the connection.
Hindi cinema has struggled to portray the romance of the social media generation, a brilliant example is an old director who made “Befikre”(2016). He terribly fails to connect with the youth and their idea of romance. But “Manmarzian” feels close to the messy reality of youth romance. The central pair hooks up on tinder and removes the app from each other’s phone later. As one of the songs in the film urges: “Zamana hai badla/ mohabbat bhi badli/ ghise pite version nu/ maaro update” ( times have changed/ love’s changed too/ antiquated versions/ need to be updated).