Love is one of the most complicated feelings to explain. This is one emotion that sees no wrong or right. As Geet (Jab We Met) stated it, “Jab koi pyaar mei hota hai toh sahi galat nahi hota.” That’s the precise of Manmarziyaan. When you imagine an Anurag Kashyap world, you think of darkness, of abuses, of guns and bullets. Manmarziyaan is far from all of this and for him, is a new arena, a new genre, a new kind of filmmaking that he deals with. But does he succeed? Along with writer and creative producer, Kanika Dhillon, he gives us a film that you’ll love, because at the end of the day, love triumphs.
Evidently, the film is about a love triangle, between Rumi, Vicky and Robbie, each character having a distinct voice, each character written really well. When the film starts, Rumi (Taapsee Pannu) and Vicky (Vicky Kaushal) are already so much in love. But they’re not really aware of everything around them, and don’t have the vision to see if this fyaar-pyaar relationship has the capability of turning into marriage. The others around them – their families – see that this is a relationship that won’t necessarily materialise into marriage but they’re ready for it. There also are times (plural) when Rumi and Vicky run away from home, but come back, only to drag Robbie into this complex relationship. So, after Rumi gives up on Vicky due to his non-commitment, she is engaged to marry Robbie, and she does.
The first half of the film is written to perfection. There is a great amount of conflict, amazing performances and brilliant story telling. But the second half takes a dip, and goes way too slow. The only thing consistent between both the halves are the characters and performances.
Rumi leads this narrative. She’s a hockey player, she’s hot headed, and very instinctive. Bandi aisi hai ki Kashmir mei, when it’s very very cold, she goes out for a run, with earphones on. And Taapsee Pannu gives her everything to this character. From the look to the expressions to the dialect, there isn’t one thing about her skill that makes you doubt for a second that there could’ve been a better Rumi. It’s almost like she’s lived this character in real life, she’s that natural.
Following her lead, and matching up to her level of madness (for the art) is Vicky Kaushal as Vicky or DJ Sandz, who is commitment phobic. When Vicky and Rumi are caught red handed, her family suggests they get married or Rumi shall marry someone else. So when he has to meet Rumi’s family, he doesn’t show up. He has the fear that Rumi will marry someone else, but is so much in a fix himself, that the world outside of him doesn’t really matter to him at that moment. Kaushal brings all these nuances of Vicky to the screen as if he too, like Pannu, has lived this character. But unlike Pannu, who shines even in scenes where she’s alone on screen, Kaushal mostly shines with Taapsee around him. But there are also scenes when he’s alone and brilliant! Like when he’s waiting for Rumi outside her house on the day of her mehendi. Nevertheless, it sure is a great performance.
The third character, Robbie, is a really well written character. He’s Vanraj from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, but in 2018, with a lot of grey inside him. He’s head strong about the fact that he’s in love with Rumi, and will marry her even if she can’t love him back, because in her words, “pyaar toh ho jaega yaar.” Unfortunately, Abhishek Bachchan doesn’t have the complete caliber to pull this off. It’s good to see him on screen again – he’s looking great and even does some scenes really well, like Kaushal, with Taapsee. But in the emotional moments, his graph falls down and he loses momentum.
There is a particular scene in the film when Rumi is just running in Kashmir and she reaches a point, a river bank, where she just squats to the ground and cries her heart out. This scene broke my heart. But, the best part about her is that she isn’t looking for your sympathy, she doesn’t want you to comfort her. She knows she’s a badass and her comfort lies in eating teekhe gol gappe.
The use of Kashmir as a honeymoon spot is very smart. To show that when there can be chaos in such a beautiful, untouched place, in the lap of nature, there will be chaos in all our lives. Yet the mountains stand tall but we fall to the ground, just as Rumi does, and returns back home halfway into her honeymoon with Robbie.
When the trailer of the film came out and I realised Pannu’s character was named Rumi, I was sure this is going to be a music blast and it is! Hats off to Amit Trivedi for not only making soulful songs, but also such that blend into the narrative. Though Darya did play too much, too often in the background but it’s okay! Sachi Mohbbat and Jaisi Teri Marzi remain my favourites though.
All in all, Manmarziyaan is an out and out Taapsee Pannu lead film, but Vicky Kaushal is a delight to watch, as always! This isn’t your usual rom-com or love triangle. It’s new, unusual…