Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Abhishek Bachchan, Vicky Kaushal
Direction: Anurag Kashyap
The Bollywood love triangle – an arrangement that involves the almost impossible task of choosing between passion and stability – makes another notable appearance, this time helmed by a man better known for profanity-laced, bullet-driven shootouts.
For once, Anurag Kashyap steers clear of the dark alleys he frequents in his works and instead forays into a universe of uncertainty, ‘emotional atyachar’ and complicated hearts.
The plotline follows ‘Rumi’ (Taapsee Pannu), who is torn between an intense lover and a pragmatist who promises to be ideal husband material. Whom does she choose? Where does the decision lead her?
‘Rumi’ is the typically feisty Punjabi kudi. Headstrong, uninhibited and impulsive, when she’s caught making out with her boyfriend, she’s adamantly announces her intention to marry him. Later, let down by the aspiring DJ, who never seems to get his act together, she agrees to marry anyone the family deems fit.
In record time, the family finds an eligible bachelor. He is willing to let bygones be bygones and has his heart set on marrying ‘Rumi’, although his own parents are not very keen on an alliance.
Even as we join the households in preparation for an impending wedding, we wonder if it will all go down the predictable path. Indian males, however, find it impossible to accept a ‘no’. They are, in fact, reinvigorated in their efforts of pursuing girls who want nothing to do with them and want to settle down with somebody else.
What ensues is a tale of jilted lovers, broken hearts and family tamashaas as the three principal protagonists try to figure out what they really want.
Kashyap being Kashyap, there are no black and whites – this is a love story with lots of grey areas. The yarn doesn’t stop spinning once it is decided who the girl will get married to; unresolved emotions ensure that conflict and unforeseen complications continue to rule the day.
The resolute determination with which Tapsee essays her tole forms the backbone of the presentation. The way she carries herself almost convinces the audience that she knows what she wants or that once she has made her decision, she will stick to it. But as the script unspools, one realizes that she too is not as sorted out as she appears to be.
While she is right in calling out her boyfriend’s immature behavior, she herself is indecisive when it comes to standing up for what she believes is right for her.
Abhishek Bachchan, the most balanced of the three main characters, is refreshingly sincere and convincing. This role gives him a chance to explore a personality that is mature, restrained, yet a whole lot of fun. His silence conveys more than dialogues and your heart goes out to this guy, who wants to make it work but must also learn to let it all go.
The weak link in this tale for me was Vicky Kaushal. I have a huge appreciation for the roles that Kaushal has pulled off in films such as ‘Raazi’ and ‘Sanju’. I think he has immense potential. His portrayal in ‘Manmarziyan’, however, seemed labored. His act seems over-the-top in parts and his angst doesn’t come across as genuine.
The best moments are the exchanges between Taapsee and Abhishek. These are subtle and endearing. What doesn’t come through is the searing chemistry that the lovers (Taapse and Vicky) want to convey. The desire and the need to yield to it isn’t palpable.
Kashyap’s ‘Dev D’ about complicated hearts was in comparison a far superior film to this one.
Despite the flaws and a somewhat longish runtime, ‘Manmarziyan’ does have its moments. Watch it for Taapsee and Abhishek. If you ever had a tough time making up your mind about whom to love and found yourself being overruled by the heart time and again, this one is for you.