By Deepa Gahlot
A willful girl has just left her lover and married a man chosen by her family. Later, her grandfather asks her if it is okay and she replies, that the love has not ended and the marriage has not begun. It’s a problem many a woman faces, still, Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan is not able to create a complex or even likeable character out of his protagonist, Rumi (TaapseePannu).
Rumi is constantly irritable and rude to everyone except her grandfather. She gets into a volatile affair with a local DJ, Vicky (Vicky Kaushal), after meeting him on Tinder. But when it comes to commitment, he dithers. Surprisingly, for a woman who is so headstrong, she actually expects Vicky to look after her. When she bullies him into eloping, she asks him where they will live and on what? And he rightly replies with bafflement that it was her idea to run away. So Rumi comes across as the kind of hyprocrite who pretends to take the lead and then relinquishes responsibility.
Which is why her shocking meanness towards Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan), the gentle guy she agrees to marry after Vicky lets her down, makes her even less sympathetic. Filmmakers are seldom able to handle women who are truly unconventional, and their idea of bold is a woman, who smokes, drinks, is ill-mannered and inconsiderate.
Vicky tries to grow up, while Robbie gathers up his reserves of patience for a woman who talks to him only when she is slightly drunk. At one point she asks him, if he was always the “Ramji type.” As if decency is a flaw in a man.
Kashyap and his writer Kanika Dhillon capture the Amritsar language, sights, sounds and surprising broadmindedness. Nobody condemns Rumi outright for her bad behaviour; when caught with Vicky in her room, all her grandfather calmly tells Vicky is to wear his T-shirt right side out. No swords are brandished or family honour invoked.
Kashyap quirkily uses twin dancers as recurring motifs, in the song sequences—and Amit Trivedi’s music is a highlight. What fails the film is its predictable, done-before plot (Swami, Hum Dil De ChukeSanam, etc), and a woman who is all bluster, no substance—though TaapseePannu plays her with a vulnerability that is not written into her actions. Vicky Kaushal is marvellous as the man-child, but Abhishek Bachchan portraying the quiet strength of Robbie steals almost every scene he is in. Manmarziyaan is the kind of film that is watchable and disappointing at the same time— like so much of Kashyap’s work.
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: TaapseePannu, Abhishek Bachchan, Vicky Kaushal and others
Posted on Sep 14, 2018
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.