Mamarziyaan Movie Review: Unchained Melody!

 

manmar1Very rarely do one get to witness a stand out climax in our romantic dramas like the one we see in Manmarziyaan. One that is sans the melodrama or the cliché settings (say like an airport or a railway station). It is something wonderfully set up by director Anurag Kashyap, who for a change grapples here with something more mainstream.

But the ending is only part of the tale. For first, you must reach there. And unfortunately, for that you need to tread a path that is familiar – as familiar as the Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam template, or the Rab Ne Banadi Jodi ones. Or for those familiar with South movies, as back as the Mani Rathnam classic Mouna Raagam or an Antha Ezhu Naatkal (remade in Hindi as Woh Saat Din).  Here too, we watch as a young woman fall in and out of love, leaving the men in her life to helplessly sit back and watch as she sorts out the messy affairs of her heart.

The lady is none other than Rumi (Taapsee Pannu). She is a happy go lucky, free spirited young woman who likes to live life on her terms. Rumi has no qualms in sneaking in over her boyfriend Vicky and indulging in some ‘f-yaar’ away from the eyes of her family members. But when her folks do find out, she immediately takes control of the situation stating that she wants to marry her Tinder find. She even promises that if her boyfriend fails to show up with his parents formally with an alliance, she is willing to be the sacrificial ‘donkey’ and shall be up for an arranged marriage with any idiot who her family deems right.

That is the confidence she shows in her lover. But little does she know him. Vicky Sandhu (a terrific Vicky Kaushal) is a hopeless irresponsible bloke, a DJ by profession, is so in love with Rumi that he can leap rooftops for his love but the first to run away from any talk of commitment and marriage. He is the kind who is all set to elope with his girl, but without a penny in his pocket. And most of the first half is spent with Rumi trying to get some sense into the guy’s head and get him to be serious about their relationship in a more responsible manner for once.

Enter Rajbir aka Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan) , a investment banker from London, in town looking for prospective brides. But when the marriage broker shows him a pic of Rumi, he is immediately fixated on the woman. Despite being aware of her torrid affair with the Dj dude, Robbie still decides to risk things on an alliance with Rumi.

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Anurag Kashyap thus brings these three diverse characters into the setting of middle -class Punjab to give you this bold take on the above-mentioned template. The loud Bhansali style Gujarati setting of Hum Dil De…,makes way for a subtler Punjabi one.

It is important to note how Kashyap and writer Kannika opts to keep the script free of any villains. Therefore you do not see the usual scheming family members or the screaming babu-jis in this one. In fact, all of Rumi’s family appear to be supportive of any decision that Rumi makes, that is she if makes up her mind. Having lost her parents at an earlier age, she cleverly manipulates things to her advantage with her aunts, uncles and grandfather to get whatever she desires. And as much as reckless and rebellious, she is also shown someone to be attached to things that she holds dear and near. Notice how she wears her father’s shirt when she goes to ask Vicky to propose to her.

But Rumi is as complex a character that can be, volatile and affectionate in equal measures and Taapsee Pannu has absolutely nailed this one. In what is easily her career best performance, Taapsee is in full control over her multi-faceted character. She is undoubtedly the life of the movie. But she gets wonderful support from the rest of the cast. Vicky Kaushal absolutely rocks as the irresponsible man-child and despite all the flaws of the character, Vicky still makes the character so endearing, without putting a foot wrong.  Abhishek Bachchan, returning after a gap of two years, unfortunately is still playing the bland Ramji types- the kind he played in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna,.  However, the writing fails to do justice to this third wheel and even performance wise- Abhishek despite his calming assured presence, fail to really bring anything new to his portrayal.

Despite its predictability , Anurag Kashyap and writer Kanika ‘s treatment keep things interesting.  The characters here are not boxed into any stereotypes and each have enough shades of grey to keep the viewers hooked. In fact, there is this constant motif of duality that is the center-stage of this script whichKashyap keeps exploring with these characters. And to drive home the point, he deliberately keeps throwing the visual cues like the dancing twins (Poonam and Priyanka Shah) or the twin guys we see in the Kashmir episode.

It is a welcome return for Kashyap to the romantic genre after a series of crime dramas since tasting success with Dev D. But Kashyap being Kashyap, gets into his fair share of indulgence that makes the movie appear a slog at 155 minutes. As we grapple with Rumi’s indecisiveness, Vicky and Rumi’s antics get a little too repetitive and brings down the energy at a lot of instances. You would find yourself wishing that these two would for once make up their minds and move on.

Glad to find Kashyap and writer Kannika truly liberating Rumi and unchaining her from the Bollywood rulebook that defines how a leading protagonist should act and behave onscreen. Virginity and sex is never brought up as a hindrance to anything as the big issue over a small tissue is outright thrown out of the window in this unflinching take on love, lust and marriage. In fact, right at the beginning, in the scene when the family members discover Vicky in her bedroom Rumi’s immediate reaction is  ‘ So what?’

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Successfully aiding Kashyap’s return to the romantic genre is partner from Dev D days – Amit Trivedi.  Together with lyricist Shelly, the team has come up once again with a scintillating soundtrack that really works wonder and is effectively used to keep the narration stay afloat , capturing the various moods as required.

Cinematographer Sylvester Fonseca does full justice in capturing the hustle bustle of the small-town Punjab.  Kashyap also cleverly uses food as one of the crutch points. Lassi, pakoras and such mouthwatering delicacies are served aplenty and all the food talk could whet up an appetite in you. So it is best advised not to watch it on an empty stomach.

Manmarziyaan, like its title, seem to be content doing its own thing as it pleases. Refusing to cater to the tried and tested, it constantly pushes and rebels its way out of the labels. Kashyap and team may not have exactly hit it out of the park but has managed to carve out something distinctly bolder from the usual bunch of glossy rom-coms and romantic dramas that Bollywood churns out. And much like its characters, Manmarziyaan is a movie that needs to be accepted with all its imperfections.

 

MANMARZIYAAN  (2018)

cast:  Taapsee Pannu, Abhishek Bachchan, Vicky Kaushal

Music:  Amit Trivedi

Directed by Anurag Kashyap

Nil Battey Sannata Movie Review: A Tale of Desires and Boundaries

I have often wondered how much do we know about the lives of the people doing odd jobs all around us. Be it a driver, a maid servant, a watchman etc, do we know anything apart from their names in the first place? They are the ones who ensure that our lives go on unaffected in the best possible ways.  But do we care to know what their desires are? Or what they would like to do for the people in their family? Sometimes people tend to care a lot for their pets but end up ill-treating the people working for/with them, how is this justified in the first place? No one voluntarily takes up a job which comes with low self esteem, it’s a function of fate and one’s helplessness that sees one take up an assignment like this. So it’s amazing to see people from socially and economically downtrodden backgrounds managing to remain hopeful of a better future and work their way towards the same. Continue reading “Nil Battey Sannata Movie Review: A Tale of Desires and Boundaries”

Tanu Weds Manu Returns: My Analysis

** Lots of spoilers ahead. I strongly recommend watching the movie first.

Let me get the hyperbole out of the way. Kangana is a bonafide movie star. Her dual role might go on to become one of the most iconic double roles in indian film history. Kangana struts her stuff so breathtakingly in the movie, you are left agape at the confidence, the talent and the swagger. The last time a female performance that chewed everything around her was Kareena in JWM, but Kangana went a step ahead and just took my breath away.

Returning to the movie at hand. This might be the first movie that integrates the double role gimmick in its very theme to the point that it feels a very organic part of the film. TWMR has all the ‘realistic’ and ‘authentic flavors’ trappings of our multiplex movie era, but it has that larger than life ‘filmy’ blood running wild through its veins. Its like RNBDJ on steroids. It takes the ‘placeholder’ theory of RNBDJ and runs wild with it going into bizarre territories and asking really uncomfortable questions about perception of a person’s identity. Is the other person just a placeholder for few archetypes? How much of your appearance constitutes your identity? Can two people with same behavioral be perceived as same identity? These might look basic questions because truly, they are very BASIC questions regarding perception of human identity.Continue reading “Tanu Weds Manu Returns: My Analysis”

Box-Office Analysis: Lessons from TWMR and Piku Success Stories

The Hindi film industry can’t hide its excitement. Almost like a young girl going out on her first official date with her childhood crush. The buzz in Mumbai is that ‘Acche Din’ are finally here and there’s now no looking back at what has been a disastrous, to put it in polite words, first few months of 2015 at the box office. With not a single ‘Super Hit’, forget about Blockbusters, and hardly a couple of clean ‘Hits’ in the Jan-May period, the industry was clearly looking down the barrel in terms of business and revenue. But, with Tanu Weds Manu Returns (TWMR) getting a phenomenal response from the audiences all across the country, we are all set to witness the first Blockbuster of 2015. Yes, you read it right. That elusive blockbuster is finally off the block!Continue reading “Box-Office Analysis: Lessons from TWMR and Piku Success Stories”

Tanu Weds Manu Returns: A Quick Review

5 Reasons- Why you should not miss Tanu Weds Manu Returns:

  • TWMR Poster 3Kangana is outstanding in a double role. Her impeccable Haryanvi accent would put the Chautalas to shame. Few actors have been able to do justice to double roles in Bollywood the way she has done in TWM2.
  • Madhavan plays himself.. he is the calm husband even in adversity. Watching the couple is like watching Tendulkar and Dravid play cricket. While Kangana is blazing guns and aggressive in both her roles, Maddy coolly manages to support her well and ensure that the equilibrium is maintained!
  • Deepak Dobriyaal as Pappi shows us once again how supporting roles can be enacted to make them appear like lead roles. The most hilarious dialogues are given to him and he does absolute justice to them. Laugh a riot guy with an unassuming character that keeps surprising you often and tickling your funny bone with consummate ease
  • Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub doesn’t get left behind in his portrayal of Chintu – Tanu’s second fiddle. Whether he is falling for Kangna or getting jilted by her, he wears his heart on his sleeve.
  • Finally, the whole Indian small town setting accentuated by good screenplay/ dialogues by Himanshu Sharma, direction by Anand Rai and an amazing supporting cast of Swara Bhaskar, Jimmy Shergill and Eijaz Khan brings to life a well paced, funny and light movie interspersed with social messages that you can interpret if you are attentive enough. set

Its a revolutionary movie which doesn’t follow the Indian stereotype for a woman.

Continue reading “Tanu Weds Manu Returns: A Quick Review”

Tanu Weds Manu Returns Review: You Will Like the Film, Not Tanu & Manu Themselves

Tanu Weds Manu, Anand L Rai’s much-liked rom-com that released in 2011, managed to break quite a few, if not all, shackles when it comes to predictable love stories. But, Tanu, the feisty, unconventional protagonist of the 2011 film is somewhat underwhelming and repressed in this sequel. Equally cut to size, barring a few kilos that he seems to have gained, is Manu (played by R Madhavan), the inconspicuous and ‘boring’ hero. The task of seeing through this rather ‘forced’ sequel is assigned to Kangana’s double avatar, Kusum aka ‘Datto’, the Haryanvi athlete studying at Delhi University who happens to be Tanu’s doppelganger.Continue reading “Tanu Weds Manu Returns Review: You Will Like the Film, Not Tanu & Manu Themselves”

Tanu Weds Manu Returns Movie Review : Twice The Fun

Tanu Weds Manu became an instant winner with everyone when it came out in 2011, largely due to its renewed take on marriages and the female lead, played meticulously by Kangana Ranaut. Director Aanand L Rai and his writer, Himanshu Sharma, went on to make Raanjhanaa in 2013 and then came back for the TWM sequel. The first trailer shined amongst a lot of expectations, and the songs cracked the audience likability code right away. But that may not be enough for a great film, and more importantly, to snap out of the curse of the sequel.Continue reading “Tanu Weds Manu Returns Movie Review : Twice The Fun”

The Avatars of the Stalker

There’s a thin line between being in love and being obsessed – earnestly confessing your feelings for someone and coercing someone to reciprocate to your feelings. Writers, filmmakers and other artists have been universally enamoured by the psyche of the “stalker” – the innocuous or fiendish guy or girl who pursues the person he or she is in love with. A love that borders on obsessive compulsive disorder.

Let us not confuse the stalker with the villain – the stalker doesn’t tease, pass malicious comments or try to molest / abuse / rape his beloved. On the contrary, the stalker goes all out just to convince the profundity of his or her love. In most cases, these characters are showered with sympathy – a feeling that would never arise in a real life scenario. Perhaps, just to neutralise the same, the stalkers are also meted out a tragic destiny, to highlight the dismal eventuality of such obsession or for creative justification.

The portrayal of the obsessed lover has varied, not necessarily commensurate with the change in the social milieu, but definitely in a way that could play to the gallery. In this post, I look at six films, which have glorified the stalker – the silent lover whose mania gradually overpowers the love, transgressing into the other’s person life, and eventually bringing both of them down. However, I have ignored any film (read the “Sleeping with the Enemy” remakes and the likes) in which the victim and her tormentor have a shared past.Continue reading “The Avatars of the Stalker”

Raanjhanaa Movie Review:Two Different Films

Raanjhnaa-First-Look-Poster

Movies are pretty much built on love. Love stories have been the staple diet for movie goers since the silent films era and even in the era of talkies beginning with Gone In The Wind in 1939 or even  if I look back even earlier,  I would find something fo sure. We Indians have had love stories that have largely been tragedies and if not they’ve usually been reduced to boring, formulaic with heroes fighting 20 baddies in every other scene.  Of late there has been an attempt at reworking this genre or rather reworking the classic tale of Heer- Ranjha , Laila – Majnu in Bollywood and we have seen stories like Rockstar and movies like Love Aaj Kal dealing with love in a modern, mature . Though I am not a fan of the many reworked movies because I’ve failed to see them as merely old wine in new bottle, there have been takes where the blurring lines of friendship and love are seen in the reworking and Raanjhanaa is a film that goes that fascinating route.Continue reading “Raanjhanaa Movie Review:Two Different Films”