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

Jab Harry Met Sejal Movie Review: Tab Head Met Wall!

There’s a moment, bang in the middle of Jab Harry Met Sejal, when one of the titular characters remarks snidely “This is silly, we need to get out of here”, and you end up thinking to yourself, what if the same had been said by Aditya to Geet (Jab We Met) or Tara to Ved (Tamasha), the seeming voices of reason asking a dreamer to change course, to not fly too close to the sun, to stop sprinting and take a breath. When the promos of JHMS first showed up, it seemed like yet another Imtiaz Ali tale of two strangers in a strange land, but when the two strangers happen to be Shahrukh Khan and Anushka Sharma, can the magic of Jab We Met, the soulfulness of Highway and the pathos of Tamasha be captured again on celluloid?Continue reading “Jab Harry Met Sejal Movie Review: Tab Head Met Wall!”

Raman Raghav 2.0: Trailer

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Tamasha (2015) Movie Review: The Art of Bad Storytelling

Imtiaz Ali’s film Tamasha is, at best, an attempt at a grand spectacle, and at worst, an eloquent exploration of the title’s other meaning, that is, commotion.The movie starts with the back story of a child fascinated with storytelling, beautifully shot by the talented Ravi Verman of Barfi fame, and coherently strung together by editor Aarti Bajaj. The movie is narrated not so subtly, by a theatre show of a futuristic robot and a joker.In a desperately clichéd attempt to portray the story as contrary to reality, young Ved is seen escaping his cruel father, collecting stolen pennies in a secret box, and using them to pay to listen to an old man’s (Piyush Mishra) fantastical tales. The old man keeps reiterating that all stories are essentially the same with characters that keep changing. The child, much like the protagonist in Pan’sLabyrinth, finds stories in unlikely places, and imagines characters materializing from the dark corners of his house. Unable to discern reality from fantasy, his young mind is enraptured by the possibilities of a fictional world, which contrast starkly to his life under his father watchful eye.Up until this point, Tamasha has merit enough to be a very good children’s film.Continue reading “Tamasha (2015) Movie Review: The Art of Bad Storytelling”

Tamasha Movie Review: Performance of Life

 

Jab We Met, Break Ke Baad, Ek Main Aur Ek Tu and Tamasha – what do these have in common? They have a stuck-up, somewhat depressed beta-male who is liberated from the monotony of life by a freewheeling sorted-in-life chic. They unlock the guy’s true potential. Out of these movies, 2 have Kareena Kapoor, 2 have Deepika Padukone and 2 are made by the same guy, Imtiaz Ali. It says a lot about all of them. Kareena and Deepika are the true female superstars of the multiplex era. Just like Madhuri and Sridevi (Beta, Chalbaaz) from the 90’s, they fulfill the male writer-director’s fantasy of women with reins (“If I’m going to submit myself to someone, it has to be one of these”). Imtiaz Ali’s lead male characters are highly conflicted (nothing profound, just confused) and eventually turn to the women for life-affirming comforts. With Tamasha, he continues with his adolescent pre-occupations of finding the one-true-special-one, but this time he exhibits a very strong narrative control for almost three quarters of the movie, where he shifts through places, timelines and perspectives much more organically than his other more ambitious films like Love Aaj Kal and Rockstar.Continue reading “Tamasha Movie Review: Performance of Life”

Tamasha Movie Review: Imtiaz Ali’s Mera Naam Joker Moment

Tamasha Poster 1If you flip through filmography of accomplished directors, you will find at least one film that goes on to become a symbol of their pedigree. ‘That one film’ may not necessarily be the directors’ most accomplished work or a roaring commercial success, yet it beams with the faith, idea and conviction of its creator.Continue reading “Tamasha Movie Review: Imtiaz Ali’s Mera Naam Joker Moment”

Tamasha Movie Review: A Mainstream Commercial Film with a Lot of Heart and Mind

There comes a time in life when you introspect, reflect about what you have been doing all these years. Is it the real you? Being enslaved in mundane stuff for eons, can a spark bring back that true self in a quest to recognize your identity. Significantly, have you even identified that deep within, you are not living a life that you once aspired for. Sometimes an incident, a moment or maybe even a failure can shake your core self; leading to a descent, only to realize your own self-worth. A worth which is required to accentuate your importance in your own eyes.Continue reading “Tamasha Movie Review: A Mainstream Commercial Film with a Lot of Heart and Mind”

Ugly (2014) Movie Review: Dark, Intense and Relevant, Very Relevant

I was quite happy when I got an opportunity to watch Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly late last year. Post the screening at Cannes earlier in the year (2013) the feedback I had received about the film was not all that great. But then I heard that the film had been re-edited, something which I felt could be a positive move for the film. I have not seen the initial version, but the revised cut which I saw impressed me immensely and I was sure that it would be one of the best Hindi films of the year. Unfortunately Ugly did not make it to theatres in 2013 but I was sure that irrespective of when the theatrical release happens, my feeling about the film would remain the same. Now that I have re-visited the film I am delighted to say that my intuition has come right. Ugly worked for me earlier and it worked for me even now, more on that in a while.Continue reading “Ugly (2014) Movie Review: Dark, Intense and Relevant, Very Relevant”

Anurag Kashyap’s “Ugly”: New Trailer

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