‘Manmarziyaan’: A Love Triangle With Anurag Kashyap’s Tadka
The conflict in ‘Manmarziyaan’ is great, the resolution, well, not so much.
One of the most popular dishes of Bollywood – the ‘love triangle’ gets Anurag Kashyap’s tadka in Manmarziyaan. Think of it as raw meat cooked on a high flame of romantic passion with a dash of Jab We Met, a sprinkling of Dhadkan and a pinch of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. You relish a few spoons, but by the time you finish more than half of it, your tummy begins to protest. Finally, when you are done, you wonder if you have bitten more than you can chew.
Given that the clichéd love triangle is given some contemporary flourishes, what really happened? Also given that it is cooked by a seasoned director (Anurag Kashyap) and spontaneous actors (Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal and Abhishek Bachchan) what could possibly go wrong?
Ah, the usual. They know how to create a conflict but don’t know how to resolve it.
Set in Amritsar, Manmarziyaan opens with Taapsee Pannu as Rumi sneaking away to have some fun under the sheets with local DJ, Vicky Kaushal. Lest you are mistaken, Rumi, the 13th century philosopher has nothing to do with our fiery Rumi who sells hockey sticks when she is not zipping the town on her bike and unzipping for Vicky. Like Bitti of Bareilly Ki Barfi, Rumi of Amritsar is unapologetic about her smoking, drinking and two-wheeler escapades. In fact, she is like a bomb that explodes anytime, anywhere. Together, Vicky and Rumi are like a carousel on speed spinning through Amritsar’s by-lanes. To say that blue-haired Vicky is as wild as red-haired Tapsee would be erroneous, because he lacks her spunk. Each time Rumi suggests marriage, Vicky gets cold feet. And yet, he can’t see Rumi married to anyone else.
Enter Abhishek who reminds you of Dhadkan’s Akshay Kumar and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’s Ajay Devgan - an embodiment of patience and forgiveness. As Robbie, the NRI banker, Abhishek is ready to marry Taapsee even though he knows she loves Vicky. Yes, the same old dish served in Amritsar.
So far, so good.
The role of a fiery Punjaban is a piece of cake for Taapsee and she doesn’t disappoint. When she smiles impishly you feel as if she is keeping a delicious secret, when she cries you want to console her, and when she throws a tantrum, you can’t stop but marvel the incredible softness of her eyes. Taapsee reminds you of Kareena Kapoor’s Jab We Met spunk each time she plans to run away without thinking. This is not to say that her character is without flaws. Despite Rumi’s bravado, she has the brain of a fourteen-year-old.
As an actor, Vicky Kaushal is the find of the decade. I had to pinch myself to convince that this tattooed good-for-nothing lout is not the restrained police officer of Raazi or the shy Gujju from Sanju. If Vicky couldn’t get to do ‘ghapa ghap’ in Sanju, a roll in the bed is all he wants in Manmarziyaan.
Abhishek appears on screen after a self-imposed hiatus. Dressed in a turban to please his family, he plays to role of an NRI banker with perfect ease. Mostly, because he is playing himself.
As it happens, after the interval you begin to get flustered with all the ‘yes-no-yes-maybe-no’. Just when you are about to scream, “Yaar decide kar lo kiske saath rehna hai” there are some hilarious moments. Like when Abhishek and Taapsee are on their honeymoon and the parents call to ask, “Aur beta honeymoon kaisa chal rahai? Maza aa raha hai ki nahi?” And just for Taapsee’s blunt retort, the second half becomes worth a watch. I’m not telling, go watch it for yourself.
While the young protagonists can’t make up their minds, the film takes you through the highs and lows of parents who are blind spectators to the manmarziyaan of their kids. We have a come a long way from the days when parents or our zaalim sammaaj used to create obstacles in the path of love. Today, it’s our own mind that creates confusion, conflict and complexities. Earlier one night of passion would result in ‘Main tumahre bachche ki maa ban ne wali hoon’ and today sex is like a cup of tea. You can have it anytime, anywhere.
Towards the end, when Taapsee and Abhishek are clearing the table after cooking up a storm, I emerge clueless as to why Vicky decides to move away? Suddenly? Just because the director didn’t know what to do with him? And what did those dancing twins signify? Despite inordinate songs populating the film, I remember only one – the foot tapping ‘Dhyan Kithe Dhyanchand’. And despite Anurag Kashyap being a professional embroider of tales, I am not convinced with the way he resolved the crimes of the heart. The ideas are half baked and film jumps from the frying pan to fire in the second half. Some slices of the pie are delectable but the soufflé doesn’t quite rise to perfection.
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