“This is my twenty-fifth film. I don’t think that any of the past directors wanted to take film to a festival, it was more about box office performance” says Taapsee Pannu on being asked about her hopes for Manmarziya at TIFF. Kashyap wittily replies “Okay, she’s finally worthy of going to a festival.”
With Manmarziyaa, Kashyap forays into the gauzes of love triangle and cerebral complexities for the second time. The tried and tested parable where the girl has to choose between her unabashed rowdy boyfriend and the family set chivalrous match is no new addition to the Bollywood history line and will remind you of Bhansali’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or Darshan’s Dhadkan. The script textures may be similar here but Kashyap – Dhillon add fierce strokes of grey to this triangle, painting a vivid picture relevant to the modern times.
Manmarziyaa centers around Rumi (Taapsee Pannu), a free spirited young woman living with her extended family in Punjab. She is in love with DJ Sandz (Vicky Kaushal), rowdy with beats on the sleeves and swag up the collar. Their Pyar (love) and Fyar (Lust) tries to covertly find ways to each other amidst the set family boundaries as everything comes to testing junctures . The reluctance of Vicky to show up for marriage proposal is met with Rumi’s family arranging for Robbie Bhatia (Abhishek Bachchan), a banker from London. Each of the three main characters are impulsive, they make rash decisions that set them on a path of self destruction but follow what the heart desires: Manmarziyaa. There is something wrong with Rumi, but it’s hard to put your finger on it. She is fiercely independent, rebel to the core and proud of it. Her convenience takes the front seat and as a viewer you are emphatic with her actions, trying to understand the eternal angst behind them. Vicky is non committal, rude, violent and yet his only redeeming factor is carefree and uninhibited love for Rumi. Robbie is quite adept at hiding his emotions and failing indifferences, little knowing how much pain he gives himself in the process. There is an inherent strength to his character as he accepts each rejection with unusual grace and decency. A Sikh who steps out without turban only to put it back on once he enters home so as not to hurt his parents. While Tapsee and Vicky’s wild performances have a lasting affect, it is Bachchan’s deeply understated performance that thoroughly yanks at your heart strings.
Writer Kanika Dhillon neatly fleshes out her three imperfect characters without passing any form of judgment. Irrespective of the many mistakes that each of these characters commit you find yourself rooting for both love stories whether it is the joyful and carnal relationship shared by of Rumi and Vicky or the playful blossoming romance between Rumi and Robbie. With a duration of 150 minutes Manmarziya has 15 tracks, incorporated brilliantly with the script. Whether it is the groovy “F se Fyaar” that sheds light on Vicky and Rumi’s playful romance, the soulful “Dariya” or the peaceful “Sachi Mohabbat”, the lyrics is poignant with soul at core. The insight of “Manmarziya” is that at the end we will choose our heart’s desire, the paths of agony and pain and when each lane of it has been traversed we come home to peace.