As a die-hard romantic, and a Sardarni, my review of Anurag Kashyap’s “Manmarziyan” is bound to be biased. Though aren’t all reviews expositions of personal preferences shaped by one’s circumstances? As a reviewer, I felt the film is just above average, but I really liked it as a member of the audience!
Rumi (Taapsee Pannu), a feisty Sardarni from Amritsar, is in a relationship with the commitment-phobe DJ Vicky (Vicky Kaushal). Under serious family pressure, Rumi agrees to marry Robbie (Abhishek Bacchan), an NRI “goody two-shoes” banker, leading to a tangled love triangle.
The done-to-death story is the weakest link of the film. Kashyap attempts to show a modern interpretation of romance, focusing on the blurred lines between sexual attraction and love. He successfully captures some aspects like the excessive confusion in a young person’s mind, the pressure youngsters feel to have passionate romances, and social media’s influence in bringing people together. Unfortunately, he often resorts to incongruous plot twists and strong reactions that don’t seem real.
The true strength of the film is its acting talent, and overarching creativity. Each actor, from the three protagonists to the supporting roles, lives and breathes who they play. Their authentic reactions downplay the excessive and unreal drama. Vicky Kaushal has a reptilian ability to change with each character he plays, and he’s fabulous in this role. Bachchan does justice to his part, as do all the family members and friends. The outstanding star, however, is Taapsee Pannu, who essays her confusion, misery and exuberant happiness equally beautifully.
The cinematography and camera-work are remarkable, bringing the crowded bylanes of Amritsar and serene beauty of Kashmir, to life. Kashyap has a distinct aesthetic that sets him apart from everyone else in Bollywood. His films are akin to painstaking works of art. Small touches like the twin girls with their phenomenal dance moves, the mouthwatering food shots, and the peaceful Golden Temple, all make a unique mark. The dialogue is crisp, voluble and offers many humorous moments.
The editing and scripting is weak, as certain things move too fast, while others are too slow. The build-up of Rumi and Robbie’s relationship isn’t accorded as much importance as Rumi and Vicky’s.
The music is par excellence. I’ve been listening to the entire playlist (a rare feat), on repeat. Amit Trivedi, always the maverick, has outdone himself here. He sets up the perfect mood for the film with the playful notes of each song. The lyrics, inspired by Amrita Pritam’s poetry, are poignant and speak volumes about love without resorting to clichés.
If you’re not one for formulaic Bollywood love stories, you won’t enjoy this film. If, however, you like light-hearted, well-made films, you’ll enjoy this one. It’s a creatively made movie with first class performances and mellifluous music, and is definitely worth a watch.
Film Rating: 4/5
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