On the very day when the Supreme Court emphasised on equal love by discriminalising homosexuality, striking down Section 377, Chandigarh was celebrating not just the verdict but also a love story that will unfold on the screen when the film Manmarziyaan releases on September 14. The cast of the Anurag Kashyap-directed film — Abhishek Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and Vicky Kaushal — were in the city for its promotion.
In his first love story set in Punjab, mainly Amritsar, the director had previously remarked that if he could evoke the spirit and soul of the city in the film, he would consider it his victory. Back on screen after a gap of two years, Bachchan, sporting a red turban and beard, seems comfortable in his skin and with playing the character of Robbie in Manmarziyaan. The actor describes the film as a “quintessential love story for this generation”. He says, “The love story is very pertinent to women and their outlook towards the emotion. The woman in the film is free from all conformities and has the freedom to express herself. She feels that no one has the right to judge or shackle her. Both the men in her life, Kaushal and I, don’t want Rumi (Pannu) to change herself in any way. There are no tangibles in love, no questions asked, for you can’t quantify the emotion. Love is the hero. The film is made through the eyes of a woman and emphasises on the free spirit of love, like the Supreme Court judgement,” says Bachchan.
A huge admirer of Kashyap’s films, collaborating and working on the film, says the actor, was a journey that helped him discover something new, with the director open to sharing. “Robbie, my character in the film, is an introvert, while I am an extrovert. Though I would like to be more mature like him. I want the audience to believe I am the characters I play. I fall and I get up. I love my look in the film, which we worked really hard to get completely right, as we didn’t want to hurt anyone’s sentiments,” says Bachchan. For the two years that he chose not to work, the actor says he was reconsidering and re-evaluating what he was doing, as he did not want to seem complacent in his work. “At the end of the day, it’s the audience you are working for and you don’t want to take them for granted. You have to respect them. When Manmarziyaan happened, I said to myself, let’s get on with work, for this is a film that will resonate with everyone.”
The actor’s favourite love story? Bachchan says it is undoubtedly his grandparents’ story. He recalls, ‘They met on New Year’s eve and he proposed to her the next day and they were soon married.”
In Manmarziyaan, Kaushal, once again, works with his mentor, Kashyap, with whom he shares a special working and personal relationship. “Over the years, we have developed a comfort level. He is a spontaneous director, subtly pushing his actors to give all that they have. There is no large planning that he gets into, he makes you get into the character. You are not told what to do, the process is organic,” says Kaushal. His plays Vicky Sandhu. The actor is also currently working on Uri, which is based on the surgical strikes.
The first love story for Pannu, the actor says she has been waiting for this for the last eight years. “I completely resonated with Kanika Dhillon’s style of narrative and my character Rumi. The story is about us today, there is no villain in this film. It is strong and violent in its emotions, for feelings can be violent. It felt so correct to be here and we all are both excited and nervous about the response we will get from the audience. Nervousness is always a part of an actor’s life,” smiles Pannu.