A blue-haired man called Vicky Sandhu is jumping across buildings. Why? To be with his ‘Fyaar’ and ‘Pyaar,’ the red-haired Rumi. They meet, they embrace and they make love. Anurag Kashyap’s latest offering Manmarziyaan starts on a bright, passionate note. The film is Anurag Kashyap’s first attempt at narrating a love story. A messy love story with characters that have ‘Grey Wale Shade.’
Of course, one could look at the director’s filmography and make a case about how Dev D and Lust Stories try to communicate something important about love. But neither of them ever claimed in their trailers to exclusively deal with the subject of love, unlike Manmarziyaan. The first half of the film thrives in the intense and zealous celebration of Vicky (Vicky Kaushal) and Rumi’s (Taapsee Pannu) love. There are evocative and peppy songs, and a few hilarious moments brought to life by Vicky with his dumbfounded expression at Rumi’s demand for responsibility and commitment. The first hour of the film is a rollercoaster ride of emotions; love, anger, insecurity and brazenness do their little dance and it’s a delight to watch the spectacle. The first half of the film is also unlike anything Anurag has put on screen before and that is only fitting, because how many times have you seen an Anurag Kashyap love story unfold on the silver screen.
However, nearly everything post-intermission is a drag. Kanika Dhillon’s story limps and shuffles uncomfortably to keep up with the pretty landscape of Amritsar and with the all-too-telling music of Amit Trivedi. And had it not been for Abhishek Bachchan’s stable, silent and deeply-in-love Robbie, watching the movie all the way till the end would have been harder than it was. While both Vicky Kaushal and Taapsee Pannu deliver the performances that were expected of them, it is Abhishek’s act as the ‘Ramji types’ that makes the latter half of the film watchable. Now, what is interesting about Abhishek playing a character that we have seen too often on screen? The kind of man who sacrifices and waits for his romantic interest to return the favour. We saw him as Vanraj in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and in Prem Kumar of Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon, funnily enough, Abhishek was the one who had essayed the role of Prem Kumar in the latter. But Robbie is more alive, more patient, more fun to watch and that would have not been the case without Anurag’s vision.
When a drunk Robbie laments and grieves over his unrequited love, it is a surprise. Robbie is a banker who thinks things through, a part of him has worked out the probability of Rumi falling for him, the whole thing is almost mathematical. Love becomes quantifiable when Robbie leads the way, but when it matters the most, Robbie knows that he cannot afford to overthink about an intangible thing like love. Robbie, like Ennis Del Mar of Brokeback Mountain, keeps things clenched, hidden deep within him, but when he is open and honest, he shines. This complexity of Robbie counters the madness of Rumi and Vicky in a lovely fashion, which is what saves the film towards the end. Manmarziyaan looks at love with new lenses, and so does Anurag.