Art & Culture

Why the heroine is the hero in Anurag Kashyap's Manmarziyaan

Kaveree Bamzai
Kaveree BamzaiSep 15, 2018 | 14:10

Why the heroine is the hero in Anurag Kashyap's Manmarziyaan

She wields the hockey stick like it's an extension of her body. She thinks nothing of riding off on her Bullet in the middle of the night to tell her fiance it's all over. She talks with great enthusiasm about her orgasms. And when she wants to think, she takes off for a run. No wilting wallflower this one, but not very different from our Queens and Tanus, right? Wrong. In Manmarziyaan, Taapsee Pannu brings a complete lack of artifice and total abandonment to the character of Rumi, who never does anything by half measures.


Equally, Vicky Kaushal playing Vicky Sandhu aka DJ Sandz is every boy next door. The spoilt kid, who thinks his father has a jadoo ki chhadi, and is given everything his tiny heart desires; from boxing gloves when he wanted to be Vijender Singh, a phase that lasted a day; an engineering seat when he wanted to become an engineer; a management seat when he saw his friends on Facebook applying for it; and finally a DJ set when he decided he'd be the next Yo Yo Honey Singh.

In Manmarziyaan, Taapsee Pannu brings a complete lack of artifice and total abandonment to the character of Rumi. (Photo: Screengrab)

He's the man-child, now a significant trope in many Bollywood movies, as he is IRL. He's cool enough with his hairdo, his tattoos, his Jim Morrison T-shirts, and his weed. But he has a fatal flaw – unlike the man-child of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, he doesn't want to marry the woman of his dreams, much as he is in pyaar and accustomed to f-yaar (yes that is exactly what you think it is). Every time Rumi tells him to run away he remembers he has asked his mum to make gobi ka parathas; or that he has to pick up some milk for home or that his customised jeep doesn't have enough petrol.


Rumi and Vicky live in the old quarters of Amritsar next door to the majestic Golden Temple, and it is as if the temple's soothing gilt lights up the entire movie. Everything is pitch perfect – the irritating questions from the extended family while on honeymoon, the two-week package to Pahalgam, the endless pakoras, the hectic cleaning up before guests arrive, the pistol to the head in a bar.

Vicky Kaushal playing Vicky Sandhu aka DJ Sandz is every boy next door. (Photo: Colour Yellow/Eros International)

Girls and boys swipe right for love and sex; send friend requests while in the same room; and stalk each other on Facebook to check relationship status. Sex is natural, virginity is an idea whose time has come and gone, and drinking each other under the table is part of foreplay, or as the wise father says, a way of the kids becoming comfortable.

Abhishek Bachchan plays Robbie, the London banker, makes a welcome return to the movies, with his stillness, watchfulness and meaningful glances. He talks little, observes a lot, and falls madly in love with Rumi. What could have been a trite been-there-done-that triangle is elevated by fearless and fierce acting – Vicky loves Rumi who may or may not love Robbie though she does agree to marry him.


Abhishek Bachchan plays Robbie, a London-based banker. (Photo: Screengrab)

Robbie is Ramji, while Rumi is a dayan, an atom bomb, in short, a woman with her own mind. In a reversal of roles, Abhishek Bachchan is shown dressing up as the groom, looking at himself one final time; Taapse Pannu rushes into the arms of the man she finally chooses at breakneck speed; and Vicky's gang is as much enablers as protectors. This is India, uncut, unfiltered, living-in New India love, where men are looking for life partners, not naukranis, escorts or nurses, and women are allowed to find their prospective husbands hot and achche. 

Anurag Kashyap's world is absorbing, and guess what, not a single drop of blood. There are only beating hearts and lungs with enough firepower to wake up the entire neighbourhood. Yes, love is complicated, short on patience, and most unexpected. Pretty much like life. Think Hum Dil Se Chuke Sanam with a Punjabi tadka.         

Last updated: September 15, 2018 | 14:10
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