Love is messy and seldom perfect, and artistes have had their own love affair with that story for eons. Few have been able to get the dichotomy of love just right. Love is patient, love is kind. But love is also fervent, fragile, and frenetic – all at the same time. In Manmarziyaan,Anurag Kashyap manages to beautifully navigate the lanes between these two kinds of love with an acute tenderness, almost as lyrically and dexterously as Sylvester Fonseca’s camera sifts through the narrowest alleys and lanes of Punjab. This Taapsee Pannu, Abhishek Bachchan, and Vicky Kaushal-starrer is a slow-burner much like the passions of first love which settles into the ashes of a more mature and tender one.
Rumi and Vicky’s love is full of a youthful aggression that threatens to burn their world down. Just how love lead the way in Amrita Pritam’s life, her final love poem ‘Main Tenu Phir Milangi” is whispered in Rumi’s voice in one pivotal scene in both of their love story, leading the way. Just when things start to feel too overwhelming, everything halts, almost suddenly, when Rumi meets Rajbir. Their moments together are full of so much tenderness and stillness that you can actually feel your heart calming down and nestling in a warm corner. Edited by Aarti Bajaj, the transformation between these scenes is an emotional rollercoaster that is very much intentional. You’re meant to feel the jolt, you are meant to feel the silences after the tumultuous roars.
Vicky is pitch perfect as the young, uninhibited enamoured lover. But, then again, Vicky is a tremendous performer who has given one brilliant performance after another so far. In that respect, he is much like Rajkummar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi – these men can do no wrong! Abhishek brings in a kind of gentleness and kindness to his character Rajbir, rarely witnessed in him before. There are the usual Kashyap touches that inevitably makes both the guys look kaafi cool. But, there are moments when he tries to do with Abhishek what he did with Abhay Deol in Dev.D and these scenes come across as unconvincing. However, Taapsee is the real one to watch out for here.
The film is also visually a treat to watch, especially with cinematography and sound design so good that you can literally taste and smell everything you see on-screen. There’s also this running motif with twins that can be read as a reflection of the duality of love. There are these dancing twins who keep showing up around Rumi while she is in Amritsar. Then there are the Kashmiri kahwa-drinking twins who keep staring at her while she is on her honeymoon with Rajbir. Perhaps this is a homage to The Shiningbecause love is also a little bit of a bhootiya affair at the end of the day. Even in love, we behave like possessed old souls, being tortured and torturing others.