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MANMARZIYAAN - When theme of LOVE gets over-stylized with forced dialogues & unreal characterizations, then it all looks FAKE despite an interesting soundtrack & fine lead performances. (Review By Bobby Sing)

15 Sep, 2018 | Movie Reviews / 2018 Releases / ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / M

The bold and courageous Anurag Kashyap – known for his inclination towards crime, criminals and real but twisted characters or stories returning back with typical Bollywood romance was inviting enough to expect an intense, out of the box and revealing love story featuring an interesting cast. 
But sadly MANMARZIYAN doesn’t work for me and fails to deliver anything fresh or novel in the name of content, which was supposed to be the very first element expected in an Anurag Kashyap film. Moreover it also falters in its execution in terms of the backdrop of Punjab and its people in particular which never makes any major impact in its painfully lengthy duration of more than 150 minutes.
What frankly doesn’t work beginning on a disappointing note.
Personally speaking, a love story actually loses a lot of its exciting ground if it straight away begins with the boy and the girl already loving each other in the very first scene. The way they fall in love in all honesty remains the most charming element of a love story for me, which is completely missing in MANMARZIYAAN. The film straight away begins with Tapsee and Vicky having another meet of their ‘Fyaar’ and that truly killed a big part of my excitement to watch their romance, missing the ‘must-have’ initial innocence.
The stylized insertion of the twin dancers introducing the city and dancing along Tapsee walking down the road looks inventive in the beginning, but the same occurs to be overstylized and overdone sooner than expected. After just a few scenes it all looks like forcibly inserted seriously hurting the realistic tone of the proceedings. And ‘the twins’ also wasn’t anything entirely novel as it was earlier seen in a few films like GOONJ (1989) and more.
The most disappointing feature of MANMARZIYAN is its basic plot which is yet again highly inspired or borrowed from earlier ventures like HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM (1999), which was itself an upgrade version of WOH SAAT DIN (1983), which was in turn the remake of the Tamil Hit ANTHA EZHU NAATKAL (1981), which was reportedly inspired from the real life of the veteran actor J. P. Chandrababu. Plus, the theme of a married woman still in relationship with her lover was also there in films like GUMRAH (1963), BEWAFAA (2005) and more.
Frankly wasn’t expecting to see the same old story again in an Anurag Kashyap film and that too with an unexciting and unconvincing execution. Cannot say whether Kashyap is intentionally following Sanjay Leela Bhansali or not, but MANMARZIYAN is his second film based on the same plot of a Bhansali film, just like DEV-D was another take of DEVDAS, adapted by Bhansali in his own questionable version.
Written by Kanika Dhillon, the film also falters majorly in its characterisation and depiction of Punjab, Punjabi families, its people, their temperament and their way of dealing with such sensitive family issues.
(Mild Spoilers Ahead)
Here I am not going into the religious aspect of the presentation like the shorn hair, trimmed beards and turbans worn at will for a time period and then taken off. 
Because, pointing one finger towards these things will also point the rest four towards the most famous names of the Punjabi film industry itself, the people’s icons and then one will have no explanation to counter the logical allegations. But yes, the writer-director could have taken extra care for smoking and other insertions in particular like a marriage song saying “Pandit Ji, Zara Kundli Milao Ji”. Surely the lyricist didn’t write this representing the Sikh families of the film, strangely or rather unknowingly using this specific phrase (that has nothing to do with Sikhism or Sikhs).
But more importantly, the depiction of Punjabi families and the family members in the film never turns out to be real or convincing. Or maybe the director was not even concerned about any authentic portrayal here since PUNJAB was simply added in the narration to grab some instant eyeballs (showing turbaned Abhishek in the posters for example).
Elaborating on the same, none of the supporting characters of the film behave as they naturally ought to in such seriously tense situations, except the music-maker friends of the over-confident DJ, who rightly represent a particular young section of the present Punjab.
Giving you a clear reference, a Punjabi Sikh family in Amritsar, catches a boy in their young daughter’s room with his shirt off and the family members strangely react in a foolishly cool manner, including a young 20+ brother doing simply nothing! And then the incident not even compels the elders to go and meet the family of the boy taking a firm stand from their side as if they are all some kind of undisturbed, enlightened living BUDDHAS. Hilariously the same kind of silent characterization is given to the parents of the NRI husband too, who again say nothing at all, calmly watching their daughter-in-law behaving in such a weird and suspicious manner just after a few days of marriage. 
Honestly, the writer much be kidding or probably had written the story based in a different setting which later got converted to Punjab for the obvious commercial reasons. Just imagine any similar scene in an authentic Punjabi film and the fiery outcome of the incident focusing on the supremely egoistic (armed) elders and their mad-love for their decades old social reputation. 
So it all looked like FAKE to me from the very beginning. Utterly fake, deliberately made-up and nothing convincing at all just to woo the youngsters. And among the most badly conceived, phony scenes remained the one where Abhishek’s friend is teasing the elderly couple talking about honeymoon bookings and where the couple is immaturely talking or behaving right in front of the judge in the divorce court.
In other words, this faulty and unrealistic kind of execution clearly revealed the truth that they had intentionally placed the story in Punjab, just to take the extra advantage of the huge following of Punjabi cinema in the market both within the country and abroad.
For a moment, just visualize this film being made in a different regional setting, in a different state and not Punjab without the Punjabi characters, Punjabi beats and the language based songs running in the backdrop. Missing all these elements, MANMARZIYAAN will crumble like pack of cards, will fall flat and would not be able to convince you even for a few minutes with such a familiar, overused, confused and unconvincing seen-before storyline.
In fact its these catchy elements related to Punjab only, which result in a fairly engrossing first half and the moment that doesn’t remain the focus, the film becomes painfully repetitive and a big drag post intermission, only returning to some sense towards the end in the couple’s mutual conversation.
Another issue in its writing is the characters not going through any transformation in the entire film except one going for the change in the finale sequence, which again remains an intelligent compromise and not any transformation. In other words, nobody in the film goes through a breakthrough or dares to rediscover himself or herself for the love he wants in life. A carefree DJ remains the carefree DJ easily giving up the girl, a calm and sober NRI remains the same till the end accepting everything as it comes and the bold and blunt Punjabi girl refuses to change herself till the separation and then finally goes for a compromise settling down with the person she never loved in the first place. 
Further, many scenes give you the feeling of ‘deja-vu’. Like, mating videos on discovery channel running in the background, the couple shouting together on the roof in the middle of the night and the girl putting ice in the shirt and pants of the boy. Moroever, repeatedly watching the characters failing to make any kind of decision like dumb adults actually takes away all the maturity in the product as per my personal opinion. It looks fine in the beginning representing the present times of indecisive youth, but soon becomes exhausting along with too many songs forcing you to ask how many are there?
What still works in MANMARZIYAAN without any novel content.
The first half works as mentioned above, but more because of the decorative elements, music and the Punjabi settings added in a delightful manner. 
The honesty in this first half works clearly showing that the supposedly loving couple is actually more interested in sex and cannot do without it coming back to each other for the same. So the writer and director at least do not follow any hypocrisy here and openly accept the truth prevailing in the present, that is also the major reason for a big number of breaking relationships. 
Second, a particular sequence works beautifully, giving a clear message to the immature youth, when both Tapsee and Vicky stop on a highway having a sane argument about what to do next, deserving appreciation. 
Third, the craft works and it certainly had to in a Kashyap film as he very well knows how to present it on screen making the best use of cinematography, locations, art-direction, costumes and most importantly the background score. The director thoughtfully dedicates his film to Amrita Pritam incorporating one of her soulful poems and taking inspiration from her real life story too, but I really wish it had the same pure feeling of love represented by the lesser celebrated legend in her own community.
Fourth, the performances work as the three lead actors put in everything they have got only to be deceived by the writing and characterization. Coming from a Sikh family, Tapsee is a complete natural here and I don’t think anyone else could have done this role better. However her hairstyle doesn’t match and looks odd in relation to the Punjabi backdrop chosen by the writer-director.
Vicky Kaushal once again tries to excel in his role entirely different from what he has been doing in the past. And he fairly succeeds in that too, but his portrayal yet again looks like forcibly made loud and happening, exactly like the character of Shahid Kapoor in UDTA PUNJAB (from the same production house and team members). So you truly appreciate his efforts made but he could have been more natural and relatable had the director allowed him to do so.
So for me, the best act of the film is by Abhishek Bachchan who thankfully brings some saneness and maturity back into the film, otherwise getting lost in all fake portrayals. Though he strongly keeps reminding you of a similar act of Ajay Devgn in HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM, but still his eyes do the talking which makes him most impressive of the three in my humble opinion.
Lastly, Amit Trivedi’s music and Shelee’s lyrics work (along with its use in the film), and they together work after a long time in a Hindi film deserving a big applause. Yes the songs are more in number than required and they also might not appeal to the section more habitual of the traditional Hindi film music. But the soundtrack perfectly works for the present generation to be fair and a few songs certainly stand out with some rare, amazing work as ‘Hallaa’, ‘Daryaa’, ‘Dhyaan Chand’ ‘Kundali’ and more. But here again the Punjabi pronunciation is at fault at many places, making it more sound like Hindi mismatching the film’s regional backdrop.
Summing up, MANMARZIYAAN has its merits but the expression of love in it seriously suffers when it gets over-stylized with forced fake portrayals and unreal characterizations. So where I couldn’t enjoy it as I wished to, may be you can enjoy it more being unaware of the actual details and real life references. 
Rating : 1.5 + 1 / 5 (with the additional one for just its enjoyable and well-conceived soundtrack) 

Tags : MANMARZIYAAN Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Inspired Movies, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, Borrowed Concepts
15 Sep 2018 / Comment ( 0 )
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