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17 Sep

We watched Manmarziyaan to figure out why it got banned in Pakistan

I needed to know why Pakistani audiences weren’t supposed to watch Anurag Kashyap’s recent creation, so got my hands on a pirated version available online (guilty as charged) and here’s my take…

Two minutes into the trailer of Manmarziyaan and you know that the premise is about the proverbial love triangle, but has this twisted camaraderie ever been done like this before? Anurag has set a precedent with dark and complex stories, which can be interpreted in more than one ways, however, with this post-modernistic Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam-esque plot (no other parallels drawn whatsoever) the director manages to address the young lovers who prefer fyaar (interpreted as F***ing love in the film).

The story, set in Amritsar, features a former hockey player, Rumi (Taapsee Pannu) who is an embodiment of everything the title suggests – man ki marzi. She is moody, erratic and impulsive and doesn’t think twice about the damages and heartbreak she leaves behind. Her love interest though is her polar opposite; a blue haired, shaved head Devdas-type, Vicky (Vicky Kaushal). He is an indifferent, jobless self-proclaimed DJ whose only skill is jumping from roof to roof to reach his girlfriend’s window. When caught and asked to send a proposal, a good-hearted but commitment-phobic Vicky goes astray and here enters Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan), a London return-Ram jee type suitor, who falls in love at first sight with Rumi.



The first half of the story travels through the usual ‘girl leaves wild lover for a good boy’ passage – Vicky loves Rumi who loves Vicky but marries Robbie – yes, it not only sounds twisted but in execution is an emotionally complex story of infectious passion and restrained but unfeigned love. Anurag’s take on love being a fundamentally flawed concept keeps this movie au courant. It also promises that “love isn’t complicated but people are” and it manages to deliver. While the second half staggers a bit with repetitive conflicts, the exceptionally talented leads – Vicky and Taapsee – gave brilliant performances to keep you hooked. The writing is mature and crisp when it comes to portraying emotional trauma.

The song ‘Grey Walaa Shades’ that opens the film defines the journey of the three main characters who are anything but black and white. Even in moments of extreme agitation, there’s something so relatable yet appalling about them.

So I watched the film and by intermission could see why the movie has been banned in Pakistan. The CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) mentioned that the film has scenes which are against their censorship code. Visually it’s nowhere close to what Veere Di Wedding showed. However, the film has open conversations about sex and shows a somewhat open extra marital affair. It demonstrates how families can be supportive about a girl’s relationship and approves a woman drinking. There’s approval of ‘immoral’ behaviour. This new-age love story has randomness and relevance and isn’t a typical love saga; it doesn’t gloss things over but proudly show how human beings – if dug deep, will reveal inhibitions. Perhaps this is one obscure ground for why it got banned in Pakistan. There may be other reasons. Who knows what goes in our censor board’s head?


Syeda Zehra

The author is Assistant Editor at Something Haute. A journalist by profession, the writer has a penchant for films, fashion and music.

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