Of Love, Life and Longing
Abhishek Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and Vicky Kaushal along with director Anurag Kashyap talk to BOI about the recently released film Manmarziyaan and their colourful journey with the movie
BOI: Anurag, you are known for a certain genre. You have made it your signature style. Is Manmarziyaan an attempt to break out of that classic style you are known for?
AK: I have no style. I just stick to the subject. It is always the content that dictates the form. Jaisa subject hai, uske hisaab se hum karenge. I wanted to shoot the love story in a certain way. The film is driven more by the two male characters and the energy of the story is driven by their energy. From their energies, we shoot her (Laughs).
BOI: Love stories used to be a staple of Bollywood at one point. Now, there are fewer love stories being made. Do you think Manmarziyaan has revived the genre?
AK: No, it's not like that. When we watch a love story on the screen, we fantasise about having a romance like that in our lives. I love Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. You would love to have that kind of romance in your life. That is the aspirational kind of romance. For me, Manmarziyaan is the kind of romance that we actually have in our lives. This is how love is. This is the nature of love. I have been dying to tell a love story for a long time. I have attempted it in my own way. Dev D was an attempt. Mukkabaaz was another attempt. Manmarziyaan is an out-and-out love story. It talks about relationships. I was not getting the subject. Jab mila toh maine hadap liya (Smiles).
BOI:This casting for a love triangle is surprising in a good way. What was your reaction when you found out who was on board?
TP: I have never done a love story before this. It was a good thing for me that I finally got to play a part in a love story, after eight years.
AK: She is just not used to men fighting over her.
BOI: But Taapsee, in your first film, Chashme Baddoor, you had guys wooing you.
TP: Yeah, but that was a hardcore comedy. It was not really a love story. When I heard the script, I knew why they wanted me to do it (Laughs).
Abhishek Bachchan (AB): She was like, 'Oh, achcha (Laughs)!"
AK: After my first meeting with her, I took Kanika (Dhillon) aside and said to her, 'This is Rumi! She need not do anything to play her' (Laughs).
TP: That was my reaction too. Anurag directing a love story… the surprise factor was not really the first thing that came to mind. I have not watched too many of his films. I have only watched two or three. I didn't come in with any ideas of doing things in a certain, structured way.
BOI: What did you feel when you found out that Vicky and Abhishek were on board?
TP: Vicky's character in the film, which is also named Vicky, seemed like his alter ego, and Robbie is a Ramji type, just like Abhishek (Laughs). The characters were exactly as we are. They came very close to our real lives. The only person who was out of character was Anurag.
AK: Actually, I was the most in-character in the film.
AK: My alter-ego directed my other films. (Laughs).
TP: This is the first time ever that Anurag Kashyap was his real self in a film.
BOI: Abhishek, what about you? What connected you to this character?
AB: Firstly, I think every actor brings a part of themselves to the characters they play. Also, there is something in the character that they associate with and that pulls them towards it. You will always try and find a similarity, a link. Maybe that is how an actor accepts the role that he is doing. How do I make it mine? How do I make it seem as natural as possible? My character Robbie has a lot of qualities that I would love to have, starting with patience. I am a bit impatient. He is very resolute. He is very strong. There is always a give-and-take between actors and characters. You always take something away from the character that you play, because in the process of living it, you always end up learning so much.
BOI: Vicky, what about you and your bizarre character?
TP: (Cuts in) That is his alter-ego.
AK: This is the most relatable character for him.
VK: Only an Anurag Kashyap or an Aanand L Rai could have seen Vicky Sandhu in me. Only they could have cast me for a part like this. I am grateful that I had a director like Anurag Kashyap, who did not want me to just showcase characteristics, but also explore the character. It was an experience that I cherish. It was an experience that I really enjoyed, just being Vicky Sandhu. He does not think of consequences. He is not programmed like that. I am programmed like that. I think of consequences a lot. Just to be that character for four months and try to play him every day was a liberating process for me.
BOI: Vicky, this is the third film that you have done with Anurag as an actor. You had assisted him before as well. Does the comfort level get better with every film?
VK: I think so. We say that our journey has gone from him being my mentor to now a buddy and friend.
AK: I realise that the way in which I talk to him now is very different from the way I used to talk to him during Raman Raghav 2.0. During that film, I was constantly telling him what to do, where to push, where not to push. Now, we talk like friends. The change happened very organically. All of the characters in this film are realistic. The only character that is slightly aspirational is Robbie. A lot of men wish to be like him, but are not like him. They do not have that kind of patience. This is something that Neeraj Ghaywan told me after he saw the film. He said that Robbie is that character all men want to be.
BOI: We have heard that on an Anurag Kashyap set, scenes are often changed at the last minute. Abhishek and Taapsee, you were working with him for the first time. What was the experience like?
TP: Yeah, but it is not just he who does that. I have worked with other directors who do that.
AK: It is not that we are changing the scene. We are finding the best version of that scene.
VK: Anurag thrives on the unpredictability of a scene – what can happen in that situation then and there? He really thrives on that. He loves it when a scene goes wrong. He doesn't say cut. When a scene is not going according to the script, he explores what might happen next in that world. If a scene goes a different way, he really wants to see that take. That is exactly where he would not say cut.
AK: That is how some very good scenes come about (Laughs). One of the famous instances is the chase sequence in Gangs Of Wasseypur. It happened like that.
BOI: Abhishek, you have been sharing a lot of memories from Manmarziyaan on Instagram lately. Looking back now, what has this journey been like for you?
AB: It's been magical. It is one of the happiest professional experiences of my life. I feel so blessed and thankful to whoever the powers be that made this happen.
BOI: Anurag, at a time when filmmakers are trying to cut down on songs, what made you decide to have a film with 14 songs in it?
AK:I love music.
VK: Best time to come out with an album like this.
AK: Hollywood movies have albums jisme 20-25 songs hote hai. Those songs are used in the background but we used to stop the narrative for the song to begin. Now we're seeing that less and less. Ab, humari kahani rukti nahi hai.
TP: Why did you put those nachne-waale gaane in your film, can you please say?
AK: Because humara narrative aage jaa raha hai naachne se. I know Vicky Kaushal, we used to shoot for Gangs of Wasseypur, and when everyone sat around at night wanting to be entertained, we used to tell Vicky, who was the youngest there, ki naach.