In old interview right before Manmarziyaan’s release, Vicky Kaushal revealed a delightful behind-the-scenes tidbit about the film. He shared how the film’s director, Anurag Kashyap, would break into dance on set each time the music director, Amit Trivedi, sent a new song. Fast forward five years, and Anurag’s audience are still dancing to the tunes of his movie’s original and brilliant soundtrack.
Whether Gangs of Wasseypur’s “Teri Keh Ke Lunga” or Dev D’s “Emosanal Attyachaar”, the music in Anurag Kashyap films had always been a integral part of story-telling and not a stand alone entity used as a token to lure the audience. This is why the songs from his movies continue to resonate, transporting listeners into the cinematic worlds he creates in the film, even without watching the entire movie. In Manmarziyaan, Anurag accomplished this brilliantly with Amit Trivedi as his composer and lyricist Shellee, aka Shailender Singh Sodhi, as his wordsmith.
The film opens on a musical note, with Vicky Kaushal’s character, Vicky Sandhu, making daring leaps across non-linear terraces to meet Taapsee Pannu’s Rumi, all while the song “Grey Walaa Shade” plays in the background. While their chemistry right from the beginning makes us believe that their love is eternal, the song cautions us not mistake this young love story as janam janam ka sath. The lyrics of the song goes, “Kala na safed hai, ishq ka rang yaara grey walaa shade (The colour of love isn’t black and white, it’s the shade of grey )” and “Zamaanaa hai badla, ghise pitey version maaro update (The world has changed so update the old version of love).” In a conservative Amritsar, Rumi and Sandhu have a very open and unabashed love affair. For them, being caught together in a room is inconsequential. But while they are proud to have found the one, the song breaks this illusion for the audience, reminding us that their seemingly uncomplicated love story is far from perfect.
F For Fyaar
“F For Fyaar”, a word devised by Shelle that replaces P of Pyaar with the word F, symbolises the more physical and passionate form of love. This Punjabi bhangra hip-hop number is used in the film to explain the mindset of Vicky whose love for Rumi is passionate but it doesn’t come a lifetime guarantee. “Pyaar yaara tode dil kaddi jodh de, Fyaar yaara strong se palang todh de (Why be in ‘pyaar’, and get hearts broken, when you can break beds with ‘fyaar’?)” This track is strategically placed in the film just before Vicky takes the step of not visiting Rumi’s house after promising her to meet her family for a marriage proposal.
Major Dhyan Chand, who is regarded as the greatest field hockey player in history, wouldn’t in his lifetime thought that his name will be used to refer the character of Rumi, a former hockey player torn between two suitors. But that’s the genius of lyricist Shelle and music director Amit Trivedi who composed the peppy song to depict Rumi’s confusion over choosing between her love Vicky Sandhu and a banker, whom her family has selected. With lyrics like “Dil ghummey aithe othe, Pyaar vich khaaya gote, aise janjaal vich, sadiyaan tey Saale bitey, dhayaan kithe oye Dhayaanchand (Your heart wandered, you have lost love, you are such a mess, where are you looking Dhyanchand)”, the song humourously teases brash, ill-tempered, no-nonsense Rumi for not being able to choose between the two guys. Anurag’s brilliant choice of showing two twins dancing around Taapsee, a symbol of her character’s confused mindset, drives the point home and makes for an unforgettable moment in the film.
Showing a mirror to society is something that Anurag does brilliantly but rarely has he done this through a peppy song. The track “Kundali” has one of the most progressive lyrics of all times. It speaks on important topics like dowry, divorce and domestic violence. It also points out the hypocrisy of our sanskari society and the pressure on woman for being “sarvgun sampan” while a man can be “six to eight pack gunda”. The song also takes a jibe at perfect love stories like DDLJ with lyrics like “Sun pyari Simran, Ja jee le apna Jeevan, Haaye gunda dhoondha ji (Listen Simran, you can go live your life, they have found a goon for you as a husband).” The song also helps us understand the woke, progressive character of Abhishek Bachchan’s Robbie, who falls far Rumi while she dances on this controversial song.
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“Daryaa” was the most popular of all 14 tracks of the Manmarziyan album, and it might be because it reminded many of their first love which was lost. The song was also played at the most emotional point in the film. When Sandhu asks Rumi to run way with him right before her marriage with Robbie but she blatantly rejects his offer. While the teary eyed Sandhu makes you emotional, the song with lyrics like “Tainu khuda manneya, Te tainu rab manneya, Koyi nahi bhullda yaara Jivein tu hai bhulleya (I see the god in you. Nobody forgets people the way you forgot me),” adds to the heartbreak and creates a lump in your throat.
In Manmarziyaan, several other songs such as “Chonch Ladhiyaan,” “Halla,” “Sacchi Mohabbat,” and “Bijlee Giregi” play pivotal roles at crucial junctures in the film, effectively taking the narrative forward. “Chonch Ladhiyaan” encapsulates the titillating romance blossoming between the newlyweds, Robbie and Rumi. On the other hand, “Halla” masterfully portrays Robbie’s frustration as he grapples with Rumi’s inability to reciprocate his love. “Sacchi Mohabbat” and “Bijlee Giregi” are strategically used to intensify the emotions experienced by Taapsee’s character, Rumi.
While the true beauty of Manmarziyaan’s soundtrack is best appreciated within the context of the film, the album, when considered as a standalone entity, is one of the finest musical collections of the decade. Amit Trivedi’s experimental music choices deserve applause, but it’s the enchanting magic of Shellee’s lyrics that eternally preserves the characters of Rumi, Robbie and Vicky.