Tag Archives: Husband Material

Movie Review: Manmarziyaan (2018)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Emerging adulthood is a particularly annoying stage of human development. Teenage immaturity is no longer a viable excuse for bad behavior, but many emerging adults are still self-centered enough not to fully appreciate the impact of their actions and choices on those around them or even on their own futures. It was a stage I was glad to grow out of and glad for my friends to grow out of.

It’s a tricky balance to write a drama about emerging adults that feels authentic but isn’t as irritating as real life. Maybe director Anurag Kashyap and writer Kanika Dhillon get things too right in Manmarziyaan (“The Heart’s Wish“, international title “Husband Material“). Two-and-a-half hours of watching characters repeat the same mistakes because they lack the self-knowledge not to is tiresome, even with a tremendous cast in the leading roles.

Headstrong hockey player Rumi’s (Taapsee Pannu) romantic relationship with wannabe DJ Vicky (Vicky Kaushal) is the neighborhood’s worst-kept secret. Sick of the local gossip, Rumi’s family tells her to marry Vicky, or they’ll find a groom for her.

For Rumi, the solution is easy. An engagement will pacify her family indefinitely, and she and Vicky have professed their love to each other anyway. But Vicky is happy the way things are, with all the sex he wants and none of the responsibility that comes with a publicly acknowledged relationship.

As immature as Vicky is, Rumi isn’t much better. She spends far too long ignoring the reality Vicky presents to her and wishing for him to be someone he’s not. She accepts a marriage proposal secured by her family as a means of punishing Vicky, not really considering that the groom-to-be, London banker Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan), thinks he’s getting a wife, not some other guy’s spiteful girlfriend.

The first half of Manmarziyaan is so dense with material that the interval break comes as something of a surprise, resetting the story right when it seems to be nearing a conclusion. The film shifts focus from how Vicky’s immaturity ruins his relationship with Rumi to how Rumi’s immaturity ruins her relationship with Robbie. It’s too much of the same thing.

The bigger question is why Robbie thinks Rumi is worth all the trouble, since he really doesn’t know much about her. She gives him the silent treatment when he asks her questions — that is when she’s not sneaking off by herself. Why would someone as ready for marriage as Robbie is put up with her petulance for as long as he does?

Robbie claims that he wants an unconventional bride, and Rumi’s vivacity intrigues him more than other, more demure candidates suggested by the matchmaker. But when Rumi and Robbie are together, she behaves much like a conventional housewife, cooking and waiting up late for him. There’s no discussion of how her other interests — playing hockey and working at her family’s sporting goods store — fit in with married life, or how she’d spend her days if it was just her and Vicky in London, with no family or friends around. The movie makes it seem as though the only obstacle between Rumi and wedded bliss with Robbie is Vicky, but maybe the version of married life Robbie offers her is part of the problem.

It’s not the cast’s fault that Manmarziyaan doesn’t quite work. Pannu’s spiritedness is balanced by Bachchan’s steadfastness. Kaushal goes full-tilt with Vicky, especially during Amit Trivedi’s great song “DhayaanChand” (one of several songs in the film to feature the twin hip-hop dancers Poonam & Priyanka, who steal the whole movie). The soundtrack overall is quite good.

Watching the characters in Manmarziyaan repeat the same mistakes over and over brought back memories of a time when my friends and I made ourselves unhappier than we should have been by trying to force relationships to work that never could. It was a relief to grow out of that phase. I wish the characters in the film had done so sooner.

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Bollywood Box Office: September 17, 2018

After its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Manmarziyaan — aka “Husband Material” — had a good opening weekend in North America. From September 14-16, 2018, Manmarziyaan earned $292,463 from 100 theaters ($2,925 average), according to figures provided by Sumit Chadha. The weekend’s other new release — the Jackky Bhagnani comedy Mitron — fared predictably poorly, bringing in $7,674 from 13 theaters ($590 average).

Forty Hindi films (including a few multilingual movies) have released in North America in so far in 2018, making it a convenient time to establish benchmarks for success by separating those movies into quartiles (figures below are estimates because I like round numbers). Based on total North American earnings, the bottom quartile includes titles that earned less than $80,000. The second quartile ranges from $80,000 to about $300,000, with the next ranging from $300,000 up to $1.1 million. Essentially, a movie needs to earn more than $1 million to make it into the top quartile here, but just $300,000 to make it into the top half.

Other Hindi films still showing in North American theaters:

  • Stree: Week 3; $96,170 from 41 theaters; $2,346 average; $665,464 total
  • Gold: Week 5; $2,118 from two theaters; $1,059 average; $1,127,974 total
  • Paltan: Week 2; $470 from three theaters; $157 average; $17,923 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Sumit Chadha

Opening September 14: Manmarziyaan and Mitron

After its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Manmarziyaan — known internationally as “Husband Material” — hits Chicago area theaters on September 14, 2018. The romantic drama from director Anurag Kashyap stars Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, and Abhishek Bachchan.

Manmarziyaan opens Friday at the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a runtime of 2 hrs. 36 min.

Also new this weekend is the Jackky Bhagnani comedy Mitron, which no one outside of the Bhagnani family is excited about. It opens Friday at the South Barrington 24 and MovieMax Cinemas in Niles.

Stree and Paltan carry over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24, which also holds over Gold.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend: