Sex

The ‘Manmarziyaan’ Guide To Millennial Dating

Swipe, slide and spoilers aside, we pinpoint the most common millennial courtship patterns that lurk between the lines of Anurag Kashyap’s latest film.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
Illustration: Prianka Jain.

If your post-mortem of Anurag Kashyap’s recent rom-com drama Manmarziyaan involves a facepalm and a burning question of why the fuck the characters just can’t seem to make up their minds, you probably aren’t a millennial. Or at least, don’t date like one.

Known for indulging in the most toxic dating culture of our times, millennials are a breed capable of turning simple rom-coms into a matter of complications. They’re the kind who want relationships with no strings attached and yet play around with commitment possibilities. It is this sentiment that Kashyap’s film captures perfectly.

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Set in Amritsar, the film tracks moments from a proverbial love triangle. It starts with Rumi, the fiery female lead portrayed by Tapsee Pannu, and her tinder-hook-up-turned-lover Vicky Sandhu aka DJ Sandz (Vicky Kaushal) who are caught in the midst of a heated sex session by her ‘respectable hockey family’. They compel her to marry the aankhon ka taara (apple of the eye) of every arranged marriage, the reposefully resilient Robbie Singh, emoted by a mostly-mute Abhishek Bachchan, when she fails to convince Vicky to officially ask for her hand in marriage. An aesthetic depiction featuring small-town slang, a mesmerising background score and shots of stuffed kulchas, the film side-steps Kashyap’s usual twisted take on gritty life and substitutes it with the emotional unravelling of the young and the restless.

What makes this 150-minute long tale as old as time refreshingly pleasant is how on point it is on the concept of messy millennial love. It effortlessly acknowledges the indecisiveness and insecurity of a generation of social media spawns, who are infatuated by the idea of love rather than its actual commitment. But in case you were too busy focusing on Kaushal’s neatly carved side-cut or the beauty of Bachchan’s silence, here’s a handy guide to all the millennial dating trends this movie weaves into its narrative. Spoilers ahead.

Cushioning/Benching: A term which refers to keeping multiple suitors afloat to satisfy your attention craving, cushioning is probably the main plot of the movie in a nutshell. Throwing herself into an arranged marriage with an absolute stranger just to assuage her anger towards her commitment-phobe wastrel of a boyfriend, Rumi’s emotional choices may as well be the embodiment of benching.

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Breadcrumbing: At their first arranged marriage meeting, while Robbie sips chai and tries not to instantly jizz his pants, it’s fairly obvious that Rumi’s mind is occupied elsewhere. She may have thrown in a laugh to humour the poor chap and make him feel less like he was venturing into a doomed trap, but Rumi is clearly leading him down a trail of breadcrumbs that we assume will ultimately be devoured by someone else.

Ghosting: As heart-breaking as it is to watch Rumi’s relentless failed attempts to get in touch with Vicky, who ditches his own marriage proposal plan to hang out at a chaiwala, there’s no denying we’ve all been on the other side of that shrill telephone siren. Because really now, what ghost could be scarier than commitment?

Gatsbying: Vicky’s public display of disinterest to piss Rumi off in a way that will “help her move on but hopefully not hate him” falls short of any Jay Gatsby-level dedication to the game. Yet, we see him basically Gatsbying, pretending that his life is greater than it actually is for the sake of her attention—when he sends her a video with his new angrezi-accented girlfriend. Infuriating as it is that the film is probably playing on the notion that a foreigner is an instant excuse for insecurity, Rumi should have probably thought twice before bragging about her suhagraat night-stand over text, and maybe taken some time off self-pitying to actually take into account the feelings of her new husband.

Zombie-ing: While Vicky doesn’t exactly resurface on Rumi’s social media to drop random ‘likes’, his Zombie-like rise from the dead is accompanied by a daring confession to his ex-lover’s new husband. It’s an empty apology for a folly he could have easily avoided but for some frustrating reason chose not to.

Social Media Stalking: The film left no opportunity to mention ‘Tinder’ untouched, but what truly sums up this generation’s concept of love is how some creepy Facebook stalking was all Robbie needed to confirm his infatuation for Rumi and how it basically brought them together.