Starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Vaani Kapoor
Directed by Abhishek Kapoor
The most modest praise for this wonderful film would be that it is by far the best post-Covid Hindi release. Which is not saying much, considering the abysmal near-unpalatable fare that Bollywood has been shamelessly shelling out since the Pandemic.
Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui is quite simply the film everyone must see. It tell us about tolerance, and acceptance without getting preachy and screechy. Director Abhishek Kapoor manages the near-miraculous feat of keeping the tone blithe and buoyant even when the going between the couple gets really rough.
There is a disarmingly fine-tuned moment of pathos running into humour without collision when the film’s lead pair has a showdown on the street of Chandigarh. Two cops, concerned about ‘Bahenji’ stop to inquire.
You have to see the rest of the sequence to know what fluent screenwriting is all about.
Director Abhishek Kapoor has in the past shown us his brilliant side in fits and starts in Rock On (the film that introduced Farhan Akhtar as an actor and singer), Kai Po Che (the one that made Sushant Singh Rajput a movie star) and in Kedarnath ( a smart ingenious idea felled by a clumsy climax).
In the horribly mistitled Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui the writing(by Supratik Sen, Tushar Paranjpe) is clearly on the roll. It flows freely and fluently making space for chuckles and sobs without seeming to be doing anyone a favour.
It is no coincidence that the film’s hero is a beefy brawny Big Moose, Manu a gym instructor who doesn’t think twice before making a fool of himself in public. Manu’s relationship with Maanvi begins with a fart. It cannot go anywhere but up from there. The dizzying romance is filled with clasps, cuddles, kisses and…
And oh yes, the songs which are not particularly likeable. But then who is listening? We have eyes and ears only for the work in progress.
Director Kapoor captures the rhapsodic turmoil of the electrically attracted couple with a purpose. When Maanvi’s big revelation about her gender comes, we know this clunky oafish walking-talking muscle machine will take time to come around.
The aching sweetness and the numbing wait for the apology acceptance and reunion are filmed with a furious fluency. Except for a few overdone sequences of Manu’s two nosy sisters prying into his love life, the narration’s momentum never flags.
I have always believed that a film with a strong social message can only work when the tools of storytelling are well oiled and fully alert and alive to the job on hand. Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui seldom falters in telling it like it is.
Life is often cruel specially to those who are physically and emotionally constructed differently from the mainstream. And in real life, it may not be as easy to get the Manus of the world to accept the Manvis. But hell, at least a film such as this offers hope of an more inclusive society. And it does so with an infectious vivacity.
Using the language of conventional storytelling director Abhishek Kapoor tells us all about accepting the unconventional.
And what a pair of committed lead actors Kapoor has! Ayushmann Khurrana is Manu in body and spirit, a boorish, beefy no-brainer who learns the lessons of love and acceptance the hard way. Khurrana again proves himself one of our finest most committed actors. As for Vani Kapoor, she is a revelation. Sinking into her meaty character of a woman with a gender disorder Ms Kapoor makes Maanvi vulnerable yet strong. Beautiful yet confused. Vani’s Maanvi is heartbreaking.