Synopsis – Manu, a bodybuilder from Chandigarh falls in love with Maanvi, a Zumba teacher. All seems well until a shocking revelation causes turmoil in their love story.
My Take – There is no denying of the fact that Ayushmann Khurrana, having found its niche, has been on a dream run ever since.
From debuting as a leading man in film about a sperm donor to following it up with stories centering around men suffering from erectile dysfunction and premature balding, to straight up playing a gay man, Ayushmann has been consistently and successfully picking out projects which despite containing all the elements of a familiar commercial entertainer are laced with unorthodox subjects few actors would chose to be a part off.
His latest too, which sees him under the direction of Abhishek Kapoor (Kedarnath, Kai Po Che), is swimming in the same stream, and once again manages to meet its high expectations to a great extent. Acting as Ayushmann‘s second LGBTQIA+ film after Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (2020), director Kapoor‘s film is a thoughtful and carefully plotted exploration of prejudice against assigned gender identity.
While the proceedings are constantly tinged with moments of humor, the screenplay never loses sight of what is important and drives home the message of acceptance whole-heartedly. Sure, it is flawed in some ways, however, director Abhishek Kapoor and writers Supratik Sen and Tushar Paranjpe deserve praise for their light-hearted depiction of a serious subject.
The story follows Manvinder ‘Manu’ Munjal (Ayushmann Khurrana), a bodybuilder and fitness trainer, who despite facing heat from his family for still being unmarried, continues to focus on his only goal – to become the heavy weight champion of GOAT (Gabru Of All Time).
But something in him changes when he lays is eyes on Maanvi Brar (Vaani Kapoor), the gym’s new Zumba instructor, who Manu’s gym running business partners, Riz (Gourav Sharma) and Jomo (Gautam Sharma), hired to attract new clientele and to recover their constant loses.
And while the two quickly fall for each other and begin a sexual relationship, Manu’s ideology is hit with a drastic dilemma when he learns about Maanvi’s deep and dark secret.
Running for about 116 minutes, the film is constantly engaging and never goes off track. Right from the build-up to twists to climax, it sticks to its crux without bringing in needless subplots. Indeed, the film pitches a forward-looking idea and starts an important conversation. Here, director Abhishek Kapoor shows immense maturity, sensitivity and restraint while dealing with the story of a transwoman, and showing it onscreen in a respectful manner. Something that our society has still not accepted, the film tries to break away from those stereotypes but not by relying on clichés.
This an out-of-the-box film with a romantic story that has layers of passion, deceit, denial, dilemma and acceptance. And while the film could have done a lot with the story at hand in terms by showing a bit more of what actually happens in real life when people go through such biases in the society based on their gender identity, director Abhishek Kapoor and writers Supratik Sen and Tushar Paranjpe deserve praise for the message sets out to deliver.
It also helps that Ayushmann Khurrana and Vaani Kapoor share crackling chemistry and gloss over the cracks that appear in the script like the sanitization in the climax. Ayushmann Khurrana is convincing with his physical transformation and is fantastic as always. Kudos to him for not only being the torchbearer of quality cinema in Bollywood but holding the place with grace.
While Khurrana deserves all praise, it’s actually Vaani Kapoor who steals the show in a role no young actress would have touched fearing subsequent loss of sex appeal. No other actress could have done it better and the way she fearlessly delivers those dialogues will force you think about that never-ending pain, problems and struggle. The emotions of a transgender and the bond she carries with her father played by Kanwaljit Singh and she effortlessly surrenders herself into the character.
The supporting cast comprising of Gourav Sharma, Gautam Sharma, Aanjjan Srivastav, Girish Dhamija, Karishma Singh, Tanya Abrol and Sawan Rupowali are equally good. On the whole, ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’ is a brave, entertaining and refreshing different love story that definitely deserves a watch.
Directed – Abhishek Kapoor
Rated – PG15
Run Time – 116 minutes