Marjaavaan, a 'violent love story'

Lovers unite: (left to right) Rakul Preet Singh, Sidharth Malhotra, Tara Sutaria, Milap Zaveri

Lovers unite: (left to right) Rakul Preet Singh, Sidharth Malhotra, Tara Sutaria, Milap Zaveri  


Director Milap Zaveri and the cast of his film on creating larger-than-life heroes and villains, and bringing back that Manmohan Desai flavour

Milap Zaveri points out that the best way to describe his new film Marjaavaan is by borrowing the tag line from the 1988 Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit starrer Tezaab - ‘a violent love story’. “I grew up on films by Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra, Mukul Anand, Rajkumar Santoshi, and Sanjay Gupta, one of my mentors, who I have worked with,” says the director. There were also the scripts that acclaimed screenwriting duo Salim-Javed wrote for Amitabh Bachchan, “where the hero was a hero who fought against evil”.

It was Zaveri’s admiration for this commercial cinema, popular especially in the 1970s and ’80s, that resulted in Marjaavaan, a film about love, heroism and revenge which he says he wrote even before the 2018 Satyameva Jayate. According to the director, Marjaavaan promises to take the audiences back to a time in mainstream Indian cinema when action and dialogue-baazi were predominant. Zaveri believes that only directors like Rohit Shetty, Prabhu Deva and Ahmed Khan (with the Baaghi series) are helping to sustain this legacy of our cinema today. “If I can contribute towards keeping desi cinema alive, I would be very happy,” he declares.

Celluloid heroes

Actor Sidharth Malhotra, who has known the director since the time the latter worked as a dialogue writer on Ek Villain, relates how Zaveri would turn up on the sets of the film primarily when action sequences were being shot. “Milap loves this cinema and is convinced by it,” he agrees. Malhotra recalls having a video cassette of Hum at home that he would watch obsessively as a child, adding that they bonded over their shared passion for the genre. The actor, too had followed the work of Bachchan and later Sunny Deol and Sanjay Dutt closely. For Malhotra who plays an orphan living in the slums of Mumbai and operating within the world of the water mafia, Marjaavaan marks the first time in his career that he gets to play, “the quintessential hero”. “I thoroughly enjoyed feeling so strong and powerful on camera,” he admits.

While Malhotra’s character is a reference and tribute to similar characters played by Bachchan over the years, Zaveri shares that in conceiving Riteish Deshmukh’s dwarf villain too, “Amit-ji was a reference”. He speaks of Devaa, a shelved Subhash Ghai project starring Bachchan where the villain was played by actor M.M. Faruqui, better known as Lilliput, it’s “a [piece of] trivia that stayed in [my] subconscious,” he says. Zaveri mentions other popular characters like the ones played by Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones and Samuel L. Jackson in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable trilogy as other inspirations behind his devious and arrogant anti-hero.

Character driven

For Tara Sutaria, who was looking for something radically different after her debut appearance in Student of the Year 2, Marjaavaan offered the perfect opportunity. Sutaria plays a mute girl who brings love and music into the hero’s world. “She’s always carrying a mouth organ on her and he’s always carrying a gun on him,” she explains. The love story is far from conventional and deeply tragic, she informs, citing its singularity as one of two things that drew her to the script. The other was the task of essaying a mute character. “I wanted to learn sign language; I was excited that I could express through my face, eyes and hands,” she emphasises.

Rakul Preet Singh recollects how Zaveri had described her role as similar to Rekha’s in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Tabu’s in Jeet. “She is Chandramukhi to [Malhotra’s] Devdas,” she adds. While the film’s use of an earlier generic device made it stand apart from her previous Hindi film outings such as De De Pyaar De, Singh admits that she was also eager to “challenge [myself] to see if [I] could do the over-the-top dialogues without making them look like hamming,” she declares. Singh visited bars to observe the behaviour and body language of women who worked there and explains that it was the character’s headstrong and fearless nature that appealed to her.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2020 9:56:02 PM |

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