Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui REVIEW: Ayushmann, Vaani’s film makes you want to forget its flaw for refreshing take

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Director: Abhishek Kapoor

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana and Vaani Kapoor

Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3.5 stars

 

 

“Love knows no reason, no boundaries, no distance,” H. H. Fowler.

A conversation sparker, with the intention in the right place, yet ends up playing to the stereotypical male prototype, is exactly the thought I had as I made an exit after watching Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui. I don’t know if patriarchy is to blamed or the fact that as an industry, we still can’t move past romanticising ‘machocism’. Director Abhishek Kapoor definitely has the right intent at heart as he puts together a sensitive story of normalising sexuality, as the film enlightens and entertains in equal measures. There is no doubt there. Needless to say though, the skewed and lack of representation from the LGBTQ community is apparent despite the efforts to push the envelope by many folds.

Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui stars the otherwise ‘good boy’ Ayushmann Khurrana (Manu) in a rather different avatar as the Punjabi ‘munda’ who is an annoyingly snarky and narrow-minded sportsman with a dysfunctional family. Enters Vaani Kapoor (Maanvi), a transgirl who joins Manu’s gym as a Zumba instructor with a loving father and a disapproving mother. Manu and Maanvi click right from the beginning with Maanvi helping him with his upcoming competition. All is well, Sex is good, till Manu finds out about Maanvi being a transgirl. Unable to ‘digest’ the reality, the obnoxious Manu even tries to scrub away any trace of Maanvi’s touch, hauls about feeling cheated, and even throws taunts like ‘apne ladkon wali chakkal leke nikal’. Every statement, every word spurred at Maanvi is disturbing yet a deeper look at the society we represent.

 

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Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui traces Manu’s journey of accepting and understanding Maanvi, her being a transgirl, and why no one has the right to take away her basic human rights. As I watched the almost 2 hours film, I realised how Manu is a classic representation of society which can be disgusting when confused. But with him taking measures to acknowledge and understand the community better, he along with the audience is on the Road to redemption, in ways. The audience that perhaps laughed or giggled at the ridiculous taunts thrown at Maanvi for choosing herself, for choosing to live life her own way, for choosing to be a transgirl, perhaps shared a knowing moment with Manu as they reflected and indulged in some self-introspection. So, as I hope. No, films are not ONLY meant to stir a revolution but if done right, they can definitely ruffle a few feathers for a healthy conversation.

While the film certainly leaves you with an afterthought, my major issue with it was the treatment of Maanvi’s character. For me, the story was about Maanvi, her struggles, and her lack of understanding of the LGBTQ community. However, Abhishek Kapoor was obviously bitten by the ‘hero’ syndrome so everything we saw was from the male prism. Yet again, a film wanting to highlight and put to foray LGBTQ community treats the very subject as a secondary or parallel subject whilst playing to the male gallery. I really wanted to understand why couldn’t a story about Maanvi have her take decisions, see her bringing a change in the mentality, her normalising things, focus on her struggles more. It was very evident that the last 5-10 mins of the movie were only to please the audience with ‘machoism’. The treatment of Maanvi’s character felt like a small chapter in a book based on her.

Another issue was dialogues in a few parts, especially in the first half. Again, I want to keep a window open for benefit of the doubt here. I want to believe that dialogues that included words like ‘chakka’, ‘munde de naal sex kar liya’ were meant to make us feel uncomfortable rather than evoke laughter. If that was the purpose, I feel the attempt was slightly half-hearted. Nonetheless, honestly, it did make me cringe. The screenplay, the pace of the film worked for him. I wasn’t bored even for a single moment. The story was engaging.

What I absolutely loved is the fact that they did not underplay the subject, which was my biggest fear. However, I would have loved it if there was more representation in the film from the LGBTQ community itself.

Vaani Kapoor stunned me as Maanvi. This is probably the first time I have enjoyed her performance to the fullest. The discomfort at first, wanting to appear normal, the fear of being judged yet the strength to not let her vulnerability show, the hurt, Vaani embodied Maanvi for me. There are scenes that really stood out for me. In the first scene where she tries to look at herself in the mirror and feel confident, that moment of hesitation and doubt and finally overcoming it is so beautifully shown. The nuances portrayed by Vaani is worth a mention. I wish she was given more space to show her struggles as Maanvi but for me, she was a complete package. What a power-packed performance. Also, kudos to her for taking up a role which perhaps many A-listers would have out-rightly declined. This feels like a new beginning for Vaani!

Coming to Ayushmann, it was refreshing to see him in a completely different role. It was a role reversal for Ayushmann this time. Tables turned for him as the usual preacher in films was the jerk in this one. I completely hated Manu in the first half which goes on to prove how convincingly AK played the role. His character graph too is noticeable. His body transformation is also worth-a-mention. Again, kudos to him for believing and backing a film with a subject which is usually shied upon.

The supporting cast including Aanjjan Srivastav, Kanwaljit Singh, Tanya Abrol, and Girish Dhamija was on point. The music, the cinematography, and the fact that the film was set in the heart of Punjab somehow felt right and convincing.

Watch the film for its refreshing take, bold screenplay, and captivating performances!

ALSO READ: Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui Trailer: Ayushmann Khurrana and Vaani Kapoor set to win hearts with their mind-bending love story