A love story in present day Indian Society 2018. Here the villains are not the parents or the socio economic disparity but the mind of the characters itself. Aptly titled “the will of the mind”, or as the groom says, “you have a choice”.

The tempestuous, volatile, manipulative heroine is the main character with a choice to make. Love or marriage, or both!! When ‘caught’ with her boyfriend inside her room, where they had just made out, marriage becomes the only option-socially. And, because the boyfriend is unable to decide, Rumi (lead female) tells her family to marry her off to anyone. But she then runs away and returns, and tries to run away again. Then gets married and then displaces her anger towards the boyfriend onto her husband. Then chills with him for a few moments and then broods again, then has her first night, and then goes back home to meet her ex. Then makes out with him and then worries about “how can I go home”! Then returns and then goes off again to meet her ex.

This is behaviour that may be seen as crazy by many, but it does happen. I see many men and women who despite being in a relationship are unable to marry their partner, but are neither able to make the choice of leaving that behind nor able to begin from scratch a new one-marriage! Even after the social relationship has been ratified, the love persists and the mind is in turmoil. Who do I love more, how do I leave one relationship, why should I care for just one person now that I am married; these are thoughts and issues that bother a lot of newly married men and women.

My role is to take a step by step approach. First identify how strong the relationship was, then assess what is keeping it strong even though there is some will to push the past away. Secondly, what is keeping the new relationship going; is it only social pressure or is it the lack of reciprocity from the ex that is contributing. Often the latter is true, just as shown in the movie. It is the decision that is the most difficult and often the person seeking help, doesn’t know and is unable to identify what he/she wants.

Getting one to vent out feelings, thoughts and emotions are often the helpful things I do in the first 1-2 sessions. Giving a little homework, about making lists of pros and cons does help, but not much. More often than not, the new relationship is given priority, and work begins at my end to help kill the past. Wherever, the death of the previous relationship is accepted, grieving happens in therapy and recovery begins. This is hampered by phone communication, esp. chatting apps like whatsapp etc. When the mind doesn’t wish to forget the past, then the grief prolongs suffering and slows recovery. This is further aggravated by any face to face meetings between the ex-partners.

In very strong emotional turmoil, I do have to often use benzos to calm down the blizzard inside the mind, and have sometimes used stronger sedatives when faced with impulsive thoughts of death or self-harm. A sense of decision is usually reached in 2-3 weeks and from thereon, it is a slow but steady progressive path to good mental health.

What about the ex?! Vicky, the character in the movie who is unable to commit to marriage and who runs away with the bride once, (but not the second time) is a lustful soul, who wants his sex but not the commitment or marriage. In the movie, the parents are not stopping his choice, it is he himself who is certain that he does not want marriage, just love! Perhaps, he doesn’t know what he wants, perhaps he just wants what his heart desires at that moment with little thought to the long term prospects. From my perspective, the best part in the movie when Vicky’s father talks about his fault in the way Vicky has developed. Fulfilling all material demands of his son, even though those things bought with money were never loved or given importance for more than a moment, they were obtained, stamped as Vicky’s possession and then thrown away. Vicky’s indecisiveness about marriage is perhaps less a commitment phobia and more an aversion to give up his fun filled life where his father bank rolls his needs and his material demands. Unfortunately, there are many such young persons who are pampered by their parents into being happy with short term gratification rather than planning a long term story too.

I see persons who have lost out and their ex has been married. The difficulty is that they approach me after the event has happened. The ‘choice’ now is usually to try and bury the past which is not easily done. The guilt and self-blame of what I did wrong, what I should have done, what could have been done, often keeps pestering and makes life difficult. There is very little in the present that is comforting for such ex’s. Many are infact NOT getting any love from their families who either do not know of the relationship or are the reason for it not being formalised. Alone, and racked with negative ruminations about self, these are usually best benefited with medicines. Some dislike treatment initially as they realise it is blurring the past and blinded by love as they are, they do not want to let go! Supportive therapy is usually the key here. 2-3 months of treatment and its back to normal life, the enthusiasm and the chance of a new relationship too!

Looking at Abhishek Bachhan’s character in Manmarziyan, I was at a loss as to why, knowing about the ongoing affair, he still went ahead with the marriage. I haven’t come across, yet, onto someone like Robbie. Having said that, on numerous occasions, the spouse who discovers his/her partner having an ongoing relationship with the ex, is also at my clinic. The trust issue of having being lied to, is the foremost negative emotion that causes suffering. Often there is no way of confirming or denying what is happening, because communication between the newly-weds on this issue is not an option. The indecisiveness (of talking about it) stems from the dilemma of being labelled suspicious or downright dirty, to pushing the infidel partner to be more open about his illicit affair or to end the marriage leading to social ostracism.

With channels of verbal ventilation being blocked at home, what I do is provide a safe, non-judgemental, supportive environment to express feelings of anger, grief and fear. Having lightened the emotional burden, the next step is to help resolve the feeling of inadequacy that strives from the thought, “he/she doesn’t like me, hence the ex is still continuing . . . . . . I am not good enough . . . . . I do not deserve him/her etc”.

Simultaneously, I begin the process of nudging towards a positive self-belief that can strengthen from within and hopefully embolden a decision – to continue or not to continue. Believe me, offering a choice to the spouse is an option ONLY if you have decided the boundaries of the choice yourself. Please, the choice has to have a time frame, it is not unlimited, otherwise the relationship will move from one crisis to another. In this movie, the choice seems to have no time frame and hence it ends in a crisis. The movie, of course, takes the crisis and turns it onto a fairy tale ending, but then that is what entertainment is about, it is not real life.