Characters & Colours: Of A More Sentimental Augustus Waters Versus A Jovial Manny

Starting today we will be carrying a weekly column Characters & Colours by Manisha Mishra every Sunday on a character in literature and how s/he has been portrayed in the original work and subsequent adaptations

After the release of ‘Dil Bechara’ on July 24, the protagonist Immanuel Rajput Junior aka Manny has attracted much attention. Fans of Sushant Singh Rajput are happy to see him alive again, at least on screen. Actor Kriti Sanon, in her Instagram handle writes: “In Manny, I saw YOU come alive in so so many moments. I knew exactly where you had put in a bit of yourself in the character.” Sushant’s sudden demise on June 14 left millions bereft of words.

Only some of us know Manny, created by scriptwriters Shashank Khaitan and Suprotim Sengupta, is based on Augustus Waters – the central character of John Green’s ‘The Fault in our Stars’. John Greene describes Augustus as: “Long and leanly muscular, he dwarfed the molded plastic elementary school chair he was sitting in. Mahogany hair, straight and short.” Manny sits into that bookish description quite well except the mahogany hair and blue eyes of Augustus that would not be suitable in the Indian context. Both the English and the Hindi adaptations of John Green’s ‘The Fault in our Stars’ portray Augustus Waters (or Manny) as a natural charmer with an enigmatic smile and twinkling eyes.

In ‘Dil Bechara’ Manny comes across as a more jovial character than Augustus. His effortless tomfoolery wins hearts. Manny is a die-hard fan of South Indian actor Rajnikant. In contrast, the anguished expressions of Augustus, portrayed by Ansel Elgort in the American feature film, fits into Greene’s philosophical take: “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” He is the more sentimental lover. The charisma of Manny lies in his mischievous demeanour. Augustus, popularly known as Gus in the movie, is more coy and mushy, seemingly more stable. He is like a pillar – always there for Hazel. Manny deems it his duty to bring a smile to the face of Kizie Basu every day. Manny is the more eager lover, not reluctant to pursue Kizie even when her mother is around. In short, Gus gives you the butterflies-in-the belly, soft sparks of romance by his killer smile and Manny gives you the humorous, passionate vibes by his equally endearing smile and compelling gestures of love.

Both Augustus and Manny hardly wear their hearts on their sleeves. They forget their pain to bring happiness to their respective lovers – Hazel and Kizie. They are selfless, passionate, determined and want to make a mark in the world before they die, however transient their lives may seem. Both are scared of oblivion. They are brave enough to attend their own funeral before their deaths. The pathos created by the character of Augustus and Manny are equally heart-rending and the tragedy looks more alarming in the guise of both actors – Sushant and Ansel.

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