Raanjhanaa: The film with 5 a’s in its title has finally hit theatres today. To describe a film in that manner would be undermining the film but I couldn’t resist myself. Anand L Rai hit the jackpot with his sweet, innocent UP flavoured love story Tanu Weds Manu. That film was an underdog film and did well for itself. Raanjhanaa also has the same vibe about it. The National Award Winning actor Dhanush forays into Bollywood from the Southern film Industry with his maiden Hindi film outing. Sonam is back amid murmurs she may finally get her acting career back on track. Let’s see how successful all these people are in their attempts, and if the film works or not.
Story: Raanjhanaa reeks of innocence. It is centered around Kundan (Dhanush) who is a Hindu pandit living in Varanasi. He falls in love with a Muslim girl called Zoya (Sonam Kapoor). Zoya is sent to Aligarh for her higher studies and then lands up in Delhi where she meets and falls in love with Akram (Abhay Deol), who is a student leader. A complicated love triangle ensues in the second half with most of the story shifting focus from the love to the world of politics and then again back to the love. Himanshu Sharma manages to write one of the better first halves of 2013, but muddles it up by trying to do a bit too much in the second half. The curse of the second half strikes Hindi Cinema. Yet again!
Raanjhanaa Movie Review
Direction: The intentions of Aanand L Rai seem genuine. He wants to show us the world where he grew up in, wants to romanticize the feeling of nostalgia and unrequited love. But where he falters in, is when he gets out of this zone and tackles issues like revolution and student politics. He undoes the damage a bit with an unpredictable climax that hits you hard.
One of the best things to have happened to Hindi cinema in recent times is the shifting of stories from the gorgeous foreign locales to the raw and equally gorgeous heartland of India. And, this is why Raanjhanaa looks like a special film. Varanasi has seldom been shown in a better manner. The Directors of Photography (Natarajan Subramaniam and Vishal Sinha) deserve praise for this particular accomplishment. The editing is also appropriate.
Music and Background Score: Any film with music by A.R. Rahman is special. We always expect music par excellence from the genius. In Raanjhanaa, he delivers traces of his genius but a part of you is left disappointed. This is not to say the songs are not good. The title track, Tum Tak and Tu Mun Shudhi do stay with you. The background score also lends authenticity to the film’s milieu.
Acting: Dhanush makes his Bollywood debut, and he is a charmer in the unlikeliest of ways. The way he plays Kundan reminds you of Shahrukh Khan in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. He oozes tenderness, optimism and unbridled hope as the forlorn lover. I would love to see more of Dhanush, although roles for him will be limited. Sonam Kapoor gives her career best performance in Raanjhanaa. She plays Zoya with a mystified energy, never falls into the trap of stereotypes. Abhay Deol has limited scope, but manages to catch your attention. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is a livewire. Having seen him in a few other films, I think he deserves to get more significant roles. Swara Bhaskar, as usual, is at her best.
Conclusion: If you are expecting a full-on love story, Raanjhanaa manages to not fulfill those expectations. But as a film, it works. If the makers had shown the other elements of this story in their trailers, the viewers would not have been left disappointed. Either way, it makes you nostalgic about smaller towns of India and I wouldn’t mind spending more time in the world of this film.
Box Office: Raanjhanaa has opened to a decent response, and I see the film going the way of Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (even though Raanjhaana appeals to a wider taste palette than that film). The budget will be recovered.
- The Varanasi Setting
- Dhanush and Sonam
- The acting by almost everyone is very good
- The music
- The first half is very close to perfection
- The muddled second half
- Genre change midway through the film