Cast: Dhanush, Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol, Swara Bhaskar, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub
Direction: Aanand L Rai
Rating: *** ½
‘Raanjhanaa’ is like a Shakespearean tragedy, rendering an unusual love story that is so rare to find these days. Brilliantly filmed in the colour-soaked bylanes of Benares, the first half is a visual treat. Much like the director’s first film ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ (2011), the second of the film suffers because of the slow pace and a somewhat hurried resolution.
Dhanush may not have the looks, the physique or the charm of a typical Bollywood hero but I haven’t seen another lover as charismatic as our Kundan of ‘Raanjhaana’. Son of a Hindu priest falls hopelessly in love with a Muslim girl, Zoya (Sonam Kapoor) and this relationship is impossible in the U.P. heartland. Our ‘Raanjhanaa’ however, refuses to yield, he will do anything to get his girl; follow her everywhere, slash his wrists, even wait for her for eight long years when she is packed off to Aligarh. And each of this is done in typical Dhanush-style; he makes little moments memorable, like the impromptu jig he breaks into every time he is slapped by the object of his affection, the time when he forgets the line from a shayari while proposing, impulsive actions prompted by his need to escape an all-encompassing guilt or the quiet acceptance when he realizes that Zoya’s affirmation of love doesn’t quite ring true. Dhanush’s performance tugs at your heart with a rare sincerity and an honest portrayal worthy of praise.
At times, Dhanush seems to be going down a delusional path expecting the impossible but at every step, he has the unflinching support of his childhood friend played by Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub. Their friendship and the perfect understanding they share make for one of the most praiseworthy aspects of the film.
Swara Bhaskar, who plays the delectable Bindiya, ably compliments these two. She has forever been in love with Kundan (Dhanush), he doesn’t reciprocate her love but manages to coerce her to still do favours for him. Bindiya is as helplessly in love with Kundan as he is in love with Zoya and yet, he fails to understand her feelings. At a certain level he is so self-absorbed about his obsession with Zoya that he cares little about his family and friends who care about him.
The second half focuses too much on Zoya’s silences, her latent grief and anger that she internalizes and never really vents. Haven’t we dabbled too long on the shades of grey? It would have been great to see the director make a departure from the oft trodden path and have Sonam unapologetically complete her vindication. The climax just falls short of our expectations when it refrains from taking the big leap and instead choses to play it safe.
Despite the flaws, ‘Raanjhanaa’ is immensely watchable, Dhanush is effortless as he makes us smile and tear-up as easily. A. R. Rahman’s music, especially the ‘Piya milenge’ song works like magic with this intense saga.
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