Raanjhanaa is not your run-of-the-mill romance. Himanshu Sharma weaves a twisted love story of a Tamil “Hindu” Boy (Dhanush), brought up in Varanasi, hopelessly in love with a Muslim Girl (Sonam). And it’s not religion that is the real problem between them; it’s just that the boy never really reaches the socio-economic and intellectual standing that the girl wants. She loves someone else (Abhay Deol), but things take a tragic turn and all goes downhill from there.
Aanand Rai, the director of Tanu Weds Manu, has a penchant for surprising you with Out of the Box stuff. It worked then and it surely works here too. Based in Banaras, he film is a riot of colours and Anand captures the spirit beautifully. His characters are vivid and leave an impact, especially Dhanush’s friends Murari (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) and Bindiya (Swara Bhaskar). Murari gets the best one-liners and delivers them with precision, while Bindiya plays the jilted lover with aplomb. Their friendship is the most beautiful part of the movie, because they seem to be actually living it. Bindiya is one amongst the boys and it’s really heartening to see such a carefree portrayal.
Aanand and Himanshu get the small town nuances right, and it’s only when the story moves into its second act that they start to falter. From the point that the film turns into a political mumbo-jumbo, all logic goes to the toilet. Dhanush’s rise is nothing short of idiocy and you wonder why you have to sit through that. Even Abhay’s character is a little weak and he doesn’t feel like the leader he is meant to be. The music though as expansive as the canvas, is rehashed stuff from A.R.Rahman. Everything that plays in the background reminds you of something he has already done.
Sonam Kapoor gets full marks here for trying to act, but unfortunately a wooden face betrays her. Her character is a real confused one. She is supposed to be strong and progressive, yet she cuts off her wrist when the chips are down. She remembers every detail of her life from the time she is forced to leave Banaras, but she cannot recognize the very person that caused the problems! No matter how hard Sonam tries, it’s still effort acting and when it comes to showing rage, she falls quiet badly. Whereas Dhanush effortlessly blends into the environment and is the real thread that binds the film together. There are times when you can see the Tamil megastar peep out, but he mostly stays in character. He exudes such confidence in playing the small time nobody that you feel for his love. You want him to succeed, yet you know he never will. And that is what makes you think about the movie way after its final credits.
If you don’t mind clichés like ‘Cutting off your wrist’ when you don’t get your love, some harmless stalking and don’t mind sitting through a mediocre second half, this is well worth the visit to the theatre. It will involve you and you will feel it. And Dhanush.. You might love him or hate him, but you won’t be able to ignore him. I have had enough of these mainstream actors playing Sardars, Tamilians etc.. When you do that, the characters are clichéd. Only when you pick actors from that region, do you get the real flavour (unless the actor is really good). So go ahead, watch the film coz this Dhanush deserves a bow!
Rating: 7/10 – for surprising me.