Tuesday , March 21 2023

Raanjhanaa: Love from the by-lanes of Benaras to Canteens of JNU

Published Date: June 24, 2013

First things first. My parents were in Chandigarh this weekend & I requested them to watch a movie along with me. It was to be a historic family moment, for the last time I went to a Cinema theatre with Ma/ Papa was some 20 years ago. This time they weren’t interested, but I insisted. And you know what happens when I insist!

…Only option before us was Raanjhanaa and glad to say, this singular option was worth it because my parents liked it!

Raanjhanaa showcases the two types of love stories characteristic of our India. First kind is the small town love stories weaved in the lanes by not-so-mature desperadoes, who run behind rickshaws, cut slit their nerves, get slapped by the girl but smile, recite shayaris claiming they’ve written it themselves and all such similar exercises. The other type of love story is of a more mature kind, one where the intellect & ideology makes you fall for someone. Where you think you are made for each because your thought processes are on the same plane. The first type is like the medieval bhakti movement, other like the European Renaissance. From the by-lanes of Benaras to the canteens of JNU, Raanjhanaa tries to explore both these genres of Love.

Barring some rare scenes where you find the film needlessly flat, Raanjhanaa is engaging in every bits & pieces. Its able to keep the audience engrossed enough not to know when time passed & its popcorn break. A good effort by Anand Rai given this is only his second directorial venture after Tanu weds Manu. Talking of Music, A R Rahman lives up to his high standards & also shows how music can be used to fast forward the story. I had grown a liking for Irshad Kamil’s poetry since the days of Rockstar. Here also, Rahman’s music coupled with Irshad Kamil’s lyrics has successfully weaved a melodious combo.

With all his constraints & limitations of language & looks, Dhanush has given a superlative performance. He seems real, pure & true all through. For a tamil actor to play a benarsi pandit character, that too in his first Hindi film can be a challenging task. That challenge was eased to an extent by tracing Kundan, the character of Dhanush to Tamil ancestry. Its no hyperbole to say that Raanjhanaa is a dream Bollywood début for Dhanush. The story starts with him, ends with him & it shows him as the truest character. With a guy-next-door features, whatever his dialogues are he wears his heart on his sleeves. To me, the best narration was when Kundan, the sadak-chhap pandit while breaking all ties with his love, an affluent Muslim girl Zoya, played by Sonam Kapoor says, “Tumse pyaar karna Mera talent tha, Tumhara nahi.

Zishaan Ayyub delivers his one-liner punches with aplomb. His character of Murari, the hero’s best friend has again left an impact as he did in Mere Brother ki Dulhan & Jannat. To me, the disappointment was Mr Arvind Gaur, a noted theatre personality synonymous with issues of social concern. Gaur’s role of a third-rate politician, that too not performed to perfection makes him the weak link in Raanjhanaa. Sonam Kapoor has done better than her previous assignments & looks refreshingly innocent in some scenes. Abhay Deol, the fine actor that he is, plays a short cameo with a strong screen presence.

The second half is not as brilliant as the first one, neither in terms of class, nor in terms of entertainment. Talking of the humour element, the first half is a laugh riot against the serious political backdrop of second half. But, post interval Raanjhanaa does take a good dig at sarcasm. The scene where a group of left-thinking students discuss from night till morning upon what to do of a thief they had caught in their campus & why, after all he became a thief is a scathing satire on some of the pseudo-intellectuals. The night long left-oriented deliberations led them to a conclusion that the thief’s poverty & unemployment were the reasons behind why he was one. Ironically, when asked earlier, this was exactly what the thief had answered the moment he was caught climbing the hostel wall furtively.

The concluding scene with Kundan on death bed, alongside a weeping Zoya beautifully summarises the story you’ve been watching for the last two & half hours. A Love that never sufficed is more pure than one that reached its culmination..!!

I’ll rate Raanjhanaa (3.5 out of 5)..!!