Raanjhanaa – Everything For Love
‘Raanjhanaa’ – we don’t see men like that anymore – men who are willing to annihilate themselves, subsume themselves for the woman they love, bringing almost a noble, heroic luster to unrequited, unconditional love. ‘Ranjhanaa’ is a Grecian tragedy set in Varanasi, on the ghats and alleys of the holy city and you won’t forget it easily.
It all starts when Kundan, the joyous young 8-year-old son of a Tamil Hindu pandit falls for the child Zoya, a Muslim girl. This hero worship, no-holds barred love becomes the over-riding passion of the teenaged Kundan’s life and persists even when the two are separated for eight long years. But life moves on and for Zoya, now a svelte college student at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, everything centers around a handsome dynamic student leader. Kundan has not, cannot, move on. He is still the boy, the launda from Benares. For him, everything begins and ends with Zoya. Can he still win her affection with his single-minded devotion? Or will the vicissitudes of life envelop them in the complexities of religious differences, intellectual superiority and class?
Dhanush and Tum Tak
I have to admit the film became somewhat of an obsession with me when I saw the pre-release Youtube videos of some of AR Rahman’s songs. They totally blew me away, especially the song ‘Tum Tak’ – so rich in its Sufi textures, so overwhelmingly about a higher love that it had me totally obsessed. I found myself watching the videos again and again, trying to piece together the story from dialogues.
When the movie came out, I was there right in the front char anna class, like a genuine filmi fan, drinking it all in. I was not disappointed. The movie delivers on all counts – yes, there were some logical questions I have for the director, points which I felt were goof-ups but no spoilers for the readers who haven’t seen the movie. Just go – and you will have a rewarding afternoon. If you’ve forgotten what love is all about, you’ll learn again.
Without doubt, Dhanush is the lifeblood of the movie, the reason for its being. A superstar in the South, this is his Hindi film debut. He carries the film on his talent. He may be plain, not Bollywood hero like, but when he’s on the screen it’s hard to look at anyone else. The first half is so full of his joy and exuberance that it practically runs on his energy. As things get more complex, you see him angry, hurt, manipulative – and always human. When he breaks down and weeps, you want to weep with him. It is one of the finest performances I’ve seen in recent years. The role is stitched, like a Banarasi kurta, just for him and he shines in it.
Raanjhanaa – Dhanush, Sonam Kapoor & Abhay Deol, Love Triangle
Sonam Kapoor is a big surprise in this movie – the beauty queen, svelte star of the red carpets at Cannes – is very believable and very lovely as the vulnerable young Zoya and conveys innocence and exuberance. In the second half the story moves away from Benares to uncharted territory and to twists in the plot, and Sonam gets to show the nuances of her character, flaws and all. She comes across as very real, very human too. It is a complex role and Sonam does justice to it.
Abhay Deol is extremely likeable and natural as the third angle in this love triangle and though his role is short he makes an impact. In fact, the size of the role does not seem to matter in this movie: Muhammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Swara Bhaskar both have smaller roles as friends of Kundan but give the film much of its humor and pathos.
AR Rahman’s music is magical and the songs propel the story and give it much of its emotion. The city of Varanasi is beautifully shot and adds so much color and character to the film. Kudos to director Aanand L Rai who brings the stories of small towns and modest dreams to the big screen with a sure hand. These wonderful tales of ordinary people with such bitter-sweet lives and loves take place in the small towns and bazaars of bustling cities, and it’s nice to be able to pause on a ghat and catch these stories which have not been told before.
I can’t recommend it enough – go and watch, preferably with a loved one. Then you’ll appreciate how wonderful it is to love someone and have your love reciprocated! Dhanush is definitely an actor to watch and ‘Raanjhanaa’ a film that you’ll remember for a long time.