The movie took us through different emotions and circumstances, some we could relate to and some that will linger in our minds for a long time
If you asked us to describe Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor’s Raanjhanaa, we would say it’s commercial and offbeat at the same time. The first half is pleasantly filmi, laced with romance and the childish high of being in love, whereas the second half takes you into the murky world of politics, with the passionate youth of Jawaharlal Nehru University trying to douse the fire of corruption and everything that’s affecting the country.
Aanand L Rai does a brilliant job of merging romance and politics in an extremely understandable way. So the romance bit obviously has to start with Dhanush – the superstar who doesn’t look like a superstar. Recently Sonam said in an interview that one doesn’t need language to emote, and in Dhanush’s case we couldn’t agree more. The dubbing is decent and the South actor’s way of translating scenes from paper to screen is remarkable. A small town guy Kundan’s (Dhanush) life revolves around Zoya (Sonam Kapoor). He is enamoured of everything to do with her. From fearlessly cutting his wrist to chasing her through every nook and cranny of Benares – the guy fell crazy in love the moment he saw ten-year-old Zoya reading namaz. And it remained that way when they reached their adolescent teen phase, and continued to be that way till they hit the rebellious period of their 20s.
But things changed when Zoya was sent away to study by her parents – they couldn’t tolerate their kiddie daughter having even the slightest feelings for a Hindu boy. And by the time she returns, things have changed…drastically! The small town gal from Benares is transformed into an opinionated and confident lass from Delhi with a degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University – the gullible school going Zoya becomes a fierce gal from the big city who would perform street plays with her activist friends, battle water cannon and discuss the status quo of the country with a fervent air.
While Zoya was wheeling around in different directions, meeting new people, learning new things, Kundan was stuck in the same spot – he was the same small town lad from Benares waiting for the gal he loves, the same lad who doesn’t have a care in the world, making a living doing odd jobs and every so often falling into a reverie filled with thoughts of Zoya. But despite the hurdles of different castes, different ideologies, the unusual combination of a well-read gal and a gawaar guy, they are still friends. And if Dhanush can slash his wrist for his love at 15, he can also do jugaad and drive all the doctors and engineers away that Zoya’s parents are trying to force their daughter into marrying.
Abhay Deol plays a tiny role as Sonam Kapoor’s boyfriend in the film. He is as ambitious and as self-possessed as is Zoya. The twist in the story arrives when the Kapoor chick introduces him as a Muslim guy to her parents so that they would give their nod of approval. The way Dhanush deals with it, how Sonam is going through turmoil – all of this takes a very unpredictable turn. Dhanush walks the rope that leads him to the politically aware routes of JNU. The way he transforms from a bhai-type Benarsi bully to an aggressive activist, and the reasons for and the circumstances that take him towards that path are beautifully etched in the film.
While the first half is all gloss and show the dreamy world of love and passion set against the backdrop of Benares, the second half is drenched in inspiring youth oriented politics set in streets thronging with rallies that wind through Delhi. Watch it for the super artiste Dhanush and also for Sonam’s rising acting graph – which has definitely reached an impressive point – and, of course, for Rai’s unconventional and moving storytelling.
Reviewed by Deboshree Ghosh
**** Very good