Movie Review: Raanjhanaa is a good Bollywood launchpad for Dhanush
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Director: Aanand L Rai
Cast: Dhanush, Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Swara Bhaskar, Kumud Mishra
The Indian Express Rating: ** 1/2
"Say you love me, or I will slit my wrists", Kundan threatens Zoya, and we know instantly that he means business. He is not saying this for a lark. Nor for a nudge-and-wink. He is saying this as if he means it. We know instantly that Raanjhanaa is a no-holds-barred love story, not your half-hearted romcom that passes for a romance these days in Bollywood. The riveting first half of the film lives up to its old- fashioned title, with a young lover whose chief driver is passion, the innocent young girl who is the object of his adoration, and the problems that keep them apart. Post interval, it comes unstuck, and squanders its gains. If Raanjhanaa had kept its tone intact, it would have been a great love story.
Kundan (Dhanush), the son of a Banaras panda, is madly, deeply in love with Zoya (Kapoor). He does the running. She keeps him at bay. Just as she is about to relent, the Hindu-Muslim never-the-twain-shall-meet angle comes in, and the two part ways. I should have said 'torn asunder', actually, because that is how it is shown, him desperately chasing the train that is bearing her away, both sobbing their hearts out. When she does return, several years later, her Banarasi swain is waiting, unprepared that the girl whom he loves may love someone else (Deol).
Aanand L Rai who gave us an acute, well-observed small town sensibility in his first film Tanu Weds Manu, brings the same skill sets to Raanjhanaa. It's been a while since I've seen Varanasi in the movies as a place where regular people live, not a Discovery channel shoot that peddles exotica. Rai knows the town, its people, and the lingo. Even Dhanush, whose south Indian accent is given a credible reason to exist in the film, says Banarasi launda with a flourish. The actor who really nails it, no surprise here, is Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, who plays the hero's best friend.