Okay, before I move forward with the review of RAANJHANAA, I must state on record that I find it absolutely uplifting and invigorating that our stories have relocated from foreign destinations to the hinterland of India. It's a welcome change, isn't it? Most of us being desi at heart, we tend to connect more with stories that are set in our backyard. And that's the first thing you observe as the reels of RAANJHANAA unspool. This time, the talented Aanand Rai places his plot in Benaras, saunters into Punjab for a while, before concluding the tale in Delhi.
Now to the film! Simplicity and unfussiness catches your eye/attention right away in this world of flashy and ostentatious makeovers. Aanand attempts to encapsulate the love story of regular people caught in a complex scenario in his new outing RAANJHANAA. The focus is on emotions here and RAANJHANAA is akin to a container that encloses myriad emotions such as affection, abhorrence, penance, euphoria and betrayal. On surface, this may seem like an uncomplicated story, but scratch the exterior and there's a strong undercurrent of emotions ready to explode and engulf you... Embellished with a taut screenplay and super performances, RAANJHANAA easily charms its way into your heart!
RAANJHANAA narrates the story of Kundan [Dhanush], who falls in love with Zoya [Sonam Kapoor] the moment he sets his eyes on her. The story takes a turn when Zoya goes to Delhi for further education. There, she falls in love with a budding politician [Abhay Deol]. But there are complications in this love triangle...
Initially, RAANJHANAA manages to hook you with the atmospherics, but the ingenious narrative and worthy performances win you over gradually. The romance, the simplistic lines, the heartbreak... the film transports you to a different zone altogether. The dream-like world gives the impression of being pure and unadulterated initially, but this illusory world is soon shattered by reality [read corrupted by greed and power] as the plot thickens.
There are times when you feel Aanand might borrow from romantic movies of yore -- most storytellers take the tried and trusted course to appease the spectator -- but the plot changes relentlessly as it advances. Let me add, it's not the customary love yarn we spectators are habituated to watching on the Hindi screen. The sequences between the lead pair are humorous and endearing, with some distinctive moments. There are heartrending and distressing flashes too and also sequences that astonish... that's when you put your hands together for the screenwriter and also the director for being so unconventional, so original, so innovative.
Aanand elicits the conservative/old school middle class setting wonderfully well. The milieu and narrative wholly absorb you, making you believe that you're as much part of the goings-on. Furthermore, the director uses only expressions -- without resorting to heavy-duty dialogue in few sequences -- delightfully.
The sole hiccup is that the film deviates in the middle of the second hour, when politics takes precedence, while romance takes a backseat. That's when you start feeling fidgety. But these portions are vital to the plot as it leads to an explosive climax, which comes across as a shocker. In fact, the sequences before the wrap up are the highpoint of the movie and you can't help but applaud the writer as well as the director for thinking out of the box.
The DoP capture the stunning locales of North India exquisitely. The radiant colors explode in every sequence, getting you enthralled at numerous junctures. Dialogue, befitting the milieu and characters, are interspersed dexterously in the sequence of events.
A.R. Rahman's musical score fits into the scenario admirably. The music -- the songs as well as the background score -- augment the impact on several occasions. The quality of music is supreme and each of the compositions has the distinctive Rahman stamp of uniqueness and exclusivity. Sure, like all Rahman compositions, the soundtrack of RAANJHANAA takes time to grow, but you listen to it once, you feel like hearing it persistently.
Dhanush, who makes his Hindi film debut with RAANJHANAA, is simply outstanding. To state that he's the mainstay of the film would be most appropriate. You take back his innocence, his dedication for his beloved, his emotions as you exit the auditorium. Here's a performance that deserves an ovation! The actor in Sonam was waiting for a role that would make the spectator sit up and notice it and the one in RAANJHANAA gives her that opportunity. The headstrong and emotional persona comes across so well in this film. In addition, like DELHI 6, she's devoid of makeup and that makes the character so appealing. This film is a huge leap frontward for Sonam as an actor. Abhay Deol is understated, but effectual in a special appearance. It's a superior act, something you've come to expect from the talented actor.
The supporting cast is unblemished and each of them pitches in a superior performance. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is a talent to watch out for. He's remarkable as Dhanush's friend. Swara Bhaskar is equally fab in a role that offers her plenty of scope to display histrionics. Kumud Mishra is first-rate. Vipin Sharma is adequate. Sujata Kumar is first-rate as the scheming politician.
On the whole, RAANJHANAA encompasses romance and myriad emotions most wonderfully, besides bravura performances and a popular musical score from the maestro. A film that touches the core of your heart. A film that's definitely worthy of a watch. Not to be missed!