There’s a scene in Raanjhana where Kundan (Dhanush) and Muraari (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub) are watching a scene from the movie, ‘Saajan’, where the character of Sanjay Dutt is sacrificing his love for his brother played by Salman Khan. Kundan’s friend Muraari screams aloud, ‘Nahi Sanju Nahi…Sanju!’
This scene in the first fifteen minutes of Raanjhana makes one hope that this film’s fate wouldn’t end up as same – something we’ve been witnessing in almost every other love triangle that Indian film industry has dished out. Thankfully, director Anand L. Rai doesn’t disappoint. Admittedly, the film took me back to my school days (I am sure it would be the same for many of you as I could already hear few guys sighing, “Arrey yeh to meri story hai yaar!”). Well, I just can’t resist the temptation of sharing this:
I had a ‘serious’ crush with a girl (or so I thought) during my school days and ‘followed’ (not stalked) her during school recess and even after school hours, accompanied by a friend who egged me on to ‘approach’ her. Well, I did ‘approach’ her with a silly poem (my first love poem) at wee hours at a sports stadium (we knew her batch timings). She simply read the poem, tore the page and walked away – the end of my so-called love story.
Years later (11 years to precise), I bumped into her and smiled at her. To my surprise, she didn’t recognize me. I put a brave face and tried reminding her about the guy who wrote his first love poem for her etc. but she just couldn’t recall. With an awkward smile, she politely apologized and walked away, leaving me visibly embarrassed. Coincidentally, the film Raanjhana has a similar scene, which made me completely relate to the situation.
The scene made me question: What if I had pursued that girl relentlessly? What if I had slit my wrist in front of her to win her sympathy? What if I had waited for all these years? What if I had known that she loves someone else and yet would continue to love her? What if I had known she is using me and yet would end up as a victim of one-sided love? What if I had known that my love has destroyed me and yet would wear a triumphant smile? Raanjhana is neither about ‘serious’ crush or teenage infatuation, but way beyond that – it’s about loving someone until it hurts as Mother Teresa would have like to put it. .
The film, apart from interesting story and screenplay (Himanshu Sharma) has its share of moments which you’d take home with you. Cinematographers Natarajan Subramaniam and Vishal Sinha paint the silver screen with real colours of Banaras rather than itinerary snapshots. Actors Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub and Swara Bhaskar make their presence felt as the chuddy-buddies of Kundan.
Naman Jain (the Katrina fan in Bombay Talkies) leaves you asking for more screen time. However, it is Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub, who with his smart-alecks, ensures you wear a grin every time he appears on the screen. Director Anand L. Rai never loses his grip on humour, especially in the climax scene and avoids blowing up the ‘Tam-Bram falling in love with a Muslim girl angle’, which is indeed commendable.
Sonam Kapoor struggles in the emotional scenes and appears completely artificial while shedding glycerine tears. Dhanush clearly emerges as winner, right from dancing to the ‘Humka ishaq hua hai yaara’ (Coolie), and ‘Saamne yeh kaun aaya (Jawaani Diwani) to the flawless delivery of a flawed dialogue, “‘Kundan ke pyjama ka naada itna bhi kamzor nahi ke tere do hook khulne se dheela ho jaaye.’ (‘Flawed’ because Kundan’s character knew it very well that Swara Bhaskar’s character Bindya wasn’t lusting after him but loved him with the same dedication as he loved Zoya).
The character of Abhay Deol turns out as half-baked, making you wish it was written with the dexterity of KK Menon’s character in the movie, ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ directed by Sudhir Mishra. The political ideologies of Jasbeer i.e. Abhay Deol seems to be there just for the heck of it. The writer never tries exploring what kind of future Jasbeer envisions for his Citizens Party. Is he a communist, capitalist, leftist, rightist or just a ‘Fab’ist clad in fancy Kurtaa- Denim.
There’s a scene where Kundan sneaks into the JNU campus and on being caught by the students, Kundan tells them he is a thief. This instance leads to an overnight debate on the widening social divide between the rich and the poor – a gem of a scene which reflects the director’s ability to mock at our youth’s penchant for debates and discussions which lead nowhere – just like the party Jasbeer leads.
On second thoughts, the flaw of Raanjhana – of not actually caring for the nation’s burning issues can be overlooked purely because the story has been narrated from Kundan’s point of view. As a besotted lover, Kundan never cared for anything including his family, but his object of love. He joins the party formed by Jasbeer only because of Zoya (Sonam Kapoor). He even states that he has learned one thing that India needs a leader. If people can listen to ‘zaahil-ganwaar’ guy like him, they surely deserve a better leader. Mercifully, the director avoids transforming Kundan into a ‘leader’ and retains him what he has always been – Raanjhana.
The film banks entirely upon the performance of Dhanush and music of AR Rahman, who belts out a swashbuckling score for Raanjhana so much so that it becomes a character of the film. No wonder the director ends the film with the line, ‘Music by AR Rahman’. Dhanush and AR Rahman compel you to ignore the loopholes in the second half of the film. You cease to wonder why a film which begins as a guy’s obsession for a girl suddenly switches to ‘revolution’ mode. To sum it up, the only reason why one must watch Raanjhana is because it depicts flawed people in a flawless love story rather than perfect people in imperfect love stories.