Just when you thought that Bollywood had (slowly, but steadily) matured in its take on love, director Aanad L Rai quashes our faith with a shockingly outdated love story.
Set on the rustic bylanes of Benaras, ‘Raanjhanaa’ is unimaginatively archaic and extremely convoluted that it gives love a bad name.
While most Bollywood romances (logically) involves a couple, who obsessively dance around trees and fight objecting parents (and society) only to reunite to live ‘happily ever after’, in ‘Raanjhanaa’ it’s an unapologetically one-sided affair.
Here, the hero is left on his own to fight for love that only he feels.
And, strangely he’s quite happy doing so.
The unrequited love isn’t the problem here, but how he taunts, teases, tortures and even threatens his ladylove into submission. She apparently gives in only because he’s “consistent” and not because she has any feelings for him.
And, to think that they are still in school while these events unfold is highly unsettling.
So, a few slaps and a slitting-his-wrist exercise later, they fall in love.
Yes, love (in Bollywood) does strange things to people.
However, their romance is short-lived as her parents discover their secret and she’s promptly packed away to another city.
Eight years (and a Holi song) later, she returns to her hometown only to find her man still deeply in love, and equally eager to slit his wrist if she declines his proposal.
Thankfully she has matured and doesn’t give in to his demands.
But, things go completely haywire then on.
Double marriage plans, an untimely death, revenge, and even a political campaign are weaved into the narrative.
Aanad and his ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ writer Himanshu Sharma go from bizarre to absolute absurdity.
At 140 minutes screen time, the roller-coaster ride is far from bearable. There’s only one scene that’s impressively original and genuinely funny – when a bunch of university students surround the hero and analyze what led him to become a “thief”.
Tamil movie star Dhanush and his screen-lover Sonam Kapoor pale out in front of Swara Bhaskar and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub. Despite being written half-baked characters, the two create immense affability towards the loud-mouthed, hopeless romantic Bindiya and the ever-loyal Morari.
Not that Dhanush isn’t earnest in his portrayal of the small-town romeo Kundan, but Himanshu gives him the most infuriating dull character to play. He’s either attempting to take his life or threatening to take his lover’s, without much thought. After hogging the chunk of screen-time, Kundan’s character deserved a lot more thought and reasoning.
In fact, the only prep that has gone into determining Kundan’s journey is his facial hair – from a clean-shaven schoolboy to a mustached much-in-love youngster, to a bearded repenting soul.
Sonam is easy on the eye, and plays herself. She’s clearly worked on her costumes, and that’s about how much she has given to Zoya. A little more soul would’ve gone a long way in understanding her.
Abhay Deol walked away with the most impressive few minutes on-screen. Not that he had any scope for performance, but his desi-style and dimples will come as a great relief from all the doom that Kundan is busy creating.
While music maestro AR Rahman tunes the track, and leaves us occasionally cheerful, the moments are far too few to erase the horrid aftereffects of this movie.
Take our tip. Skip this one.