Raanjhanaa - Review

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Raanjhanaa is an intense love story which is much more.

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I am still processing the film. An hour after I left the cinema hall, and I am relishing the experience of not having understood the film completely. Oh, the lovely feeling of mulling over the lingering after-taste of a film. Despite a few issues with it - issues I'd have held a grudge against, if they were in another context.

Context - that isRaanjhanaa's biggest strength. Not only that of Benares and its loafers who woo girls in two ways, or that of college politics, but also the differences between characters and how they play out because of those differences. Of course, there's the music which adds a lovely texture to the milieu of Benares and Delhi. In fact, the first hour or so plays out like a musical. But its the other things that are very unlike Hindi films that work forRaanjhanaa - like the two protagonists and a couple of the side characters are sketched out well, are intriguing and have lovely shades of gray.

In fact, the main leads are as gray as a lead character gets in Hindi films. In the first few lines itself, Kundan (Dhanush) accepts our apprehensions about him from the trailers - that he is not "good-looking" - in a very matter-of-fact tone. From thinking of Kundan as a loser who is wooing a girl way out of his league - Zoya (Sonam Kapoor), you unknowingly start warming up to him. And even as you like him, you are not sure he deserves this woman who is smarter, better-looking, etc than him.

On the other hand, you are not sure, Zoya is good for him either. She has her own thick shade of gray. Yet, Sonam Kapoor has a charming screen presence of her own to accept that there can be anything not-white about her. Yet she conveys ambiguity about her character's intentions throughout. That could be just because she pretty much maintains the same expression through the film. There are a few moments when you feel Zoya's pain and confusion, there are times when you want to scoff at her games, but we are soon back to the ambiguous expression. This time we can let it slide because it does seem intentional. There is something about this actor that makes you want to give her another chance.

Dhanush on the other hand, comes across as the simple lad with simple intentions as his character Kundan. There are a few times he slips into a South Indian accent but that bit is conveniently covered up by making him a South Indian Pandit in Benares. Yes, yes, I know there can be South Indian priests in Benares, it is just a darn good coincidence. But, some how he intentionally converts you into liking his character even though you start out with a distinct dislike, and its not just because he is the underdog.

Other than the broad stroke of true love and what one can allows oneself to go through when one believes they are in love, there are other underlying currents. Of course, there is the entire angle of political unrest and that of a dissatisfied section of youth trying to do what it can. That too is subtly put down with a neat little satirical scene. The one layer I particularly enjoyed is the irony of a boy stalking a girl all over town in the same film that has college students do street-plays about eve-teasing. The same girl who plays around with the sentiments of a boy who is in love with her participates in plays that talk about women being taken advantage of because they are women. These little things bring a smile.

As do many of the quips. While some of these one-liners bring the house down with laughter there are others that sound cheesy and yet manage to make you smile. And then comes the last 15-20 minutes which leave you confused. The first two hours have done enough good to let this last bit cause too much damage. In fact, I enjoyed this air of mystery. Characters behave out-of-character and yet their actions don't take you completely by surprise. And I'm not complaining if they are creating space for a sequel, though I'd have apprehensions like I would of any sequel. Yet, you cannot shake off the feeling that it feels incomplete or even rushed. It did make me wonder more than once if the writers couldn't think of an appropriate and copped out by leaving it unsaid.

That's Raanjhanaa for you, leaving you with a lot of mixed feelings, but in a good way.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A few lathi charges by the police
  • Language: Abuses in Hindi.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None.
  • Concept: That of true love and what one might do for it.
  • General Look and Feel: A nice village atmosphere created by the setting, the language and the music.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3.5
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 4
  • Dialogues: 4
  • Screenplay: 3.5
  • Music Director: 4
  • Lyrics: 3.5

Raanjhanaa - Movie Details

Raanjhanaa - Trailer

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Comments (36)

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shuchita basu:

shades of Ishaqzaade perhaps ?

meetu:

@Shuchita hmmm...interesting comparison. Hadn't thought of it that way.

Silvano:

It looks like a normal love story, But Dhanush looks pathetic, I hope his hindi will be good in the film

meetu:

@Silvano yes, he does 'look' pretty awful, but that I thought was the charm of the film. That they didn't go for the conventional good-looking guy woo-ing the beautiful girl.

Shivani:

Hi Meetu, Love your reviews and agree with them most of the time. But have a different take on this one:
Considering the number of rape/molestation cases cropping up in India I was shocked to see the trailer which seems to do nothing but glorify eve-teasing. Do we really need this kind of "earthy" humor to be shown right now? I think this will act like a setback to the people/groups fighting for the safety of women in India.

meetu:

@Shivani I thought about that.But I thought I'll reserve my comments till I have seen the film. Before ascribing unwanted intentions on the film, I'd like to give it the benefit of doubt that here's this boy who is in love with one girl and trying what he knows to get in her good books. Yes, but it's still borderline.

Anand Mandalika:

You haven't said a word about Abhay Deol :'( Even if that was intentional, it does make me wonder... Are you suggesting that we find out for ourselves ?

meetu:

@Anand Yep! It is intentional, even though I was :'( not to mention him. And yes, I'll go with "I want you to find out for yourselves."

Raj D:

I have seen a streak of your mind through various reviews, and it follows here too. Your comment about Dhanush: "...though you start out with a distinct dislike..." and "...he does 'look' pretty awful..."

If I remember corretly, you had made such remards against ther south Indian dark skinned actor - Rajnikanth too!

I have mentioned somewhere in my earlier comments about your non-refined prejudices for/against a particular looks/ race. Your frothiness is so superficial and skin deep.

Dhanush is very good looking and refined. (Ask Aishwarya!) You might disagree with me completely. But that is because of your upbringing. (I had mentioned that earlier too! And you had LOL on it.) You can have LOL again, but you have to learn to see a person beyond skin - as beautiful!

Sadly your outword prejudices puts you in the same league as the unbearable Kamal R Khan who thinks Dhanush looks untouchable - like a Bhanghi (one who lift human latrine on head) and Chamar (who processes skin of dead cow or makes footwears). That's what your upbringing made you keenly aware of.

I didnt' wanted to write this; I have not written to Kamal Khan. There, there is no chance or scope of refinement - in your case I think there perhaps is some possiblity you might see the light before you close your eyes!

Sorry if my comments hurts you - but I hope it makes you thoughtful.

My comments may be biased, because I love Dhanush too much..!

meetu:

Yes @Raj, I'll LOL again, because that is exactly what any comment on another person's "upbringing" deserves. So, yeah LOL.

There are enough "fair-skinned" people who I dislike "looks-wise" and enough "dark-skinned" (and wow, what a surprise, even "African Americans") who I like for their looks. I'd have given you a list, but naah...I'll let you make your own conclusions. For it is really cool, how you completely disregarded how much I liked Dhanush's performance (despite my "prejudices"!)

Its you who pointed out that I didn't like "dark-skinned" people, I hadn't even thought about it. I am honest about my prejudices, and I am absolutely sure its not for the color of skin. It is just an overall feel you get, a gut like or dislike. If you think you've never liked or disliked a person for their looks, you are super-human. Me? I'm only human.

adithya:

first learn how to write a review.....

Raj:

Meetu, sorry I still cant understand how one can get an overall feel, a gut feeling of like or dislike - seeing a person - the way they look?! I understand once you interact with a person - and the person shows some traits and then you build your gut feeling of like / dislike. But just seeing a person - making a gut feeling is so premature. I think no one should do it because one can be so so very wrong - deceived by the looks.

I just hope that the mothers teach their children NEVER to have a gut feeling seeing how a person looks. Every child/ person is beautiful however deformed or ugly anyone might see them. Ask a mother about a child who is considered ugly! Only if a person does something wrong in conduct - thought, speech and action, then its justified. But without that - there is something very very wrong dear!

Raj:

Yes, I may agree that you might have prejudices against fair skin people too! I dont know you personal - whatever I have known about your thoughts is through your reviews and the way you write, and I have never noticed - you have never in your reviews picked up anyone with fair skin. But with regard to a couple of actors your prejudice and biases stand out as a sore thumb.

I would surely say that - it is again WRONG to dislike a 'fair skin person' just because of gut feeling about the way they look..! I would have opposed you as strongly for that too!

Fan:

Disappointed to read in nudity/sexual content that there are a few lip lock scenes.

Why cannot the films be made without them. Take any film, edit out the lip locks, and there is no difference whatsoever to the story.

So why the f are they incorporated?

Disappointed, won't see the film.

Nirmal:

Hey Meetu
howdy.. been a while.. I haven't watched this film yet but quite looking forward to. But I did want to say that your review while overall positive evoked in me a similar response to Raj. But hey I did notice you suggesting Dhanush's performance being good :)

rgds
Nirmal

Sky:

I don't understand how people could call Dhanush as "pathetic".You don't usually find 6 or 8 pack abs moving around a town like benaras,do you?:/
And neways his acting is far better than those 6 "fair and handsome" beefy Adonises..

Anup:

its not a usual romantic drama movie of bollywood,,,,it has its uniqueness,,,,ofcoarse dhanush is the main reason for it,,,,he is totally different from the usual bollywood heroes,,,,at first u think he may not be a deserving guy for zoya,,,,but after sometime u will feel that actualy zoya is not a deserving girl for the love of kundan,,,,and yes abhay deol,,,,does his act at ease,,,,its good that u havnt said anything about him,,,,bcoz there are two big twists in the movie related to him,,,,the last decision taken by zoya confused me,,,,it was not cleared in the movie that why she had done that,,,,but thats the beauty,,,,the writer makes the audience to interprete by themselves,,,,my fav character was murli,,,,everytime he open his mouth he make u laugh out loud,,,,meetu u should have said something about hin,,,,and last but not the least,,,,the speech of dhanush at the climax,,,,[comment edited, at this point, because it gives a part of the climax away] was superb,,,,

Amit:

It is an interesting movie. Definitely worth watching once (theater or not). As the review suggests, it is a typical love story that flies in the first half. Unfortunately, there's too much of a formulaic approach in the second half and it has been stretched a little too long. If they had finished the movie in 2 hours without a break, it would've forced clarity of thought and elimination of some un-necessary drama. All in all great acting by Dhanush. Sonam's character is a bit confused as is her acting ;-) She looks great though!

meetu:

@Raj You've totally missed the point haven't you. The prejudice is not based on the color of skin. Not having an instant reaction is not possible. I'm aware of my reactions, am honest about them and do not let them effect my interactions in real life and reactions while watching films - I know I give the cleanest slate possible to every Salman Khan film ;)

Oh and just noticed comment number 3 and 4 above.

Anyway, looks like you've made up your mind about what I think, how I think, and even why I think what and how I think. So, how does it matter what I have to say. So, I am going to stop now.

@Fan Well, the intimacy is not overwhelming. The liplocks aren't long kisses or anything. It's a good film, with a decent story, good performances and awesome music.

@Nirmal :) thank you!

@Sky Agree. 100%.

@Anup Yeah, I guess I should have. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Swara Bhaskar both added life to the film. I guess I got carried away with the theme, etc.

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 3.5
Story: 3.5
Lead Actors: 3.5
Character Artists: 3.5

Dialogues: 3.5
Screenplay: 3.5
Music Director: 2
Lyrics: 2

amit:

Nice review Meetu. But what about the end confused you? I thought it was perfect and properly done too. Did you miss something?

Amodini:

Meetu, I'm with you on Dhanush's looks. The film didn't work for me partly because of Dhanush's lack of charisma/looks and partly because I thought both Zoya and Kundan weren't "good" people - I couldn't really care about them. I did think they both acted well.

Everyone seems to be talking about how "looks" aren't important - because Dhanush acts well. Well then, why aren't there any Hindi films with great looking men and not-good-looking women? Seems pretty hypocritical to me.

meetu:

@Suman :D

@amit well, that'd have to be a discussion outside wogma, 'cause it'll give the movie away ;)

@Amodini :D I was actually waiting for a woman to get to this point. I know that involves another prejudice but, I think a woman would get what is instantly dislikeable about some people. In real life, I think it is what keeps us safe, but I didn't want to digress and use the 'woman' card to justify a perfectly normal and human reaction.

Interestingly, I liked the film because the characters made me dislike them, they got an emotion out. You'd agree that's a rarity these days.

Mohammad farooq:

#Raanjhanaa is a love story laced with great dialogues and fast paced screenplay, that keeps you looking for what happens next. A story that lets you feel the pain of the protagonists’ love, dilemma, innocence through the window of time. #Danush is the ultimate star, while #SwaraBhaskar and #ZeeshanAyub impressive. Avoid some little over the top cliches and enjoy Dhanush' grand entry to Bollywood. I'm going with 4/5 for Raanjhanaa. Don't miss it.
http://reveringthoughts.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/raanjhanaa-my-review/

Raj:

Dear Meetu,

There is much to say, but I do not want to use this platform of wogma to share thoughts on issue/traits so personal.

I think its inappropriate to do so beyond a point. I am sorry if I hurt you in anyway.
If you feel like connecting - do email me.

meetu:

@Raj No-no, I'm not hurt. All is good. There's no point continuing on this thread because you are sure about how I think and I have neither inclination nor energy to convince you otherwise. On some other topic, bring it on! :D Cheers!

Lavina Melwani:

Hi Meetu, I loved the movie, the music and the actors. Interesting to read all the comments about Dhanush. I'm a big fan, with this very first movie I've seen. His Kundan had a wonderful vulnerability as well as street smarts. My review is here http://bit.ly/1afRljL

mac:

There are no liplocks. Where did you see liplocks?

The movie is actually average. First half is good, second drags on. Dhanush acts well. Sonam looks good but her role is.....that will give away the movie.

fan:

Got some good word of mouth, and also surprised looks when I mentioned the "few lip-locks" in the wogma review.

So I went and saw it.

Beautiful film. First half is poetic, magical, colourful, romantic - simply enjoyable. Second half with Delhi gets boring. I was impressed with Benares scenes in Yamla Pagla Deewana, and I remain impressed with Benares scenes in Raanjhanaa.

Dhanush impressed me the most. I had zero expectations and the guy really surprised me. Top rate. Watch out, here comes a future star. In some scenes there were shades of Rajnikanth. But I suppose any Tamil film loving guy would have grown up fed on Rajnikanth diet; plus this guy is his son-in-law. So why not.

And finally, the lip-locks. There ARE NONE. So I suppose that the wogma reviewer saw some other film version than what I saw; or the reviews are written without watching the film (happens there are paid writers)?

meetu:

@mac @fan Sorry, my bad. I seem to remember a lip-to-lip kiss and liplock is a strong word for that. But, suddenly all memory seems foggy between Shortcut Romeo that I saw on the same day and Raanjhanaa. Yes, that's hardly an excuse. Sincere apologies.

meetu:

@fan and really glad you liked the film.

Fan:

Thanks Neetu. I understand, when watching two films on the same day and resuming them: it can get confusing.

Fan:

@Neetu: and if possible then correct your synopsis about nudity/sexual content. Many people do not read the comments and rely on that content to decide to watch or skip the film. Me included ;-)

Fan:

@Meetu: Sincerely sorry for the "Neetu" in place of "Meetu" in my previous two posts.

meetu:

@Fan Done! Change made. Watching two films in a day is hardly an excuse. I've watched three Paresh Raval films in a day and managed to keep them separate, which is what I am supposed to do.

No worries about 'Neetu', if I can add kissing scenes in a film, you sure can change my name. ;) Didn't take the "paid writers" comment too kindly though. However, I know the mistake was bad enough for a nasty comment like that, so it's cool!

arvindD:

horribly awesome

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