Eros International and Colour Yellow Pictures Ltd.’s Raanjhanaa (UA) is a love story. Kundan (K. Dhanush Raja) is a Hindu from South India, settled in Varanasi with his parents. His father (Vipin Sharma) is a temple priest. He has a crush on Zoya, a pretty Muslim girl, since childhood. Even when they are still in school, Kundan expresses his deep love to Zoya (Sonam Kapoor). She doesn’t take him seriously but publicly embraces him when he slits his wrist in a tempo to prove his love for her. All hell breaks loose in Zoya’s house and she is packed off to Aligarh where she studies for some years before getting admission in Delhi’s prestigious JNU College. In JNU College, Zoya meets a firebrand student leader (Abhay Deol) and falls head over heels in love with him. The student leader has political inclinations. He, too, loves Zoya. Meanwhile, Bindiya (Swara Bhaskar) loves Kundan since childhood and is very keen to marry him. She resents the fact that Kundan loves Zoya.
Zoya returns to Varanasi after eight years and Kundan seizes the opportunity to once again reiterate his love for her. All through the eight years, Zoya’s caste-conscious parents, unaware that the boy Zoya had embraced eight years ago was Kundan, continue to be fond of him and make him run errands for them and help them with the household work. Kundan helps Zoya dodge the marriage proposal of a doctor, brought in by her father. Soon, Zoya reveals to Kundan that she is in love with her college pal and would soon marry him. The marriage preparations begin as Zoya has succeeded in convincing her parents that her college friend is her soul mate. Kundan is devastated. He decides to marry Bindiya, that too, on the same day as Zoya’s marriage to her college friend.
As luck would have it, Kundan learns that the college pal Zoya is to get married to is a Hindu pretending to be a Muslim. He spills the beans before Zoya’s parents and the marriage is called off. The prospective bridegroom, Jasjeet, is even beaten up by the loyalists of Zoya’s father. Jasjeet is injured so grievously that his parents take him away to their home town, Jalandhar, where he breathes his last. Here, Kundan’s marriage had not been solemnised as he had reached late for his own wedding.
Zoya is devastated about Jasjeet’s demise but she soon becomes active, once again, in the the political party Jasjeet had formed in Delhi. The party grows from strength to strength. Kundan goes to Delhi and tries to get close to Zoya again, but Zoya is unrelenting as she can’t forgive him for breaking her impending marriage to Jasjeet and for his ultimate death.
So what does Zoya now do? Does she have a change of heart gradually? Or does she seek revenge on Kundan? Does Zoya marry Kundan? Or does Kundan marry Bindiya?
Himanshu Sharma’s story is fresh and has the small-town flavour as it is set in Varanasi. Sharma has penned a screenplay laced with a lot of humour and a dash of emotions. The first half is excellent and the four characters who endear themselves instantly to the audience are the madly-in-love Kundan, the bubbly Zoya, the cutely foul-mouthed Bindiya who pines for Kundan, and Kundan’s bosom pal, Murari (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayub). The humour in the pre-interval part is so entertaining and enjoyable that the audience has a truly good time. Adding brilliantly to the humour are the dialogues, also penned by Himanshu Sharma.
The film, however, takes a dip after the death of Jasjeet. Writer Himanshu Sharma has given too much importance to the activities of the political outfit, after Jasjeet’s demise, and that portion gets long-winding and boring and it also has class appeal only. However, the scenes involving Murari keep the audience entertained in the second half too. Also, the scenes of Kundan coming to the aid of Zoya and her friends make for interesting viewing. Even though the drama in the second half is a bit boring, the silver lining is that it has many twists and turns and it is so unpredictable that the viewers can’t guess in which direction it is headed. The ending is also equally unpredictable and would shock the audience. Although there would be a section of the audience which may not approve of the ending, it must be said that the ending is the most logical and justified one.
All in all, the story is interesting and quite different from a lot of love stories one has seen while the screenplay has good doses of drama and romance, extraordinary comedy and a bit of emotions too. The dialogues, as mentioned above, are gems and a major highlight of the film. In fact, it would not be incorrect to say that the dialogues are a hero of the film.
K. Dhanush Raja may not have the looks of a traditional Hindi film hero but he suits the character of Kundan wonderfully and he acts with such effortless ease that he comes out with flying colours in his maiden attempt in Bollywood. He is supremely natural and his character, extremely endearing. His simplicity and honesty come to the fore loudly and clearly, adding to the character he plays. His dubbing deserves mention. Sonam Kapoor looks very pretty and plays Zoya beautifully. The character of Zoya has tremendous range and Sonam does full justice to it. Her transition is amazing. Abhay Deol is also very endearing as Jasjeet and comes up with a superb and dignified performance. Mohd. Zeeshan Ayub is outstanding as Murari, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he evokes laughter every time he comes on the scene. Swara Bhaskar is first-rate and shines in the role of Bindiya. She gets into the skin of the character of a small-town girl. Kumud Mishra (as Zoya’s father) lends very fine support. Deepika Amin is good as Zoya’s mother. Shilpi Marwah makes her presence felt as Zoya’s friend, Rashmi. Sujata Kumar (as the chief minister) leaves a mark. Vipin Sharma is superb in a brief role as Kundan’s father. Urmilla Sharma (as Kundan’s mother), Rahul Chauhan (as Bindiya’s father), Reena Kumar (as Bindiya’s mother), Ishwak Singh (as Zoya’s groom-to-be), Tejpal Singh (as Jasjeet’s father), Dimple (in the role of Jasjeet’s mother), Gayle Almeida, Pooja Pillai, Rishika Kumar, Sandeep Dixit and Ankita Jha (all as students involved in a group discussion), master Naman Jain (as young Kundan), baby Soniya Ankhlesariya (as young Zoya), baby Payal Bhojwani (as young Bindiya) and master Ansh (as young Murari) lend fantastic support. Others are also very nice.
Aanand L. Rai’s direction is excellent. He has remained true to the script and the characters and has maintained an easy pace. He deserves kudos for extracting such good work from his cast members and also for his perfect casting. A.R. Rahman’s music is melodious and although the music is not super-hit, four songs (‘Banarasiya’, ‘Tum tak’, the title track and ‘Tu mun shudi’) are very appealing. A couple of super-hit songs could’ve added a great deal to the love story. However, it must be mentioned that the songs are bound to grow in popularity. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are very meaningful. Choreography (Bosco-Caesar) is very eye-pleasing. A.R. Rahman’s background score is outstanding. N. Nataraja Subramanian and Vishal Sinha’s cinematography is wonderful. Tariq Umar Khan’s sets are very appropriate. Javed-Aejaz’s action scenes are nice. Editing (by Hemal Kothari) is sharp.
On the whole, Raanjhanaa is an interesting, entertaining and a fairly different love story and will do very well at the ticket windows. It is like heady wine and its effect will only grow. Dhanush will be loved in the film. Although the total investment in the film is on the higher side (Rs. 28 crore), the film will definitely prove to be a paying proposal as around 55% of the investment has been already been recovered from sale of satellite and music rights.