Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

June 21, 2013

Bleeding heart

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:45 pm

June 21, 2013

Cast: Dhanush, Sonam Kapoor, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub, Swara Bhaskar, Abhay Deol

Director: Anand L Rai

A good way to measure the success of a love story is to ask yourself how much you want its protagonists to end up together. Raanjhanaa is about a young Hindu boy in Benares and his unwavering love for a Muslim girl who doesn’t see him as anything more than a friend. From the moment we’re first introduced to them as children – him dressed as Shiva, her performing namaaz – it becomes clear there can be no love story here. Yet, Kundan (Dhanush) has been crazy about Zoya (Sonam Kapoor) ever since they were little. Convinced she’ll change her mind, he pursues her relentlessly…throughout their school years, and well after she returns from Delhi on completing college, unaware that she’s already in love with a boy she met on campus (Abhay Deol in a cameo).

Tanu Weds Manu director Anand Rai exploits the vibrancy of the holy city, and yet gives us a lived-in feel of Benares, rather than taking the typical travel-brochure approach. He banks as much on the unmistakable charm of his leading man to deliver a terrific first hour that breezes by with plenty comic moments and some genuinely heartfelt scenes.

Kundan’s obsessive pursuit of Zoya is nothing short of stalking. Equally disconcerting is the idea that the filmmakers would endorse slashing one’s wrists as a way to profess love. Yet, truth is, these scenes don’t necessarily ring untrue in the film’s spot-on depiction of small-town India and its Bollywood-bred youth.

The script unfortunately goes off the rails in the film’s second half, when the story shifts to the JNU campus in Delhi, where our protagonists put romance on the backburner and busy themselves with active politics. Some interesting ideas, inspired by real-life current affairs, are explored here – the formation of a citizen’s party, the clash between corruption and idealism, and the oppression of the rural class – but despite the filmmakers’ best intentions, this track doesn’t fit seamlessly into the larger narrative.

If there’s one reason Raanjhanaa doesn’t entirely disappoint in spite of its problems, it’s Dhanush, who offers an uninhibited performance that’s hard to take your eyes off. A National Award winning actor in Tamil cinema, Dhanush slips into the skin of Kundan and owns the part. He’s complemented ably by Sonam Kapoor, who does some of her best work here, going smoothly from innocent to manipulative to cynical, without ever losing Zoya’s inherent vulnerability. The film also benefits from two solid supporting players: Swara Bhaskar, superb as Kundan’s childhood friend Bindiya, who pines for him unashamedly. And No One Killed Jessica’s Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub as Kundan’s best friend Murari, whose rat-a-tat lines provide some of the best laughs.

For its immensely entertaining first half, a winning score by AR Rahman, but most of all for Dhanush, this is a film that’s worth your time. I’m going with three out of five for Raanjhanaa. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. I was inspired by your reviews in TV (not even on which channel and when I watched it). Loved your reviews then and loving it now. It feels like this is the ‘final say’

    Comment by Raam — June 22, 2013 @ 7:04 am

  2. watch mariyaan trailer. You will know Dhanush’s true potential

    Comment by Yazhini — June 22, 2013 @ 8:01 am

  3. Bang on target Rajeev sir again.. Here is what I have to say..
    Performance wise, first half belongs to Kundan’s side-kick Murari(Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub) thanks to his cheeky bombshells while the second half is purely of our maverick, Kundan. He doesn’t carry qualities of a regular Bollywood actor but shows what an actor is supposed to do. Just Act and act as your character. He emulates three different roles in the movie starting from innocence personified school kid to a matured lover and finally to an emotionally suppressed guilty friend.

    Read Full review at http://www.vjmoviews.com/2013/06/raanjhanaa-movie-review.html

    Comment by vipul — June 22, 2013 @ 11:22 am

  4. This is really an awesome movie and I think Dhanush has already won him some awards if not the National Award….
    well supporter by Sonam.and both the,friends in movie..

    Comment by pramesh Bhatt — June 22, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

  5. Catch my review of ‘Raanjhana’ @ Reel is life: Fanatical about films


    Comment by Karthik Ganesan — June 22, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  6. well i agree with the review ..the music score by rahman is soothing but the ending was dissapointing

    Comment by Naman Vashisht — June 22, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

  7. Worth watch movie. Brilliant performance by Dhanush….Just like his Father in law

    Comment by krishna — June 23, 2013 @ 10:50 am

  8. Best movie of year till now. It should be shown to people like Karan johar on what is called a story and how it is played on screen. Lot’s of twist, humor, good music and heart felt scene. The way Benares is depicted, you feel like living there. truely amzing movie.

    Must watch.

    Comment by Rajiv — June 23, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

  9. Liked the first half for its songs and romance, second half for the unpredictability of the story.

    Comment by Gururaj — June 24, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  10. A good film with some absorbing performances by the protagonists and the supporting cast. The director managed to catch the vibrancy of Varanasi rather well. The JNU scenes could have been more interesting. On the whole an enjoyable film.

    Comment by supriyo — June 24, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

  11. This is certainly one of those movies which leaves you with a strong impression..Unforgettable one..Dhanush is just amazing with his simplicity and tremendous acting.

    Comment by sashwat — June 25, 2013 @ 9:48 am

  12. 4 stars dedete yaar, review sahi he lekin rating thoda sahi kardede

    Comment by srichand — June 26, 2013 @ 1:06 am

  13. Crap movie, don’t agree with you…

    Comment by Sagar Gandhi — June 26, 2013 @ 11:49 pm

  14. After watching Raanjhna i became a fan of Dhanush .. he is such an amazing actor who genuinely played this character in the movie with innocence, simplicity and brilliance in his act . he proves the Actor is Called an Actor who can Act well not just looks good . as like a Norma Viewer i simply can go for 3.5 stars . though i always see your rating before going for movie. and when you gave 3 i could guess that movie is not bad ..

    Comment by Sameer ali khan — June 30, 2013 @ 2:05 am

  15. This movie showcases who Dhanush is to the North, Bollywood. He is one of the finest actors in the South. Breaking the conventional story telling in the Bollwood, this brings certain sense to the audience what realstic movie and story is.. This movie tells you that South stars are not just larger than life heroes.. 3.5 was on cards Sir, yet 3 from your side is appreciable

    Comment by deepak — July 1, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

  16. In this movie 3 different personalities vying for different goals and priorities in life ends up striking chords unwillingly and at the wrong ends. Hate, love and ‘fate’ evolve them to a point where they take distress, desperation, histrionics, intensity, forgiveness and romance to a new height. Though movie lacks consistency and falters in 2nd half, these trio protagonists seems so real, flawed, and vulnerable at times making it a complete Socio-Romeo-Politico story package. Additionally, watch out for Abhay Deol as JNU students union president with impeccable charm and appeal (a promising role cut short), and Dhanush stellar performances that may leave you astounded like never before.

    Comment by Anand J — July 8, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

  17. Epic movie (Y) must watch !

    Comment by Puspa Ammai — September 23, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

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