Raanjhanaa movie poster

Written by: Himanshu Sharma
Directed by: Anand L. Rai
Starring: Dhanush, Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol, Shilpi Marwaha, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub

Raanjhanaa marks the foray of the Tamil movie industry superstar Dhanush into the Hindi film industry. Over the years, several superstars from down south have tried their luck at cracking the Hindi film industry with varying degrees of success. Dhanush, who became a household name with his hugely popular gone-viral song "Kolaveri Di" makes his debut with Anand Rai's (who previously made the slightly successful Tanu weds Manu) love story set in the heart of the holy-town of Banaras. The movie also stars Sonam Kapoor and Abhay Deol in pivotal roles. Going by the trailer, the movie's main purpose is to give Dhanush a launchpad in this new arena of films. Does it succeed? Yes, it does!

The story is about a Hindu Brahmin boy Kundan (Dhanush) who as a young kid falls head-over-heels in love with a Muslim girl, Zoya (Sonam Kapoor). Through his high school, through several tries and various antics with the help of his best buddy--he manages to get Zoya to reciprocate his feelings. His best buddy's sister, meanwhile, pines for Kundan, who does not reciprocate. However, her father gets to know about it, and decides to send her out of town for her college, under the supervision of her uncle. On the day of her departure, Kundan professes his love and lets her know that he would wait for her till eternity.

Zoya goes to Delhi for higher studies. Through the years her attitude towards life changes drastically during this period, thanks to the exposure she receives there--and she falls in love with Akram (Abhay Deol), who is standing up for college elections and has big ambitions of becoming a chief minister one day. She returns back to her home town of Banaras after several years for a vacation. However, Kundan is still under the impression that she loves him, and is keenly waiting for her to come back into his life after all this time. What happens when Kundan gets to know the truth? How does Zoya deal with the situation with him...does she end up with Kundan or does she get Akram instead? And how do the decisions taken by Zoya and Kundan end up impacting everyone from the small town of Banaras all the way to Delhi--all of this forms the story.

Dhanush makes a mark...and how! He depicts the three phases of Kundan's life and emotions (the three being high-school, after graduation, then a mature individual) exceptionally well. The innocence of the character is well communicated, as is the madness of his love! This will surely make people sit up and take notice of him as an actor. For someone who does not know Hindi, his dialogue delivery is excellent. This film will also be counted amongst one of the better performances of Sonam Kapoor as well. She is exceptional in some of the scenes--especially the ones in the climax. Abhay Deol shines in a small but important role: he proves to be the fulcrum of the story post-interval. The two supporting actors--Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub playing Kundan's selfless best buddy and Shilpi Marwaha playing the girl who pines for unrequited love--are scene stealers. They both perform exceptionally well in every scene they appear. They have some of the best lines in the movie and are hilarious whenever they appear on-screen in the first half. Direction by Anand Rai is top-class. He brings out the earthy essence of Banaras (the holy tradition is well depicted) and also draws good performances from his cast.

However, A. R. Rahman disappoints for once. None of the songs linger on after the movie ends. The title track is the best of the disappointing lot. The movie tends to drag a bit post-intermission, during the phase wherein Kundan tries to get back with Zoya, but then it's only a minor aberration in the proceedings before the movie picks up pace and then heads to an unexpected climax. The screenplay is excellent. It is an extremely well-written movie about two flawed protagonists and how the decision taken by these flawed people end up impacting the folks who consider them their own! The good thing about the story is that it does not concentrate on the overly trodden path of family feud due to the Hindu-Muslim factor. Though it does touch on the topic superficially, it never dwells too deep into it and rather concentrates on the protagonists.

Overall, it has an excellent first half, an engrossing second half, superb performances from Dhanush, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Shilpi Marwha and Sonam Kapoor with well written dialogues which do give an earthy feel and top class direction. It's a must watch!