The one thing I was dreading more than all the South Indian stereotypes Dhanush would reinforce by dubbing for himself in Hindi was the fact that Dhanush would be playing a Tam Brahm in Raanjhanaa. He doesn’t look the part, but thankfully, speaks Tamil only once, and that’s to a cop. Like most Bollywood films, this one too gets its costumes and behaviour for South Indians all wrong – the mother, wife of an Iyer priest, wears sindoor and wraps her sari in Rajasthani-style, covering her head like a character from Ekta Kapoor’s saas-bahu serials. The father (Vipin Sharma) operates out of a temple that looks more Jain than South Indian, but his lines in the film have been dubbed spot-on, complete with the ‘zh’ sound.
If one can look past the trappings to the actual storyline, the film is rather better than one may expect. It is stocked with staple characters – the Muslim beauty Zoya (Sonam Kapoor), the besotted Hindu boy Kundan (Dhanush), his stolid friend Murari (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), the girl-next-door-who-fancies-him Bindiya (Swara Bhaskar), the dashing city lad (Abhay Deol), and Family. But within this setting, the film explores the idea of teenage love.
How easy it is to fall for drama when we’re teenagers. How easy it is to romanticise a doomed romance at 15. However, the film goes beyond it, to what happens when one revisits a teenage romance.
What happens when one stays in the same milieu, living with the same obsessions, while the other goes away? When what can be dismissed as a silly little memory by one becomes the single hope of the other?
Now, this could have made for a very interesting story. Rahman’s catchy score gets us so involved in the film we want to jump up and dance with the characters. The comic timing of the supporting cast, especially Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, balances out the maudlin yearning of Kundan. But the film fails in execution. Seeking to be “different”, it introduces several unnecessary – and often unbelievable – plot turns. One particular scene, in which Kundan bonds in Tamil with an SP and then negotiates with an angry gathering of farmers, is laughably far-fetched.
Several of the characters, including Kundan, are painfully inconsistent. One wishes the writers had thought about how a woman would feel if she had to work with someone who was the cause of her brother’s death. Or how a group of friends would feel if they were to find out their new leader had destroyed the life of their old one. Or how a woman would feel if her fiancé didn’t show up at their wedding because he had forgotten about it. The only character with any consistency is Zoya’s, and even that is stretched at the climax of the film, and its fallout.
The Verdict: While Raanjhanaa is entertaining enough at times, in the end, it feels – as a friend said – “like 7G Rainbow Colony and Kaadhal Kondein dubbed in Hindi”.