“Raanjhanaa” also works because of several great performances, especially Dhanush who shines in an author-backed role. He endears himself with the mischievous twinkle in his eye and the ease with which he slips into Kundan’s character. Ayyub and Bhaskar provide the perfect foil to Dhanush, and scenes between the trio are among the best in the film. Ayyub has the best lines. Sonam Kapoor shows an improvement but falls short when it comes to delivering in crucial emotional scenes.

Film: Raanjhanaa

Director: Anand L Rai

Cast: Dhanush, Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol, Swara Bhaskar, Deepak Dobriyal, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Kumud Mishra, Shilpi Marwaha

Jagran Rating:

Story Line: First love is always special in everyone’s life, so is the story of Raanjhanaa.

It is the tale of a Hindu boy Kundan (Dhanush) and his journey from a 13-year-old lover to a committed young man who stays by his childhood love till his last breathe.

Benares holds a special place in Kundan’s heart and the reason is not only his childhood days but also the city that gave him Zoya (Sonam Kapoor).

Like every committed lover, Kundan used to peep at his love secretly, smiles whenever her memories come in, gets impatient in loneliness and waits eagerly for the D-day when he will propose her. But the young girl never takes him seriously.

Life takes a harsh turn when they both grow older and Zoya moves to Delhi for further studies. But distance fails to dim love for Zoya in Kundan’s heart. Time passes by and Kundan waits for her love to comeback and one day she is back.

With Zoya back in Benares, Kundan’s world was filled with excitement as he was thinking of finally telling her how he felt. But his meeting with Zoya leaves him heartbroken. Zoya was in love and yes with another guy Akram (Abhay Deol) who was her college mate. Kundan’s heart breaks into millions of pieces when Zoya who meant the whole world for him asked for his help in marrying Akram. He was torn between his true feelings for Zoya and his heart’s pleas to help her get her true love because who could understand that pain better than him.  He decides to help Zoya and now begins the tale of love, betrayal and redemption.

Thumbs up: This enormously-enriching film about the pain of love has three heroes: Dhanush, AR Rahman's music and the city of Benares. Not necessarily in that order. But then 'orderly conduct' is hardly a given in a film about raging unrequited love. Dhanush speaking Hindi is interesting to watch. The first half floats along smoothly, aided in no small measure by Rahman’s music and Dhanush’s delightful performance. Rai paints a colourful picture of Benares and its people and prejudices, without overstating any of it. Kundan’s best friend Murari (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) and the neighbourhood girl who falls for him (played brilliantly by Swara Bhaskar) are part of the milieu and add to the charm of the first half.“Raanjhanaa” also works because of several great performances, especially Dhanush who shines in an author-backed role. He endears himself with the mischievous twinkle in his eye and the ease with which he slips into Kundan’s character. Ayyub and Bhaskar provide the perfect foil to Dhanush, and scenes between the trio are among the best in the film. Ayyub has the best lines.

Thumbs down: Raanjhanaa seems like two different films. In the first half, it is an intense, introspective love story, where you empathize with all the characters.  It’s when things get serious that Rai’s grasp on his subject loosens and the cracks start to appear. The film’s convoluted second half is a whirlwind of incidents including a death, a Lok Sabha election and police violence. Your patience is tested as both Rai and his characters seem out of depth and there are several plot points that seem implausible. Abhay Deol seems somewhat miscast. Sonam Kapoor shows an improvement but falls short when it comes to delivering in crucial emotional scenes.

Music Review: The music of Raanjhanaa has eight tracks. Since the movie is based in Benaras, composer AR Rahman has included the regional flavour in most of the tracks. Use of a lot of instruments in all the songs is also evident.

The soundtrack kicks off with "Raanjhanaa", a high on energy number. Sung by Jaswinder Singh and Shiraz Uppal, it is not exactly a sugarcoated romantic number but its rhythmic beats make you tap your feet and you may put the song on loop. The music is powerful and gives you goosebumps. It has a bit of a classical touch to it and the singers meet the expectations of the listeners.

Shreya Ghoshal's melodious voice greets the listeners in the next track "Banarasiya". With a lot of regional influence, it is soothing and soulful. The lyrics and the singer balance the song and raise the bar.

People can express their love even better with Javed Ali's track "Tum tak". Keerti Sagathia and Pooja Av join him behind the mike. A very beautiful romantic number, it is about one-sided love. It can be touted as one of the high points of the album.

Next is "Piya milenge". Sukhwinder Singh sings it beautifully. Even though it is not a sad song, it has intended or unintended dullness. Somewhere in the middle, a tinge of Sufi music comes in and it sounds nice. Towards the end, the song becomes very passionate and lyrics intense.

This is followed by "Ay sakhi", sung by Aanchal Sethi, Vaishali, Chinmayi and Madhushree. What sounds like a conversation between girlfriends, the song has a pure classical touch in the beginning but gradually blends into a Bollywood track. An average track, it may not live up to music lovers' expectations.

Singers Neeti Mohan and Rashid Ali complement each other in the next track, "Nazar Laaye". A soothing romantic number, it has a kind of freshness. Not too loud or too slow, it creates a happy and romantic feel. The lyrics are cute and the song ends on a beautiful note.

The Rahman flavour is prominent in "Tu mun shudi". Sung by Rabbi and Rahman, it begins with hip-hop beats and has an element of funkiness. More like a "boys song", the unique number has an interesting composition.

The last track is "Aise na dekho" and Rahman's voice has never sounded more lovable. With the expressive song, the listeners can take a trip down memory lane.

Like any other album, the music of "Raanjhanaa" has few low points, but otherwise it is thoroughly entertaining. Romance is purified in every song and the album has the capacity to grow on the listeners. The use of various instruments has saved the album from becoming clichéd love compositions. The music has undoubtedly taken over the singers and lyrics. Listen to it for a unique experience in expressing love.

This isn’t the “perfect” romance like Ayan Mukerji’s “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”. But if you don’t mind a film where all the ends aren’t tied up, give “Raanjhanaa” a chance and be willing to forgive its flaws.

(*Bad,**Disappointing,***Average ,****Good,*****Excellent)

JPN/Agencies

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