|Director: Aanand Rai|
Kundan (Dhanush), son of a Tamil Brahmin priest in Benares pines for his childhood love Zoya (Sonam Kapoor) with an insane stubbornness. The sheen of his love throbs through adolescence, attempted suicide, religious divide, separation and adulthood. Only, the educated, higher class Zoya is in love with college mate, Akram (Abhay Deol), an emerging political leader at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. There are no bed of roses, confetti or dream sequences as a devastating turn of events leads Kundan to Delhi, and a thorny absolution.
Ranjhanaa unspools in adroit episodic edit cuts as we resound to the beating of Kundan’s heart for the beautiful, inaccessible Zoya. Faithful friend Murari (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) and his sister Bindiya (Swara Bhaskar), who pines for Kundan with raw fierceness, play strong cameos to the protagonists.
Kundan makes an unforgettable celluloid lover who single-mindedly wills to possess his love and not just bodily. He momentarily swings to emotional withdrawal only to return with bitter vengeance. Zoya is a woman who embodies a woman wanting to break free, finding her lost confidence in her lover and then churning in dark waters of circumstance, chance and revenge.
Dhanush, given a damn good reason for the accent, plays Kundan with great conviction. As much of a revelation is Sonam Kapoor as Zoya. This is easily her best performance - watch her as she handles the complexity of hurt and disguised emotions in the final scenes. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Swara Bhaskara play memorable anchors to the film, even as Abhay Deol sportingly does justice to his sketchy characterization.
Raanjhanaa comes to its own on the banks of Ganga where most of the terrific first half is set; it stumbles a little on establishing Kundan’s unlikely Delhi credentials.It ends with a bang though as darkness and death clouds loom and forgiveness is but a flickering uncertain flame.
Songs are aptly decorated; thankfully - rarely lip-synced. The story and performances provide the poignancy; AR Rahman’s extraordinary music celebrates in flourish, and the opening/closing lines of a dying man are one thump of an end.
The Hindi film industry has been guilty of squeezing the love story lemon dry for over six decades, Raanjhanaa works for its adherence to storytelling and abhorring clichés. It is certainly worth a watch on 70mm.