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 Gangs of Wasseypur’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.

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  1. Sunil

    June 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Nice review. but i am not sure character Murari (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub) has acted in Gangs movie

  2. Raj Mohammed

    June 28, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    I saw this movie and i can tell story in one line ” A foolish boy and girl how they ruin there own life and also ruin all others life attached to them”. The character

    Kundan – Niether became a good son to his parents who never against him , not a good friend to his friend who is always with him in all situation, neither a good husband to a girl who is ready to give anything for him, and finally he even dont became good lover to his love for which he left every one.

    Zoya – Similarly not good for parents, friend, wife for husband finally not a good lover.

    This story tells not Love There is no love at all in this movie. When girl is not loving you but loving someone else then running behind her is harm for both. And the great Zoya, Luxurious marriage is very important to her rather than her husband life risk and she ready to play such big drama.

    Just Waste of time movie S—S. Songs are good but not upto the mark of AR (4/5) Dhanush acting first time in hindi great (5/5)

    • Ankit

      August 7, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Fall in love someday, dear!

  3. soham

    June 29, 2013 at 9:32 am

    gr8 movie…… i mean dhanush juzzz rock man!!!!!! excellent work!!!!!

  4. neelima

    June 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    dhanush sonam & swara were not acting..simlpy living as kundan zoya & bindiya..esp. dhanush..wow!!!!

  5. Vivek

    July 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Awesme movie came after long time..
    This is not a ‘love story” actualy the “story of love”

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