Raanjhanaa

Cast: Dhanush, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Baskar, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub; Director: Anand Rai; Music: A R Rahman

The film was in focus for many reasons. It is Dhanush’s Bollywood debut. It’s a test for a south Indian hero in the competitive (and apparently racist) Hindi film industry. It is the second film by the director who gave the cold Tanu Weds Manu. How will Dhanush, without knowing Hindi, pull off credibly as a Banarasiwalla?

Well, it turns out that we needn’t have worried about many of these. Dhanush is as confident in his ‘Bollywood’ debut as in a Selvaraghavan flick. And with the way the film is welcomed by all the industry and most surprisingly, his Hindi was extremely good, indicating what must be an enormous hard work from the actor.

As for the content, Raanjhanaa works largely in suspending your disbelief. You don’t question many of the film’s flaws until you return home and sit down to mull over the film. The director effectively arrests the logical part of your brain and lets you immerse in the festivities of Banaras, the songs and the infectious charm of Dhanush. The real Banaras may or may not be the one you see on the screen, the real Zoyas may or may not be so indulgent of the boys who deliver gas cylinder to their houses, but on screen, when Dhanush makes his boorish overtures, we shamelessly pine for him. Such is the power of cinema and an inspired acting. Therefore, you don’t question why Zoya couldn’t remember someone who almost killed himself in front of her, why her parents couldn’t bother to do any background checking of a guy they were about to marry their daughter to, why the cops couldn’t bother to arrest Zoya when they knew about the conspiracy and, worse, after she confessed to the media about her involvement in it, and how long would it normally take for a tea boy to become a leader of a political party!

Strangely, as big a hole as they can be in the plot, we don’t question any of them, at least not whilst watching the film. We are engrossed in the progress of the film and walk out of the interval looking forward to more of Banaras and more colours. Alas, we are suddenly taken away from the small town and thrust into the JNU campus in Delhi. If only we’d known what was to follow, we would have cried like a child taken away from its holiday and into the school! Yes, we enter into the school (JNU) along with Dhanush and into the world of politics. We expect more of twists and turns, how much ever preposterous they can be. But nothing much happens except our small-town ‘londa’ turning into a leader of the big-town much to the chagrin of our leading lady. We secretly wonder if by some excuse the film will ever return to the Banaras where Dhanush will again break into a song and dance routine!

That doesn’t happen and we walk out feeling like a kid whose roller-coaster was stopped half-way through the ride and asked to go home.