Review of Raanjhanaa, a 2013 Bollywood film Directed by Aanand Rai and Starring Dhanush, Sonam’s Kapoor, Abhay Deol

GRADE: JUST SAD / 10%Raanjhanaafilmposter.jpg

Summary: Raanjhanaa is a ki

nd of film that makes you want to thump your forehead with a sledgehammer. It’s less painful to gouge out your eyes than to watch Dhanush and Sonam attempting to romance in this movie.


Dhanush –Kundan
Sonam Kapoor – Zoya
Abhor Deol -Akram

Sonam Kapoor is box-office poison, and it’s entirely her own bloody fault for poisoning her films with her forgettable performances. In Raanjhanaa, she plays Zoya, a rebellious Muslim girl who participates in anti-government rallies, dharnas and satyagrahas along with her boyfriend Akram, a student leader. Both study at Jawaharlal Nehru University, a prestigious college in Delhi which may get a bad name now because the film suggests that all the agitations and fierce political and philosophical debates held by it’s students fall useless to a common man’s smooth-talk and makhan-maroing (buttering).

I digress here but I cannot help it; my mind is boiling with such an intense agitation, I can’t stop complaining (read: spewing venom) about each and every frame of this ‘ch*du’ film. Raanjhanaa has little to do with politics, and its basically about a loafer named Kundan being besotted by Zoya since childhood but losing her after her parents find out she’s in love with a Hindu. The political angle is basically to add some complexity to their love story, and Sonam’s part involves falling in love with Kundan, losing him, falling for the JNU guy and later losing him forever after his death, and then the gradual reconciliation with Kundan  but with a twist.

Sonam seems like an actress who must’ve slept through all her acting classes and needn’t have to sleep with anyone to enter the industry, being the daughter of actor Anil Kapoor. She does not know how to pause, how to intonate and how to feel her lines; she has a few stock expressions (adding a few with each film. In a previous debacle called ‘I Hate Luv Stories’, I remember she just had two) to fall back upon and enough of glycerine to help her cry. But she has next to nil screen talent.

Complementing her in ineptitude is Dhanush, a National Award winning Tamil superstar who may have some screen talent (didn’t see much here through) but has zero screen presence as lovestruck Kundan. Even an apparition would’ve had more screen presence than what Dhanush had in this film.

Let me prove this. He has a stick figure for a body but so does Nawazzudin Siddique, so this point isn’t valid. He moves as though there are strings attached to his hands and feet, especially when he dances. When he acts it seems as though he’s thinking how he shall speak the next sentence in Hindi convincingly. It end up looking like he is practicing how to act on screen than actually acting.

His diction is poor, and his narration is very flat because he is afraid he might screw up if he takes any intonations. Bollywood actress Sridevi, a South Indian herself, fumbled at times while playing the Marathi housewife who’s takes up English classes while on a trip to America, but had remarkable screen presence and great confidence at showing lack of the same (as her character is supposed to lack confidence). Dhanush has zero charisma and little confidence here; it’s better he literally glue himself to the South and never ever look North towards Bollywood – the pole star doesn’t shine on him.

His character Kundan has a dreadfully ill-defined characterisation; he spends the first forty (agonizing) minutes of Raanjhanaa hitting on Sonam’s Kappor’ character Zoya, first as a teenager, then an as adult. He saves her from getting married to a suitor chosen by her parents, and later convinces her father to allow her to marry the man she loves, all while loving her unconditionally himself.

After her boyfriend is discovered to be a Hindu and is beaten up by the Muslim community (throw in caste issue just to make the film more controversial), Kundan accompanies Zoya to her boyfriend, who has been shifted to Delhi.

On reaching his home, Kundan releases that he is dead; the man is so shattered he runs out crying and vomits (buttermilk most probably, judging from the colour) in the garden as though HE was the guy’s lover. Later he becomes a chai-walla at JNU and joins Zoya and her fellow student protestors in rallies.

It doesn’t take much time before he replaces Sonam as the leader in their youth party, and then Raanjhanaa’s director Aanand Rai decides a further twist of betrayal is required, along with an obligatory ‘American Beauty’-like monologue at the end, where Kundan narrates the fate of each of the film’s major characters. Of course, as nothing in the film can be taken seriously, the monologue sounds just as cheap as everything else.

‘Chutiya’ (stupid) is used a couple of times in the film and some people in the audience sniggered like ten-year olds only because Dhanush was mouthing them. They really should’ve sat next to me because the words that flowed from my mouth while watching Raanjhanaa were way worse than chutiya.

This is a movie that seriously lacks in all aspects of good film-making; along with weak and inept performances, it has horrid writing, weak cinematography and wasted music. The movie doesn’t give the feeling of Benaras, where much of the film is set and many of the scenes have an artificial look look like they were shot on readymade sets. The writing keeps adding new elements recklessly, like it mixes politics into the film in the second half just to tick the f*ck out us. Nobody in the cast or crew knows how to ‘capture a moment’ and that is what good film-making is about. And its funny how composer AR Rehman’s name roars out firsts in the closing credits, because the music is forgettable and functions only to fill the runtime, which should’ve been filled with good writing instead.

Raanjhanaa is a kind of film that makes you want to thump your forehead… with a sledgehammer. It’s less painful to gouge out your eyes than to watch Dhanush and Sonam attempting to romance in this movie. It’s Benaras is ‘bina ras’ (without essence), there’s only ‘vish’ (poison) here. But it was kind of expected when the film’s lead is the one and only Ms. Box office poison herself.


3 thoughts on “Review of Raanjhanaa, a 2013 Bollywood film Directed by Aanand Rai and Starring Dhanush, Sonam’s Kapoor, Abhay Deol

  1. Well its the really the first review that give the true impression of the film especially when other bollywood so called critics are singing paeans and going a-a over dhanush’s perfomance.. He was more spontaneous in films like Polladavan, Aaduaalam seriously he should cut down his bollywood aspirations and work on where he is best

    • Dummpkoff,
      I did mention in my review of Soodhu Kavvum, an excellent Tmil film I’d watched a few weeks back, that the lead actor had a very confident screen presence that worked to the fullest for his character, and such an actor had a shining future in the Tamil film industry.

      But if the same actor entered Bollywood and acted in a typical Bollywood movie, all his strengths would would be considered as weaknesses: his face, which gives the look of a common man, would be deemed ugly by Bollywood standards and he would barely bring the different type of charisma that typical yet good Bollywood film requires.

      Another problem with Dhanush is his unconvincing delivery. He would’ve nailed this character had this been a Tamil film. He needed to be a real rowdy rascal. Too bad his Hindi Is shoddy and absolutely lacks in ‘karaarapan’.


    • Dummpkoff,

      Now I wish to catch the Tamil comedy Thillu Millu. My current summer undergrad internship project involves conducting a survey among theatre patrons of a multiplex in Chennai, so I sneak in the halls (am permitted to, so not really committing a crime) and catch bits of every movie that’s running.

      I saw a couple of minutes of this and was laughing all the time. Tamil actors really have a good sense of hum or that complements their rapid-fire delivery. Some overact but with a joy and openness that makes their overacting fun to watch.


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