Sunday, June 30, 2013

Anand L Rai's 'Raanjhna' shows traces of Mani Ratnam's staccato melodrama

Anand L Rai handles an interestingly explosive theme -- a Tamil Brahmin boy, Kundan, played by Dhanush, whose family settled in Varanasi nearly 200 years ago falls in love like any other Uttar Pradesh teenager with Zoya, played by Sonam Kapoor. The story takes some predictable stalking, teasing, and love and friendship of the teenager kind. Zoya is packed off to Aligarh and from there she goes off to JNU in New Delhi. She turns into an activist. When she returns to Varanasi, she is a stranger to her teenage romance and to Kundan. The story takes unbelievable turns -- what is new about that, cynics may ask -- and it does not make much sense. At Delhi, the political part of the story shows events from news headlines -- a silly obsession with some of the silly new directors who think that that they are being with the times by doing so -- like the protests of students near Raisina Hill and the farmers'protests at Bhatta Parsol -- and here too the characters become part of these developments without rhyme or reason.
You do not get the feel of Banaras, because it shown in terms of tableaux like Holi celebrations, the aarti,and the narrow alleys. They do not come alive because they are shown at breakneck speed as it were with the camera racing past characters and streets. It does not make sense. Does it help take story forward. It does but in a meaningless way. The transformation of Zoya from the Benares girl to a Aligarh girl to a JNU girl is not shown at all. Sonam Kapoor has given a brilliant performance of the character but Zoya remains a cardboard girl. The political dialogues written for Zoya and Jasjit (Abhay Deol) are lifeless. Dhanush played the role of Kundan as part Prabhu Deva and part Rajnikanth. He cannot be blamed because he brought to the role what he could from his background. But Dhanush is the least convincing character in the movie along with that Jasjit. Perhaps the only character that sounds true is the one played by Swara Bhaskar.
The music of A.R. Rehman is quite cacophonic. There is a strange influence of Mani Ratnam on the whole movie with its staccato melodrama, where the scenes are tightly framed but which convey no great depth, and the story leaps across the scenes and there is the delusion of fast-paced narrative.

2 comments:

Dr. Subbarayudu G.K. said...

See my fb note, Parsa. Perhaps you'll re-view your review--subbu

Ramachandra Parsa ( Parsa V R Rao ) said...

A sensitive Review.

All said and done Sonam turns in a captivating performance and Dhanush is really the UP teenager madly in love. He acted well.
With these two artistes doing their parts soulfully, they have eclipsed all other flaws of story line, music and poor direction in failing to show Varanasi as it is.

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