Raanjhanaa joins the rank of recent love stories (Aashiqui 2, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani) that take the unconventional path of approaching the genre by exposing the dark underbelly of romance through shades of loss, regret, remorse, and pain. Despite a colourful and vivacious beginning, the film ends up being weighed down by its heavy melodramatic second half.
We are introduced to Kundan (Dhanush) and Zoya (Sonam) through a voiceover that takes us back to events leading to that very moment.
Set around the banks of Banaras, we learn that Kundan is not your regular Bollywood stalker.
He obsesses and loves Zoya to the extent that every slap and rejection is a thorn disguised as a flower in his mind.
Instances of his courting her through teenage and adulthood make for some of the liveliest frames on screen. There are chunks of humour through witty innuendos and engaging banter between the leads.
Further on this one-sided love story gets a communal twist when a Hindu boy marrying a Muslim girl becomes a topic of controversy.
Adding to this complication is Abhay Deol, who plays a student union leader from JNU. After separating from Kundan and moving to Delhi, Zoya falls in love with Abhay.
But, mind you this isn't your run-of-the-mill love triangle. The script throws up a major surprise which gives the film a serious tone making the proceedings less enjoyable.
Dhanush has neither the conventional good looks, nor the six-packs to cater to mainstream audience. And that strangely is his biggest asset.
Raanjhanaa works because of his ability to make you believe in his love for Zoya. You might not agree with his approach, but deep down you cheer and root for him each time Zoya plants a slap on his face.
His dialogue delivery has a unique ring to it which will be either music or noise to your ears. You can't help but draw comparison with his father-in-law Rajnikanth in a few scenes.
Sonam is at ease playing Zoya. She carries the heavy burden of making a smooth transition from being the effervescent girl next door to someone who is dealing with sudden loss. Also full credit to her for looking the part.
Supporting cast is a major highlight, especially Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub who plays Kundan's sidekick Murari. Swara Bhaskar does a fantastic job of playing the foul mouthed Bindiya who is jealous of Zoya. Abhay Deol impresses even in those few scenes.
Aanand Rai's Banaras comes alive with Rahman's slow yet melodious tunes and some amazing camera work.
We wish he had stuck to the feel and ethos of the first half and let that flow into the climax. Instead the storyline takes a nosedive post interval like a jet running out of fuel.
Zoya's change of mind and her internal struggle to address her feelings for Kundan doesn't seem very convincing. Also the 'retribution scene' leading to the climax feels rushed.
Raanjhanaa has a fantastic first half. Watch it for Dhanush and Sonam's performances and some colourful one-liners and dialogues.