Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Raanjhanaa by Aanand Rai

By turns cliched and confusing, this is a well-made film.  It could be a companion piece to Suraj ka Satwan Ghoda (Shyam Benegal, 1993), which also explores the question of class in romance.

Ostensibly a drama/romance, the film offers some genuine pleasures and is never predictable.

There is no question that it is a brave move for Mr Dhanush to star in a Hindi film with looks that will easily invite derision and ridicule, especially from most of North Indian population which is hung-up on looking Aryan.  He is neither fair, nor muscular, nor does he have a commanding presence, and his mannerisms and personality are clearly that of an underdog and of a thoroughly "beta" male.

It is admittedly hard to admire an actor but to loath his character.  The Indian audience, I daresay, is not yet evolved enough to tolerate unlikable traits in their "heroes".  The hero (and the heroine) has to be all perfect.  Perhaps because we go to movies for wish-fulfillment rather than edification.

This is the first mainstream Indian film that I have seen in which the romantic hero is, quite consciously, shown as unattractive and having little appeal.  Except of course for his passion for the woman, which, rather surprisingly, is not reciprocated.

There are scenes in the film in which the hero is brutally humiliated.  Sometimes by himself, and sometimes by his love interest.  There is a not-so-subtle strain of masochism and of wanting to sacrifice all for love.  Mr Dhanush plays a character so thirsty for love and validation that it does not matter to him how his groveling appears to whom whose love he needs so badly.

He perhaps knows that he stands no chance in this romance.  On the other hand we have a blue-blooded boy who seems to win this love (from the same woman) without so much as lifting a finger.

What about the woman, though?  What qualities does she possess, other than a somewhat chiseled face, that these two men want to endanger their lives for her?  We are not really supposed to know.

Except a minor quibble about Mr Dhanush's accent and about certain amateurish plot devices (discrediting a doctor suitor is a good instance of sloppy writing), I think the film generally works.  The film does offer some unrelated minor pleasures.There is a somewhat hilarious parody of leftist student politics, and the music by A R Rahman is pleasing to the ears.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The film should be renamed "the making of lord shiva" mr. Shiv ji maharaj!!