Raanjhanaa is a love story that has a Shakespearean touch and is mounted on a bountiful scale. Set in Benaras, in a sense, the heart of India, the first half in the vivacious city where the Ganges flows, just sweeps you off your feet with its color and feel. The plot follows Kundan (Dhanush), a Tam-Bram settled in Benaras. A slight vagabond, he falls terribly in love with Zoya (Sonam Kapoor), a fairly affluent Muslim girl in his neighborhood. And his feelings are wonderfully conveyed through dialogue written by Himanshu Sharma and songs composed by Rahman.
Like an obsessed puppy, Kundan is happy to shadow Zoya from morning to night, till her parents hear of it. Obviously, they think it’s preposterous for their teenage daughter to have a crazy Hindu admirer. So she is quickly `banished’ to live with an aunt in another city.
But the separation cannot stop Kundan’s passion from growing wings. Taking a vow of celibacy, he waits tolerantly for his lady love to come home. When she returns, she talks of how she has fallen in love with another man Akram/Jaspreet ( Abhay Deol), a senior at her university in Delhi. Kundan is shocked but he has a heart of gold. He more or less relents to becoming the best man at Zoya’s union to Jassi. But life doesn’t play out in a straight line. The different twists and turns that follow unravel a mystery.
And around this time, the chinks in the script also show. All of a sudden, Raanjhanaa seems like two different films. In the first half, it is a fascinating, intense, introspective love story, where you empathize with the characters. In the second half, the love story gets weak to make way for gobbledygook political ideology that is an irritant.
Director Aanand Rai should be credited for drawing a excellent performance from the National Award-winner Tamil superstar, Dhanush, who makes his Hindi cinema debut here. His Kundan is a gem (pun intended). Sonam Kapoor is in top form giving Zoya numerous shades from giggly to grey. Unfortunately, she gets covered more for her bollywood fashion than her true mettle as an actor.