This is my counter review of the Kathy Gibson’s review of the film Raanjhana in her blog. I somehow felt that she might not have understood the essence of the film. Hence, this post is my point of view countering her views on the film.
There are some movies that you watch with the mind and there are some movies that you watch with the heart. Raanjhana is a movie that belongs to the latter.
Not to mean any disrespect, but usually film critics tend to over complicate plots by over analyzing minor plot points and skipping over the major ones. So much so, that they tend to loose the connect that the film tends to make with audiences.
Raanjhana is a movie that resonates with the soul of India. It is set in the heartland of India, with a story that may be the story of many Indians. Calling Kundan a stalker, is akin to calling a soldier a terrorist.(ie. A soldier may be a warrior and hero to his people, but to people the opposing side he is a bringer of doom and terror). It is a view, in keeping with the sub-title of your blog. “The review from an American movie goers perspective”
What may seem like stalking, is the story of many happily married couples in India. Usually most love stories in India start off like this. Somehow, you have managed to equate the innocence of wooing of a girl with the fanatical antics of a stalker. Raanjhana is a movie to be watched with the heart and not the mind.
Kathy, I somehow feel that you have failed to feel the pulse of the movie. Here’s why i feel that you have missed the pulse. (May be the sub-titler of the movie was stalked by a stalker, on the day he was writing sub titles:P)
1) “Kundan doesn’t take the hint and instead acts like a manipulative drama queen.He slits his wrists, then stages a sham marriage to his childhood friend, Bindiya (Swara Bhaskar) to try to make Zoya jealous”.
The fact that he slits his wrists is true. This is out of the sheer desperation and dejection that he feels when, someone he managed to remain true to for 8 years despite the advances of Bindiya. If you recollect, there is a scene in the movie just before Zoya returns, where Bindiya tries to seduce him but Kundan rejects her advances. Sometimes, when something you thought and believed to be true, turns to out to be anything but it, it hurts and hurts bad and the same happened to Kundan.
The other thing that I like to point out is that Kundan does not stage a sham marriage to Bindiya. (I have a feeling that you have been watching too many Bollywood films that you have started generalizing the plots from one film to another, Heyyy I’ve been there and done that too. But this film is different.).
What Kundan tells Zoya is that he will take care of making sure that Zoya and Akram will get hitched, this despite the fact that this is the girl that he waited for 8 years to get married to. He then goes and speaks to Zoya’s father and tells her that it was him that was in love with his daughter 8 years back. (Note: Upto this point Zoya’s father did not know that it was Kundan, who was in love with his daughter. I have a feeling that you did not get this, reading your review.). He then convinces Zoya’s father to let Zoya marry Akram. He then in a moment of madness, decides to get married to the girl who loves him more than anything in the world. Why I say that you got it wrong by calling the marriage a sham to get Zoya jealous, is because when Zoya’s father in the hospital asks him that it was his marriage on the same day as his daughter, he truly feels that he has wronged Bindiya and rushes home. This is why I feel that the marriage is not a sham.
2) Kundan robs Zoya of her home, family, love, and future, all because she doesn’t love him in return.
You forget that Kundan had his trust robbed, when Akram turns out to be a Hindu, Abhay. To wait for your love and then be spurned is one thing and then to have your trust broken by the same girl for who you worked so hard to setup her married can sometimes be painful. (Sometimes I feel that you are a bit too partial towards Zoya in your review).
3) What makes Raanjhanaa more interesting than another recent stalker-as-hero movie, Ekk Deewana Tha, is that the movie acknowledges that Kundan is in the wrong. He recognizes his mistakes, and justice is served in the end.
I’m not sure that you got what the last part of the movie was trying to say. This is what it says:
I had my heart where the fire still burned,
I would have gotten up but for whom,
I would have screamed but for whom,
My Love Zoya, the gullys of Benares, Bindiya, Murari were all slipping from my grip.
A command from my heart could either would revive me or kill me.
But, now why should I get up,
Who will again put the effort to fall in Love,
And then have the heart broken again.
Somebody make a sound and stop be before I slip,
This girl who with saddened eyes is sitting beside me,
If she even today says something,
I promise to God I will come back.
But no, I do not have a mood now.
Only in closing my eyes is there peace,
Only in sleeping eternally is there good.
But wake i will one day,
On the lakes of the Ganges, to play the drum(Dumruu),
To run in the gullies,
Only to fall in love with another Zoya all over again.
So I am not sure what you meant by he realizes his mistake and serving Justice in the end.
4) Yet the fact that the story is told from Kundan’s perspective is problematic. Most of the movie’s second half is about Kundan trying to redeem himself in Zoya’s eyes, though his actions are heinous enough that he doesn’t deserve forgiveness.
I am not sure what is the crime that you are talking about. The fact that Kundan loved Zoya dearly, why should that be a crime. I think it was as much Zoya’s fault that Abhay dies, because she hid the fact that Abhay was a Hindu from Kundan, when she could have told him the truth when she told Kundan that she loved someone else. So Kundan deserving forgiveness, well why should he deserve forgiveness, when Zoya manages to kill two of her lovers in the film. Shouldn’t it be her who deserves forgiveness. (Like, I said before you are too partial towards Zoya in your review).
5) The fact that he believes his actions are motivated by love is itself a kind of self-administered absolution, a shield for behavior that would otherwise be deemed evil. Perhaps the story might have been more satisfying had Kundan realized during his atonement that what he feels for Zoya is obsession, not love.
Kundan’s actions are not motivated by love, but more by dismay and guilt that he indirectly was responsible for the death of another human being. More so of the girl he loved. You fail to understand that Kundan reached a point in his life where does not know how to atone for his sin. That is why he helps out in the community kitchen and the does work aimlessly in the tea stall providing tea for the members of the party that Abahy founded. Before, finally joining the work of the party. Because, he feels that only by achieving the ideals that Abhay stood for would he truly absolve himself of the sins that he committed.
I totally agree with your views that it was a welcome change to see that the leading men were portrayed by men you don’t look like professional bodybuilders.
Kathy, this movie is which talks about the timelessness of love. It is a tale of characters which are complex and made up of many layers that are unraveled layer by layer at different times in the movie. Be it the unflinching friendship of Murari, the at times jealous but always innocent love of Bindiya towards Kundan, the friendship of Bindiya, Kundan and Murari or the pure unconditional love that Kundan has for Zoya. This film also talks about the equality of gender as demonstrated by the way Kundan treats Bindiya, equality of religion as demonstrated by the love of Zoya and Abhay or Kundan and Zoya.
All in all, a film that has so much of depth that sometimes it is hard to take it all in a single viewing. The characters are believable and very endearing.
It is a film that stays with you long after the credits roll. A Bollywood film that finally depicts true love, unlike the over the top romances of Karan Johar. A film that touches your very soul.
Dhanush does a wonderful job and is the perfect fit for the role of Kundan. Sonam Kapoor impresses in parts. Swara Bhaskar remember this name, gives a stellar performance as Bindiya and so too does Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub as Murari.
All in all, a film that is a breath of fresh air amongst remakes, no brainer comedys, cheezy dialogues, clichés. Raanjhanaa, a film that captures love in its most purest form, and more importantly the spirit of India, that is missing in most Bollywood films these days.