The week following the release of Raanjhana saw a barrage of reviews and analyses, triggered in no small measure by the novelty of a Tamil actor in Bollywood. Most reviewers were quite taken up by the audio-visual brilliance of the film — A.R. Rahman’s re-recording, the riot of colour and the painstakingly composed frames. The formidable talents of Dhanush, the male lead, too, drew much breathless hyperbole.
There was also discussion and debate on the misogynistic/deviant aspects of the story. However, for the most part, these seemed encumbered by a sense of obligation.
The protagonist's stalking, slitting of the wrists, and selfish cruelty towards Bindiya, his female friend, cannot be flippantly explained away, because they form the core of the story, the most explicit views on the character. However, there is a difference between portraying something on film and condoning it outright. If Raanjhanaa devotes reels to Kundan’s antics, it spares no effort in projecting the consequences of his actions.
Part of the hype, quite justified, was that Raanjhanaa’s storyline would evoke the imagery and shock-factor of Selvaraghavan’s work. While the visual artistry and the protagonist’s obsessive intensity are similar, director Anand L. Rai holds on to a redeeming thread of realism. In other words, Raanjhanaa would have been incongruous if Kundan had succeeded. Suspended disbelief on the one hand, we must credit the audience with knowing this too.
Debates on the disturbing aspects of the film come across as addenda that never quite fit in with the overall tone of approval.
If box office numbers are anything to go by, the approval is not isolated. Raanjhanaa crossed Rs. 50 crore at the end of its second week. In a month, it had breached the Rs. 100 crore mark, making it the third-biggest release of 2013.