Cinema is the true reflection of the society. Although there have been a lot of changes taking place in Hindi Cinema (I am not comfortable with the term ‘Bollywood’), especially in terms of technological advancements, an upsurge in independent and parallel cinema, online platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc. enabled audiences and creators to consume and produce different tastes. Largely Hindi Cinema, in general, and mainstream, in particular, is still dominated by ‘Masala Movie’ and love stories.
Year after year, almost the same kind of stories are being poured in front of audiences in different and lucrative packages. Anyway, here the point of discussion isn’t to criticize or pass any judgement on Hindi Cinema, but to closely look at one of the blockbusters, which released in 2013 and recently celebrated its seventh-year anniversary, i.e. Raanjhanaa.
Aanand L. Rai had come up with a ‘fresh’ Benaras-based romantic drama with Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor in lead roles. The movie was garnered in audiences and earned well. A lot of lines like “Oye rickhawwale, paise mat lena, bhabhi hai teri” mesmerised the youngsters. Recently, this film has completed its seven years. Even though this movie is being considered one of the best feature film anchored in Benaras and UP, I found something very erroneous about it.
The first encounter of the leading actors, i.e. Kundan (Dhanush) and actress Joya (Sonam Kapoor), occurs at Joya’s home while she was offering namaaz. The amusing part is that Kundan who was hardly a 10-year boy firmly fell in love with the girl of the same age, and robustly decided he will marry that girl. This ‘pehli nazar ka pyaar‘ has always played a very beneficial and productive role for the cinema industry, but at the same time, is hazardous and illusionary for the society. It is a well-accepted fact that love doesn’t occur in vacuum; it takes time to ‘evolve’. This notion of love at first sight even at such an early age is unpragmatic and deluded.
Kundan is a Brahmin boy, whose father is a priest in a temple. After meeting that girl at such a young age, the ultimate goal for Kundan is to get that girl. He tries all the ways possible to get that girl in his life by stalking wherever she goes (a very common and well-accepted facet for Hindi audience), including holding his hand in the centre of the market. The worst part is the girl ‘feels good’ about all of this.
When it comes to reality, we don’t get such rosy happenings in real life. When Joya does not accept Kundan’s love proposal, he goes out of the way by cutting his hand’s nerves by labelling this stupid action as Uttar Pradesh ke aashikon ka ultimate try.
Kundan has nothing to do with his study and career. He is a full-time aashiq (lover) whose only goal is to get that girl into his life no matter what he has to go through. In due course of time, when Joya revs up in her life bravely and joins one of the prestigious institutes of India, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi; in Benaras, Kundan does nothing except eagerly waiting for Joya to get back.
At JNU, Joya joins academic politics and the student union, and falls in love with the leader of that union. During the vacation, when she comes back to Benaras, she cannot even recognize Kundan. Although Kundan knows that apart from the religious differences, there are some very crucial and clear-cut lags that have arisen between both of them in the form of educational background, career prospects (which are negligible in Kundan), he does not work hard. He seems more interested in taking a different approach, by helping Joya’s father with household jobs. He does not put a tiger in the tank to make his life better from the point of social security.
Clearly Joya addresses the issue and lets Kundan know that she is in a relationship with a boy in Delhi and they would get married soon. The boy, who Joya was supposed to marry, is a Hindu but she introduces him as a Muslim in Benaras. Kundan is devastated. Here, Joya spoke a white lie to convince her family to get her love legitimate by socially accepted means i.e. marriage.
But the moment Kundan gest to know the truth, he feels cheated. Here, at this very point, he is supposed to self-introspect. As the movie clearly depicts, he loves Joya a lot, even then, she doesn’t wish to marry him; what is the root cause of the same? The fact is that even if he is ‘cheated’ and betrayed, is he allowed to go and ruin his so-called lover’s marriage? A beautiful dream, he ruined in just a few minutes and unfortunately that groom was killed!
After all this muddle, Kundan still tries to get her love back and commits a severe mistake, because he goes to JNU where he finds Joya (where she is trying to live with that new normal), and in due course of time, he begins to continuously poke into Joya life in the name of love and regret.
At one point of time, the intensity of Kundan’s unacceptable behaviour gets too much, and Joya, fed up, tries to get rid of this person. The only mistake she makes is that which made Kundan the ‘hero figure’ is when she knowingly sends him to a rally where there was a serious death threat. Kundan dies, and Joya becomes a villain for the audience. Kundan, a true lover boy who accepted death in love, ‘jo pyar par mit gaya’ and Joya, the villain who was main cause of Kundan’s destruction.
If we take this blockbuster, I find that undoubtedly this film made its commercial success and left an impression on the audiences, but it failed on various grounds. Whether it is a Masala Movie or parallel cinema, the responsibility of the cinema is very crucial because the imprint of the cinema is qualitative and manifest in nature. One cannot see from naked eyes but it does make differences in people’s lives.
This movie failed to portray the real depiction of the movie and loses on moral grounds. It shows that a baby can fall in love at first sight even at such an early age. A lover boy has nothing to do for his career; he is not supposed to be serious about his family, no social responsibilities etc. A girl who constructed her identity and potential to do something in her life does not really matter; everybody wants her back in Kundan’s life.