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What Raanjhanaa teaches us about Love in India

Raanjhanaa-Dhanush with SonamThis is not a review. Far better posts have been written analyzing how Sonam could have performed better, Rahman’s compositions could have been more soulful and second half should not have taken the political twist.

I personally connected with the film totally and have no complaints at all. My solo defense for second half is that it would have been much easier for the writers to take a conventional route post interval. [Spoliers Ahead] Like keeping Jasjit alive and make Kundan work towards getting him and Zoya together. Or make Zoya realize what she had been overlooking and fall for Kundan towards the end of the film. But life, unfortunately, always puts us in a situation to which we have no answers. And we just drift along the flow. That’s what the two protagonists do in the second half. It is much easier to harm oneself- slitting wrists, drinking kerosene.; true love demands penance – complete surrender of oneself – despite continuous rejection & humiliation. And that is where Raanjhanaa scores !

But as I said earlier this is not a review. I just want to take a look at various facets of love through the prism of Raanjhanaa and underscore a few lessons that the film might have conveyed but got overshadowed in other discussions.

Lesson#1: “Love is a function of Time and Distance”

How many times have we heard people breaking-up over “Long- Distance” issues.True that Zoya’s love for Kundan was almost forced one due to his suicidal attempts but he got shift-deleted so easily from her hard disk as she moved out of Banaras?! Then how come the flame continued to burn in Kundan’s heart who worked his way up to become the Man Friday for Zoya’s family thinking that to be a qualification good enough to earn their approval? For the simple reason that while Kundan continued to live in the same world, Zoya had begun afresh! New faces, new ambiance, and the urge to have someone constantly “around you”, these become highly decisive factors in choosing a partner and Zoya falling for Jasjit was just one more case in this list.

Lesson #2: “You are not in love with her but in love with the idea of being in love with her”

Raanjhanaa uses the oldest Bollywood trick- guy mesmerized by the girl’s beauty and falling for her. That kind of infatuation always dies a natural death. But the problem with Kundan was the feeling got sowed when his mind was quite impressionable. And like most beliefs embedded in our  minds during that age, he tended to believe that she and her love was the end of the world. And that’s why another hot girl effortlessly surrendering herself  to him  does not lure him at all. Like religion, this feeling for Zoya was beyond all logic. As he rightly puts it before the interval ” Tumse pyaar karna tumhaara nahi mera talent tha… koi aur ladki hoti to usse bhi utna hi toot ke pyaar karta!” First love is always sacred because it makes you comfortable with a highly misplaced sense of heroism about it.

Lesson #3: “You can have a car of any color as long as it is black!”

This famous quote by Henry Ford could not be more true when it comes to marriages in India. We will have colleagues, best friends and even  business-partners from diverse background. We will donate generously for all festivals.  But when it comes to choosing a life partner he has to be from the same caste and religion. As if the individual chose it for himself and is to be blamed for having born in a particular family! No amount of qualification, intellect, social-standing or character can compensate for him belonging to a different sect.

Zoya was conscious of this when she was only in the ninth grade and slaps Kundan for lying to her about his religion. When it comes to love marriages, people choose their partners wisely to reduce hassles at home . So basically its not love but calculated risks. And when heart dominates head over these matters they put up big lie and hope they don’t caught till the rituals are over. But unfortunately, the truth always surfaces before you would want it to.

Lesson #4: “Its not about losing her. Its about someone else having her.”

Kundan never felt bad about Zoya not reciprocating his feelings. But the moment she mentions Jajit/Akram’s name, he almost attempts to drown both of them. Why? Because love is the most selfish thing. You don’t realize this but you start feeling a sense of ownership over the person. If she can’t be yours, she better not be someone else’s either.

And Kundan does not reveal  Jasjit’s  identity to Zoya’s father out of jealousy. Just the plain fact that one of the many reasons cited by her from the very beginning, for rejecting Kundan, was that he was a Hindu. And she completely chose to ignore it in Jasjit’s case !  So basically religion was never a factor. Call it elementary in the larger picture, given that she was never in love with Kundan in first place, these things always becomes difficult for anyone to digest.

Lesson#5: “Using. Refusing. Abusing.”

Was Zoya using Kundan. Yes if you consider the fact that she got him to remove the thorn (prospective doctor husband) from her life and fix her marriage with Jasjit as well. She continuously hugs him and pillion rides his scooter only to get away saying that she never thought of him more than a friend. But then was not Kundan using Bindiya as well to help him with Zoya ?

In this game of taking, the person with a soft corner for you, for granted, and not expecting him or her to build false hopes about a future with you is wrong on part of the person seeking help as well. The only defense for Kundan in this case is perhaps that he was overtly vocal about his feelings for Zoya throughout while Zoya keeps everyone guessing till the end. Is it a very gender-specific thing or are we being too biased. Well I guess guys are to be equally blamed for this. They will take all the slaps and even the spit on their face only to revel in the hope that someday she might change her heart ! Sadly, she never does.

Lesson #6: ” Man’s world vis-a-vis the woman’s”

What was on Jasjit’s mind as he lay on his deathbed while talking to Kundan in the hospital. Was it Zoya’s condition? No. Rather it was his unfinished work in politics. Love is just one of the many things in a man’s life. But when a woman falls in love, it’s the only thing in her life. She is completely unapologetic about it (kissing Jasjit in full public glare outside the examination hall) and makes the man’s world her own (actively taking part in party-activities once she becomes his girlfriend despite having no clue about it beforehand). She surrenders herself completely to her love and even goes to the extent of conniving her marriage to be with him. Strangely enough, the man, no matter how much rational he might be (and here he is the founder of a political party), becomes weak and ends up falling for her incredulous plans always.

Lesson #7: “My love is subject to society’s approval”

The pre-climax scene has Zoya confessing to Kundan “…duniya thukegi mujhpe agar maine tujhse pyaar kar liya”.  And this confession was no more a part of the plan to get him to the rally which was designed to take away his life. She actually did end up feeling immense admiration & gratitude for this man who so selflessly dedicated his entire life to her. She was equally guilty of Jasjit’ death. But whose penance was stronger? Kundan could have run away but he chose the more arduous path of redemption. It is difficult not to like such a person. But if that is the case then why did she let him goto the rally at all? For the simple reason that she wanted to get rid of him!

It was neither vengeance for Jasjit’s death nor envy over loosing out the Party Leader’s position to him. She was falling for him and the only way to curb this feeling was to permanently get rid of him. Even if both of them knew that she was not being opportunistic, the world would have interpreted her as exactly that. ‘How could she have the same man in her life who was responsible for her ex-lover’s death?’ The writers decided to leave these interpretations open to us and simplified by having Zoya put it up in a single phrase “…maine yeh kyun kiya yeh batane mein aap logon ko puri raat nikal jaayegi.” Some questions are better left unanswered.

Lesson#8 : “Nobody really moves on in life.”

I have heard so many people giving relationship advice to others to move on. What on earth does it exactly mean? That you completely eradicate your ex-lover’s memory from your mind like the protagonists in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind did? Or does it mean that you become so thick-skinned that you cease to bother about them? You may delete your inbox, move onto another relationship and even marry someone on the very day your ex-flame is getting married, but their memories will continue to haunt you.

And all this is because of the simple reason that a person molds you into a new being when you are with them. So when they move out of your world, they take away that part of you with them and it never comes back leaving you void from within and too exhausted to walk on the same path again.

As Kundan sums it up beautifully at the end “Mahadev ki kasam, agar woh ab bhi bole ki pyaar hai to dobaara se uth jaayein. Par ab saala mood nahi hai. Kaun phir se pyaar kare… dil lagaye?”  Sadly enough, this bitter truth about love and life is what lingers in our minds as we walk out of the theaters. Nobody really moves on. Just the interpretation of memories change.














By: Abhishek Chatterjee
Posted: June 27, 2013, 6:30 pm


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