Synopsis – The story follows Rinku Sooryavanshi, a young woman who is forced to marry the quirky Vishu, despite being in love with extravagant circus ringmaster Sajjad.
My Take – Ever since they first teamed up for the delightful Tanu Weds Manu (2011), director Aanand L. Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma have proven to be a delightful pair who churn out simple seeming love stories but with enough complexities to make them stand out.
Unlike other entries of the genre, their films empower lovers with the boldest of impulses and set up curious obstacles, often of their own making, to act as hindrances to their happy ending. A winning, whimsical and fantastical formula further enhanced in follow up films like Raanjhanaa (2013) and Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015) before things went slightly off-track both commercially and critically with the ambitious Zero (2018).
However, their latest tale, a new bizarre yet heartwarming cocktail of love and madness is right up their alley. While there are parts of the film that will leave you baffled and curious for more details, it never fails to entertain.
Armed with a unique story at hand, a refreshing soundtrack and some fine performances, the film manages to make keep you hooked on for 137 minutes as we slowly witness the unveiling of a weird triangle love story between its three principal characters. This one is without a doubt, director Aanand L Rai’s bravest attempt in storytelling.
The story follows Rinku (Sara Ali Khan), a Bihar based youngster who due to her penchant for running away from her home in order to unite with her magician lover, Sajjad Ali Khan (Akshay Kumar), on the behest of her grandmother (Seema Biswas) is forcefully married off to V Venkatesh Vishwanath Iyer aka Vishu (Dhanush), a senior medical student from Tamil Nadu.
Kidnapped and drugged by Rinku’s relatives, Vishu protests and fails to explains to that he himself is set to be married off to Mandy (Dimple Hayathi) the daughter of his college dean, all falling to deaf ears. But while Rinku and Vishu come to an understanding that she will leave with Sajjad once he returns from training in Africa, the snag in their plan appears when Vishu develops feelings for Rinku, and when Sajjad actually arrives, resulting in some unexpected turns along the way.
As one would expect, director Aanand L Rai takes the simplest route to reach an extremely complicated destination as far as the storytelling is concerned. Here, director Aanand L Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma have yet again come up with a novel story revolving around protagonists who are poles apart and unlikely to meet in real-life or normal circumstances.
The film makes sure to keep the intrigue alive most of the time building things on the go while moving towards the finish point. The film strays off the beaten path and creates a new, hitherto un-attempted and unexplored conflict in a love story. But most importantly, the story subtly touches upon the issue of mental health as well but at no points gets preachy.
Though the film gets better as it gets weirder, which isn’t to say that the conceit works all the time and runs the risk of trivializing its ideas and diluting the impact of sustained violence on Rinku.
Without a doubt, A. R. Rahman‘s infectious soundtrack is the major highlight of the film. The end credits rightfully begin with the Oscar winner’s name as he is the backbone of this romantic drama. Performance wise, Dhanush just owns every frame he’s injecting pure conviction in every scene. Whether he’s expressing shock and anger at being abducted or admitting his love for Rinku, or the helplessness he shows when he feels he’ll lose her to another man, the actor is in brilliant form all throughout.
Sara Ali Khan puts her heart into his role as Rinku, and delivers her performance with spunk and tremendous conviction. Despite Dhanush’s exceptional presence, it’s Sara Ali Khan’s visible efforts that cements the hope of how better she could get with a proper script in hand. It wasn’t just the effortless physical attributes of Rinku that she becomes adept at, but also the modulation of her accent that she skillfully controls.
Though Akshay Kumar gets a limited scope, his character is integral to the story and features in one of the highlight scenes of the film. Ashish Verma as Vishnu’s friend Madhusudhan, lends great support and steadily brings in a good dose of comedy. On the whole, ‘Atrangi Re’ is an unusual yet entertaining and delightful film bolstered by some fine performances and soulful tunes.
Directed – Aanand L. Rai
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 137 minutes