Atrangi Re Movie Review: Aanand L Rai’s Atrangi Re, as the name suggests, is supposed to be a weird movie. Or bizarre, if I have to take a more appropriate meaning usage. It is a love triangle featuring Dhanush, Sara Ali Khan and Akshay Kumar, that, yes, is pretty unconventional. And I am not talking in terms of the nearly 30-year age gap between Sara and the parallel lead in her father’s ’90s movies like Yeh Dillagi, Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Keemat etc. Akshay’s heroine in his next movie, Prithviraj, is two years younger than Sara, so that’s just Bollywood being Bollywood. Sara Ali Khan Says Her Atrangi Re Co-Star Dhanush Is The ‘Most Inspiring Actor’ And ‘Most Helpful Team Player’.
But maybe I am a little unfair to Atrangi Re. The dynamic between Sara and Akshay’s characters in the movie – if you haven’t guessed that from the trailers and the songs – isn’t the usual one, and by the end of the film, Atrangi Re spins it into a new direction, that works on an emotional level and might come as a surprise to many if the movie hadn’t spoiled that twist a few scenes earlier. But even with that emotional revelation, the relationship between Sara’s Rinku and Akshay’s Sajjad Ali Khan becomes weirder for a complex that is best fit for Greek mythologies, as it doesn’t get rid of the romantic connotations. No matter how you spin it, this jodi is definitely odd, and at times creepy. Why couldn’t the makers go with a younger actor for Akshay’s role? It still would have worked!
So coming to the plot, Rinku is a hot-headed girl in her ’20s from a powerful family in a village in Bihar, who keeps eloping with her lover that no one in her family has seen, and then keeps getting caught. After her latest attempt, her daadi (Seema Biswas) gets her forcibly married to Vishu (Dhanush), a Tamilian medical student who unfortunately was in her village for what I believe to be a field trip. She is drugged, and he is dosed with laughing gas, and they are wedded like this.
Strangely, her family puts them in a train to Delhi the very next morning. After the shock of their forced wedding wears off, Rinku and Vishu know each other better, including their own names, Rinku’s parental tragedy and their love lives. Rinku is madly in love with a Muslim magician called Sajjad who has gone to Africa to perform, while Vishu is engaged to his dean’s daughter with whom he had a relationship with.
Of course, sparks fly between these two, because Bollywood still suffers from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam complex. Even if the marriage is forced, biwi toh biwi hai, and Vishu gets protective about Rinku, that he doesn’t even care his engagement gets broken off. Of course, now he also has to deal with the further complexication of the situation when Sajjad returns.
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Aanand L Rai is a good director, who grasps the emotional turmoil of the characters really well, and renders them beautifully to the big screen. He does have a knack of directing character bonding scenes in a nice manner. Even though his ambitious last directorial – Zero – failed to perform, I still like the movie. Atrangi Re also has its moments that work in parts, helped by the beautiful cinematography of Pankaj Kumar, and the chemistry between Sara and Dhanush. Not to mention, AR Rahman’s score is fabulous. After a long time, I got a soundtrack from the music maestro that I could sync with, with “Rait Zara Si” being a personal fave. Also, the decision to let Dhanush’s character to speak in Tamil when he is with his folks and when he is the most emotional is also a nice touch (also giving Atrangi Re its best scene in the process).
However, no matter how good Rai’s direction is, it can do little to cover up the flawed and rushed writing (done by his frequent collaborator, Himanshu Sharma) that lets down Atrangi Re. Big time, at that.
Look, I understand Vishu getting attracted to a feisty Rinku, but him forgetting his present relationship in an instant makes him look like an a-hole. Many of the crucial scenes in the film don’t make much sense. Like Vishu bringing Rinku to his engagement in Tamil Nadu, when he could have just let her stay in a hotel for a couple of days. Or how when Vishu’s entire college figures out Rinku’s errr… peculiarity, why her family never figured it out for years? There are also some continuity issues. In a scene, Vishu jumps out of a running rickshaw and we see a barren field in the background. But the next scene sees him coming out of the same vehicle in the middle of traffic, with a car next to him!
Maybe, Rai thought that with the good actors he has at his hand and the poetic manner in which he shoots their scenes, he might be able to let the viewer off the hook about how ludicrous they sound otherwise. But I can’t help but shake in disbelief when the movie expects us to believe that patients suffering from delusions, schizophrenia et al can all manage to see the same hallucination. Which is merely the surface of the deeply problematic manner in which Atrangi Re handles psychological disorders – a crucial plot point here. It is childish and silly, especially considering the characters we are dealing with here are supposed to be medical personnel. Atrangi Re: Sara Ali Khan Shares a Fun BTS From Aanand L Rai’s Film and It Will Make You Even More Excited for the Film.
The use of out-of-place humour in handling some of these scenes also don’t help matters much. Even more awkward is the lead characters emphasising on their Brahmin caste – she is proud of her Suryavanshi lineage, and Vishu is from a Brahmin family. Yes, the third lead – Sajjad Ali Khan – is a Muslim, but then we have a scene where he inexplicably lampoons Shajahan for making Taj Mahal, and then makes him say Hindu slogans like Jai Kanhaiya Lal Ki. Considering the twist around his character, I presume it is not Sajjad’s problem, but that Rinku is a persistent bigot!
Atrangi Re also drags in several places, especially in the second half, as the film begins to run circles around the love triangle. The film gets a little better near the climax, with the emotional revelation around Sajjad’s story, but again, also adds an Elektra complex in the process. The scene would have been far more effective if the twist about Sajjad’s identity wasn’t revealed much earlier in a conversation between Vishu and his friend Madhusudan (Ashish Verma). Also, how the film wraps up the love story with a happy ending feels very rushed, considering Rinku just had a life-changing realisation a couple of minutes earlier.
I believe that if I cared about Atrangi Re in some parts, it has very much to do with Dhanush. It isn’t a very well-written role, and Rai, annoyingly, also imbibes some of Raanjhanaa‘s Kundan into Vishu. But the actor lets his craft dazzle through the problematic writing and uncomfortable Hindi diction. Just see the scene where he is seen crying through the laughing gas during the forced wedding sequence. Or in my most favourite scene, when he lets out his frustrations and emotions to Rinku in the hostel grounds, and even though she can’t understand what he says, she figures it out. It is a brilliant acting moment in the movie – a high that it never replicates.
Just what should I say about Sara Ali Khan! This girl is a natural, she is confident and undaunting around her two senior (and National Award winning) male co-stars. But there are times where I feel that she goes a little overboard with her expressions and her act – a problem that I saw in Love Aaj Kal 2 as well. Again, she isn’t helped by the writing around her character, but there is no denying that Sara lights up the screen whenever she is there.
When taken out of the weird equation he shares with Sara in the movie, Akshay is effective as always in what is a supporting role for the actor. But I sincerely wished he wasn’t chosen for the role, even though he works well with the fantastical quality around the character. Again, it has nothing to do with the mettle of the actor.
– AR Rahman’s Music
– Akshay’s Casting
Atrangi Re is a unusual love triangle that only worked in parts for me and those parts mostly had to do with Dhanush and AR Rahman’s mellifluous score. Atrangi Re is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
(The above story first appeared on The Hamden Journal on Dec 24, 2021 12:43 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website thehamdenjournal.com).