Aanand L Rai on Dhanush's odd casting in 'Raanjhanaa'; talks about allegation of romanticizing stalking
Aanand L Rai discusses resistance to casting Dhanush in Raanjhanaa due to unconventional hero standards. Rai addresses stalking allegations, explaining cultural context in the film
Aanand L Rai recently delved into the unconventional casting of Dhanush in the 2013 film Raanjhanaa and addressed allegations of promoting stalking in the movie. Despite being a well-known figure in the Tamil industry, Dhanush was relatively unknown to the Hindi film audience when he made his debut with Rai's Raanjhanaa. In a recent interview with Mashable India, Rai revealed that casting Dhanush faced resistance due to the conventional image of heroes prevalent in the northern part of the country.
During the interview, Rai acknowledged that in 2012, the conventional hero was perceived as a 6-foot-tall, fair-skinned individual in the northern region, and Dhanush, a southern star, did not conform to this standard. Rai emphasized that Dhanush's on-screen presence and performance were exceptional, transcending the initial skepticism based on physical attributes.
While Rai did not disclose specific criticisms faced by Dhanush during the casting process, he highlighted the actor's undeniable appeal when seen in action. Rai, having collaborated with Dhanush in Atrangi Re and announcing another joint project titled Tere Ishk Mein, expressed his confidence in Dhanush's talent and the success of their collaborations.
Addressing allegations of endorsing stalking in Raanjhanaa, Rai responded to criticisms surrounding the film's portrayal of the male lead engaging in such behavior towards the female protagonist, played by Sonam Kapoor. Rai explained that the character, hailing from Varanasi, lacked awareness about the societal implications of his actions and expressed love in a manner typical to his cultural background. While acknowledging the wrongness of such actions, Rai clarified that he wasn't justifying them but rather illuminating the character's perspective.
The controversy around Raanjhanaa's portrayal of stalking had previously been raised by actors Swara Bhasker and Abhay Deol, who expressed concerns about the film potentially romanticizing such behavior. Abhay Deol, in a 2020 social media post, pointed out the regressive messaging in Bollywood where pursuing a girl until she relents is often glorified on screen.
Raanjhanaa, a romantic drama, follows the story of Kundan, the son of a Hindu pundit, who discovers that his childhood sweetheart, Zoya, is in love with a city-bred man named Akram. Despite this revelation, Kundan persistently tries to win Zoya's heart, leading to a complex narrative exploring love, sacrifice, and societal expectations.