Dhanush, Sara Ali Khan and Akshay Kumar play the lead role in Aanand L Rai’s Atrangi Re. The film is currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar.
Movie Name: Atrangi Re
Director: Aanand L Rai
Aanand L Rai is the master of weaving simple emotions into larger-than-life-aspirational storylines. Be it the journey of the free-spirited Tanu in Tanu Weds Manu or Kundan and Zoya’s odd love story in Raanjhana, Rai has always given emotion precedence over any other element in his films. So, it comes as no surprise when he decided to experiment with a new subject and give it his unique layered treatment in his latest offering, Atrangi Re, currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar.
In Atrangi Re, Rai stays true to the title and creates characters and situations that are extremely atrangi – odd. Rinku (Sara Ali Khan) has a habit of running away from her home in search of her lover Sajjad (Akshay Kumar). She believes that he’s waiting for her and the only way to manifest his love is to elope and marry him. Nothing wrong with the idea right? But hold on, Rinky’s family has other plans. They decide to forcefully marry her off to a Tamil Brahmin Vishnu (Dhanush) to basically get rid of her and ensure she never returns.
What follows is a love triangle between Rinky-Sajjad-Vishnu, unlike anything you could imagine. And yes, imagination has a very big place in Atrangi Re’s very tricky premise. There is a massive twist that Rai brings to the table, which turns out to be a pivotal turning point in the narrative.
Atrangi Re is a risk on many accounts. For one, it pairs two veteran actors, Dhanush and Akshay, known for their acting chops, opposite Sara Ali Khan, seemingly still struggling to carve her own niche. It is not so much of a risk for Sara as it is for Akshay. He takes on a character that many A-list actors in his age group would have simply refused (and we’ve heard that a few actually did politely pass on the role.
Akshay’s Sajjad is a quirky, comical, jester, a mad man who conjures up tricks from his circus hat and changes weather with a click of his fingers. Polar opposite to him is the modest Vishnu who is unknowingly caught in a drama he never signed up for. Dhanush is perfectly cast for this part and his performance is easily the strongest point of the film. Sara Ali Khan’s Rinku seems like a part written for the actress. Very similar to her ‘namaskar darshakon’ Instagram series, Rinku too has verbal diarrhoea, a lot of spunk and seems like a time bomb waiting to explode.
Sara walks a very tight rope in trying to balance the garish over-the-top Rinku with her almost childlike vulnerability. It definitely is one of the toughest characters to crack and Sara shines in many scenes where she lets go of the pressures of being in the frame with her seniors or wanting to play to the gallery with the colourful dialogues. The only trick she needs to master as an actor is – a lot of times – less is actually more.
Rai’s screenplay has always been his biggest strength. His characters bring life to even the dullest dialogue. However, in Atrangi Re, the entire film oscillates between the three pillars – Sara, Akshay and Dhanush. It would have been interesting to see supporting characters add more flavour to the storyline. Also, scenes involving Sara’s character and how Dhanush’s Vishnu reacts to her big revelation can feel a bit misconstrued. Watch the film to know why we say so.
Love is the common thread that binds these three characters, but there are several moments where logic and reason are tossed out of the premise for the benefit of adding some melodrama. Also, the pace of the film, especially in the second half, does test your patience immensely.
Atrangi Re is a story of love, loss, grief, trauma and how a person navigates through all this and copes with what life has to offer. The film doesn’t present a linear or singular point of view but lets the audience decide what to make of the choices these characters make in the last 20 minutes of the film. Atrangi Re is Aanand L Rai’s bravest attempt in storytelling, even braver than Zero, given the subject it deals with. It is heartening to see a director show passion about breaking new ground and experimenting with format and style, yet stick to his core belief in filmmaking. Atrangi Re deserves a watch for attempting something new. It is risky but also a welcome step in the right direction. Don’t hesitate to embrace the new.