The movie was released on December 24th, helmed by Aanand L Rai. It is produced by Bhushan Kumar, T-Series, Colour Yellow Production and Cape of Good Films. Written by Himanshu Sharma the movie features Sara Ali Khan, Dhanush and Akshay Kumar in the lead roles. It is available in Tamil and in Hindi. Pankaj Kumar did a fine job as a cinematographer.
Sara plays the role of an independent, strong-headed girl named Rinku who is funny and lively. She imagines the love story of her parents to be her own. As a child, she saw her parents burn to death in front of her eyes and the trauma haunted her so bad that she developed an illness. She is opinionated and follows her heart. She imagines a lover and keeps running from her house unaware of the fact that it’s all her imagination. Akshay Kumar plays the role of her imaginary lover Sajjad. He is a magician.
Rinku was brought up in Bihar by her grandmother and uncles who kidnap a doctor and get her forcefully married. Dhanush plays the role of her husband Vishu.
Vishu is committed to a relationship and is about to get engaged when he is forcefully married to Rinku. He is a medical student in Delhi, Tamilian in culture. The newlywed couple moves to Delhi where Dhanush learns about her illness and cures her with his love. He calls off his engagement and falls for Sara. Sara romances with both Akshay and Dhanush, confused between the two. In the end, she fights with her trauma and makes the apt choice between the two lovers.
There are instances when the movie miserably failed to hold on to the viewers’ attention and becomes nothing but a fusion of cheap re-creation of iconic scenes. Starting with the Holi scene where Sara runs to put colors on Akshay looks like the extension of the iconic Holi scene from ‘Ranjhanaa’(2013). Dhanush’s character too felt that he has walked from the set of ‘Ranjhanaa’ (2013) into this. The scene where Sara comes with Dhanush in his boy’s hostel and settles there reminds the audience of another iconic scene from ‘Kabir Singh’ (2019). Dhanush’s performance is effortless and he pulls it off really well but the character is flawed in and out. He lectures his Dean about respecting women whereas he doesn’t respect the woman he was engaged to nor he did respect Sara. Sympathy is neither love nor respect. He is so fickle-minded that a mere train journey and a few introductory conversations transform his heart and makes him fall in love with Sara. He calls off his engagement with no actual conversation with his long-time girlfriend. Rai like his other films wants to pull the element of love at the first sight but it backfired. Dhanush looks extremely immature and ‘weird’. Also, he kept making indirect fun of Sara’s illness instead of seeking some real help whereas he is a medical student.
Drawing a parallel from another romantic comedy that dealt primarily with the same mental illness schizophrenia, depression arising from childhood trauma ‘Bhool Bhulaiya’ (2007) didn’t make fun of the illness. It also starred Akshay Kumar who played the entire movie with loads of comic elements but not for an instance the suffering was glorified. In ‘Atrangi Re’ not only the suffering is glorified but it is generalized as confusion for all women in love. Also, a psychiatrist making fun of a mental disorder is not funny.
Love has the ability to transform lives and your choices bring consequences. The storyline is unconventional, emotional and innovative but the screenplay is highly flawed. Although the attention of the audience is grabbed through some catchy dialogues and Sara’s brilliant dance performance, Dhanush’s charisma but the sensibility in the plot is missing. The movie starts off really well but an important subject like mental health owes some seriousness even when it’s a comic drama.
The end could have been executed in a much better way. The twist was definitely bizarre. The soulful tracks of the movie have been composed by A.R. Rahman which probably is the only good thing about the movie.
The Hindi film industry has produced films related to mental disorders like this with elements of comedy and romance like ‘Nanhe Jaisalmer’ (2007), ‘Taare Zameen Par’ (2007), ‘Dear Zindagi’ (2016), etc., but none of them lacked the seriousness of the subject or made fun of it under the pretext of love. ‘Atrangi Re’ not only failed to deliver the message it wanted to but ends up being an overhyped movie with no actual content delivery.
‘Atrangi Re’ is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.