The movie begins with the marriage of John (Arya) and Regina (Nayantara) at a church. The marriage is an arranged one, to which both have consented reluctantly to make their parents happy. After the marriage they live together as strangers in an apartment, where the neighbors are upset with John who comes home drunk every night, which he does deliberately to annoy Regina. Eventually, Regina applies for a transfer to Australia to stay away from John.
One night, Regina falls down with fits. John calls an ambulance and takes Regina to the hospital, where he is unable to respond to the doctor's queries about Regina's age and past medical history. When he goes to apologize to the doctor later on, he is told that it is important to know about his wife's health, even if he dislikes her. John then asks Regina about her health and she reveals she had fits twice in the past. The movie now goes into flashback mode as she explains her past and the love of her life, Surya (Jai).
While in college, she falls in love with Surya, who works in the call center of a mobile company. Surya gets selected for airline cabin-crew training in the US. They decide to inform their parents about their love but his father objects to their relationship and hence they decide to get married without informing their parents. On the designated day, Surya fails to show up at the Registrar's office for the wedding. Regina's father James (Sathyaraj) feels sorry his daughter and takes Regina to Surya's house, where they learn that Surya has already left for the US. A few days later Regina gets a call from Aiyappan (Sathyan Sivakumar), Surya's friend, saying Surya had committed suicide in the US. In her shock she suffers fits for the first time.
Upon hearing this story, John begins to like Regina and he now has immense respect for her. Regina however continues to treat John with scant respect until one day when Sarathy (Santhanam) comes to their flat and reveals John's past in the second major flashback of the movie. John had fallen in love with Keerthana (Nazriya Nazim), an orphan, and they eventually get married. On the first day after their marriage, Keerthana is hit by a car while crossing the road, and she dies in front of John.
Regina now begins to like John. Though they like each other, they never reveal it to each other. Finally, on John's birthday, Regina gives John a gift and insists that he opens it alone, but John never opens the gift as he thinks that Regina is only pretending to be affectionate in front of her father.
Regina's request for the transfer to Australia is approved. When she tells John while he was having a beer that she bought for him, he asks her to go ahead with her plans, as he thinks that she was trying to bribe him with the beer to get him to agree to a divorce, while she actually wanted him to express his love for her.
John drops off Regina at the airport. When he is about to leave the airport, he gets a call from Regina, who tells him that she saw Surya at the immigration counter. John rushes off to meet Surya and tries to get him to accept Regina. Surya says that he was forced to leave by his father, that he faked his suicide so that Regina would get over him. Surya says that he is now happily married and tells John that one cannot always marry the girl he loves, but should always love the girl he marries. As he leaves, he glances at the ring in his hand, which was gifted to him by Regina, showing that Surya will always live with the memories of their relationship.
Regina, who is terribly angry, slaps John as she never wanted to get back with Surya, as that was the past. Regina throws the gift that John never opened. When he opens it he finds the words "Let us begin our life". John and Regina realize their love for each other and begin their life together.Arya as John, Lover of Keerthana and Husband of Regina
Jai as Surya Muthuraman, Lover of Regina
Nayantara as Regina, Lover of Surya and Wife of John
Nazriya Nazim as Keerthana, Lover of John
Sathyaraj as James (Regina's father)
Santhanam as Sarathy (John's friend)
Sathyan as Aiyappan (Surya's workmate/friend)
Manobala as Ramamoorthy, the CEO of AirVoice
Rajendran as Henry
Dhanya Balakrishna as Nivetha (Regina's college friend)
Misha Ghoshal as Madhu (Regina's workmate/friend)
Arunraja kamaraj as John's friend
Singamuthu as Sarathy's uncle
Swaminathan as Flat secretary
T. M. Karthik as Booshan
Gaana Bala in a special appearance
Atlee Kumar, an assistant director to Shankar, narrated his script to Murugadoss in early 2012 who agreed to finance the film. Atlee revealed he wrote the script with Arya in mind to portray the lead role, and was insistent on signing Nayantara as the female lead as he felt they made a good on-screen pair. Atlee had initially selected Sivakarthikeyan to portray a role in the film, but subsequently chose Jai to appear as Nayanthara's love interest in a flashback segment. Priya Anand was considered another leading role, but the opportunity was later offered to Nazriya Nazim who had made her debut with Neram (2013) in Tamil films. Sathyaraj, Santhanam and Sathyan were also signed to play other supporting roles in the film. The film has music by G. V. Prakash Kumar, art direction by T. Muthuraj and cinematography by debutant George C. Williams, a former associate of Nirav Shah.
"At my age I thought I should give a nice love story; we hear many love stories so I thought mine should be unique and came up with a husband and wife story. Since the best onscreen pair in Tamil at present is Arya and Nayantara, I narrated it to them"
The film began its first schedule at a bungalow in Greams road, Chennai. Kamal Haasan switched on the camera and a song picturizing Jai and Nayanthara was canned on the occasion. The sequence involving Jai and Nayantara were canned first and Arya joined the team after completing his work on Irandam Ulagam.
Critics have noted that the film draws similarities to Mani Ratnam's Mouna Ragam and the Kannada film Milana.
The soundtrack album for Raja Rani was composed by G. V. Prakash Kumar. The lyrics were penned by Na. Muthukumar, Pa. Vijay and Gaana Bala. The single, "Hey Baby" was released on 19 August 2013. The complete album was released on 23 August 2013 at Sathyam Cinemas, Chennai. The audio was released by actors Jiiva and Arya.
Behindwoods rated the album 3.25 out of 5, and said "G.V strikes with lively & cheerful melodies. A very pleasant album !" IndiaGlitz rated it 2.5 out of 5 and said, "GV Prakash keeps his promise". Cinemalead.com rated the album with 3.5 out of 5 stars and said the album is Innovative, Interesting and Intriguing
A first official film teaser showing the lead pair quarrelling through their projections in a mirror, was released on 11 May by Fox Star Studios. The teaser went instantly viral garnering a large number of views. The film was given a "U" certificate by the Indian Censor Board. This film released in many theatres across the USA especially Towne 3 cinemas in San Jose. It was a blockbuster in Tamil, did decent business in Telugu and U.S.A market.
The official trailer was released along with the music album in a very innovative manner on 23 August 2013. The trailer was released on YouTube earlier in the day and was simultaneously telecast across 12 television channels at 7 PM. The trailer received positive response. The satellite rights of the film were sold to STAR Vijay.
Raja Rani received generally positive reviews from critics. Rediff rated it 3/5 and stated, "Debutant director Atlee's 'Raja Rani' is a simple refreshing tale about how to cope with life, when we lose someone we love. The film has a lot going for it and definitely succeeds in entertaining the audience." Behindwoods rated it 3/5 and stated "The movie's running time is 2 hours 45 minutes and there are moments in the second half leading to the finale which sag. The end product could have been much tauter. To sum up, though the second half of Raja Rani moves along predictable lines, it's still a promising debut by Atlee". The Times of India gave 3 stars out of 5 and wrote "The film does leave you exhausted by the time it ends. Still, it remains always watchable, mainly because the director, like his mentor Shankar, embraces his old school storytelling methods with conviction".
Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu cited "Atlee’s promising debut Raja Rani merits a watch in spite of its fundamentally flawed structure". IndiaGlitz said, "One look at the movie and there might be suspicions of Atlee as a debutant, he gives away a clean family entertainer with no hoopla's. There are two other major contributing factors. George C. Williams's enchanting cinematography giving a bouncing color to the film, and flows with freshness. And the other is GV's music, if the songs are chartbusters, then the BGM is another success story. They flow well with the scenes right from the start to the end, way to go team."
In contrast, Gautaman Bhaskaran of Hindustan Times rated it 2 stars and said, "At a little over 150 minutes, Raja Rani is a bumpy ride with potholes of songs, with characters who are nothing better than caricatures and with a romance that hardly engages". Sify too gave an unfavourable review stating, "Debutant director Atlee's highly hyped Raja Rani starts off promisingly and keeps us engaged in the first half. But post-interval it loses steam, and turns out to be a cheesy, emotionally manipulative drama with a predictable long drawn out climax that goes on and on for 35 minutes".
The film released in 350 screens in Tamil Nadu. It earned approximately ₹ 32 million on its first day, which was said to be Arya's best ever opening, and had collected an opening weekend collection of ₹ 122 million in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The total collections from overseas market after the opening weekend were estimated at around ₹ 50 million. Raja Rani eventually emerged a huge success after earning over ₹500 million (US$7.8 million) from the South Indian box office within four weeks. The Telugu dubbed version too was a success grossing ₹40 million (US$620,000) on its opening weekend and ₹120 million (US$1.9 million) in its lifetime. The film thus emerged as the third blockbuster in Arya's career after Arinthum Ariyamalum and Boss Engira Bhaskaran as well as the fifth most successful film of the year.
The Telugu dubbed version is also titled as Raja Rani and was released on March 14, 2014. It was remade in Oriya as Tu Je Sei starring Babushan. It was also remade in Bengali as Shudhu Tomari Jonyo in 2015, with Dev reprising Arya's role, Srabanti Chatterjee reprising Nayantara's role, Soham Chakraborty reprising Jai's role and Mimi Chakraborty reprising Nazriya Nazim's role.