Film Review: 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani'
Opened: 31 May 2013Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Kalki Koechlin, Aditya Roy Kapur, Evelyn Sharma, Farooque Shaikh, Dolly Ahluwalia, Kunal Roy Kapur.
Director: Ayan Mukerji
Producer: Dharma Productions/Karan Johar
Let's face it. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was never meant to be a ground-breaking film. It comes from a production house that's perfected the art of making larger than life films, set against lavish backdrops, and mastered the art of mush. So in that sense Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani throws no surprises. But Ayan Mukerji is smart enough to know what his forte is and despite being backed by a producer like Karan Johar, whom he gives several nods to in the film, he's embellished the film with his own unique touches and that's where the film scores.
The yarn begins with Naina Talwar (Padukone), who's preparing for a wedding while reminiscing about her past. A past that changed her life and ultimately made her come into her own.
She goes back in time when she was young, reserved, studious, geeky almost – the kinda girl that you take home to meet your folks. On a sudden rebellious whim she decides on a road trip to Manali where she bonds with three friends who have little in common with her – Avi (Kapur), Aditi (Koechlin) and the boy she ultimately falls head over heels in love with – Kabir aka Bunny (Kapoor). He's a young, boisterous, rebellious drifter and a commitment phobe. Everything she isn't. And yet they're inexplicably drawn to one another. Naina however keeps mum and never reveals how she feels about him, and attempts to move on. Cut to present day, and they all meet in very different circumstances, with their own problems and grievances. How the flames of friendship and love are rekindled from there on forms the crux of the story.
At face value, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani abounds with clichés. You know from the word go, where the story is headed, and there are moments in the second half which could have easily been snipped – like Aditi's wedding, during which there are a few cringe worthy comedy scenes all in the name of keeping within commercial parameters. One can tell that Mukerji is clearly uncomfortable with handling larger than life situations, like the dance sequences in the second half, or the run in with local goons in Manali. Where Mukerji scores, however, is in the individual, one on one tender moments – when characters interact with each other, and the subtle nuances he brings in their relationships with one another. Essentially, when Mukerji is being himself, the film flies, it's when he's emulating his mentor Johar, who's much better at handling larger than life situations, that the director falls completely flat.
Undoubtedly, the film benefits from an enormously talented cast too, each of who raise the bar of an otherwise clichéd story several notches higher. Aditya Roy Kapur is good in some scenes, but appears fake in others; Kalki Koechlin is magnificent and gets ample scope to shine in a film that doesn't entirely belong to her. Madhuri Dixit, in a dance number is still matchless and completely effortless and can give the plastic brigade a lesson or two in expressions and how to be passionate about one's craft. Ranbir Kapoor is a born superstar. The ease with which he emotes proves that he's a true blood Kapoor and was born to do nothing but act. Even when you really want to despise his character, you can't because even then the actor manages to justify his character's actions – selfish or otherwise. But the star of the show undoubtedly is Deepika Padukone. If you compare her with her earlier film with Kapoor, Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), in which she was stiff and uncomfortable, to now, you'll see the phenomenal growth in the actress within her. She brings a fresh-faced innocence in the earlier portions and an unbridled confidence in the latter half of the film, which makes you root for her character right till the end. And special mention must be made of her chemistry with ex beau Kapoor too, which simply put is nothing short of electric.
Unsurprisingly, technically the film smacks of finesse, with utmost detail given to almost every element on screen. Pritam too hits a home run with the peppy music, which comes alive on screen, but then you'd expect nothing less from a Karan Johar production.
I'm going with four stars for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. It's been a while since we had so much old-fashioned fun at the movies. Bollywood has always been about formulaic escapism, let's stick to what we're good at, and leave the grim reality of day-to-day life and special effects to our western counterparts.