Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, a film that everyone I know is voraciously waiting to see, first day first show in theater. No second thoughts there. Such is the marketing prowess of Dharma Productions and Karan Johar. The message is out there and precisely succinct. Come have fun and celebrate life! Indian audience savors any such proposition to drain out any stress or wear from a week full of work or otherwise not-so-happy moments. From the first trailer to all the song promos to its release, while the message was clear, everything about the movie seemed formulaic and run of the mill, save for being glossed up. Ayan Mukerji, who gave us Wake Up Sid in 2010, seemed somehow to be succumbing to popular idiosyncrasies and campy treatments. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani plays out like another effervescent coming of the age story, and the fun never stops, but its hard to be completely generous to it, despite the camera focusing on Deepika’s eyes every now and then.
Credited with the story and screenplay of the film, Ayan Mukerji follows a similar trajectory of his hero coming into his own over the course of the movie aka chasing his dreams versus chasing the people with whom you can live the dreams. Despite an unoriginal arc to the whole film, the film benefits a lot from postcard packaging and striking performances. To put it simply, Ayan Mukerji pulls off an Imtiaz Ali, almost, but he lacks the editing Ali has in his movies. YJHD works despite its overtly long runtime of more than 150 minutes and multiple unnecessary songs and dances, mostly because of a subtle realistic feel to it. The characters travel far and wide to fall in love, shed their hangups and inhibitions to live an adventurous life, go through concocted family issues and magnanimous indian weddings, ultimately to drive home the point that one should live in the present and that there is a time for everything. Also, nurturing relationships is always more important than chasing dreams. The predictability is hackneyed and infectious, but convincing nonetheless.
Despite immaculately inhabiting the premise of a million love stories, YJHD possesses the wisecrack to make this mushy formula run well. The equation between the three friends, Ranbir, Kalki and Aditya, as it matures through its inherent ups and downs over the course of 8 years is endearing and fresh and credits to Mukerji who gives ample scope to each of their individual relationships as well. Friendship isnt forever if you dont invest in it, and every love story does not meet its happy end. Relationships dynamics change with different people having different priorities, and Mukerji smartly portrays this with much panache. The fluff and fur laces every frame with millions of endearing and misty-eyed moments but the proceedings never make you cringe as practicality is not thrown out of the window. The ending scene where all of the leads are at different places and yet together over the phone on New Year’s Eve says a bunch about the ideology Mukerji set out with. Yet, YJHD lacks the immense maturity that Wake Up Sid came with and remains another formula done well.
Produced by Dharma Productions, YJHD could not have asked for a more deft production with every screen beautifully lit up and captured by V. Manikandan and every song a chartbuster by Pritam. While my pick of the lot are Kabira and Balam Pichkari, there is definitely not a single song in the album that will not induce repeat hearings, phenomenally helped by Amitabh Bhattacharya’s quirky palpable lyrics. Not only the music, Pritam does a glorious job with the film’s background score which stands out unlike many other times. Editing by Akiv Ali is a bit tardy. Nandini Shrikent’s casting is spot on and is probably the film’s biggest asset. Production Design by Rajnish Hedao and Amrita Mahal reeks of abundant cash flow to trigger the right impact of grandeur. Apart from Mukerji’s screenplay, the film comes alive truly by Hussain Dalal’s dialogues which barely miss a note in making you smile from ear to ear. The songs are choreographed credulously down to every beat and its a treat to see the glossy revelry on screen.
Ranbir Kapoor is an actor-star, actor first. He is at a stage in his career where he can make minimal wrong choices to continue his soaring flight towards awesomeness. With YJHD, he seemed to have made that dreaded wrong choice before its release. But once you watch the movie, you cant be cantankerous towards him even if you wish to because he just goes that extra mile for an slippery script too. Pouring his sweat out into every single dance move to being the carefree traveller cum flirt to being the lost soul towards the second half, his screen presence is cartoonishly charming and stunningly overruling. Deepika Padukone continues to grow as an actress and as a monument of sheer adulation for her beauty, well, I did have to say that, didnt I?. As Naina, she brings the right transition in the character over the movie and matches well up with Ranbir. Yet, she needs to break out from love stories and foray into another dimension, almost intentionally now. Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapoor are brilliantly cast for their parts as they lift the film from its mediocre script. Kalki does well to be funky as well as mature, and Aditya strikes the right note as the friend who somewhere lost track. Dolly Ahluwalia, Kunal Roy Kapoor and Tanvi Azmi make assured cameos but it is legendary actor Farooque Sheikh who robs the limelight in just two scenes.
On the whole, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a cheerful affair that will bring a lot of happiness to you this weekend. The film has opened big and with the astounding buzz enveloping it, it is bound to rake in numbers. It is not clunky or unrealistic, yet it is nothing out of the box and takes you back well in time to Karan Johar style romance. Mukerji proves that he can handle the ordinary with a nuance too. And Ranbir proves that though this may not take him to the next level, it doesnt hurt his career graph. But I would have expected a lot more from this filmmaker. Watch it for the sizzling performances and some more life gyaan, all told with much fun!
Rating – 2.5/5