By Subhash K Jha
Film: Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Stars: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin
Director: Ayan Mukerjee
MUMBAI: If God lies in the details, then Ayan Mukerjee’s second film qualifies as a mythological.
Mukerjee lays out an elaborate languorous game-plan for a romantic liaison between two discernibly incompatible human beings who just happen to be thrown together in two very stylishly planned scenarios, shot with panoramic panache in Manali, Spain and Udaipur in a screenplay that revels in silences rather than screams.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD) is a very confident film. Outwardly it exudes the air of being a conventional boy-meets-girl saga. But scratch the surface, and out comes some refreshing mockery of what we have come to recognize as audience-capturing tactics. In a startling subversion of convention director Ayan Mukerjee very often allows his characters to seek out their own destination in a journey where unpredictability is not usually a possibility. Here, we know where Bunny and Naina’s liaison is leading. But the journey is somehow exhilarating beyond the situation.
In YJHD, Ranbir and Deepika Padukone, both in their element, are not afraid to do those things that couples in our mainstream films are generally forbidden from doing. There are lengthy exchanges of ideas and thoughts between the couple , none of its pointedly profound or even self-consciously clever, where, contrary to current rules of mainstream movie, we are invited to read between the lines.
Indeed the central romance develops with the kind of unassuming naturalness that we rarely find in our over-cooked love stories. Put plainly, the repressed Naina (Padukone) discovers she is hopelessly in love with the footloose Bunny (Kapoor). It takes some major journeys through continents and festivities before Bunny, the roguish lover-boy who dreams of traveling the world (and never mind how many hearts he breaks in the process) for Bunny to say ‘I Do’ to Naina.
Significantly, Deepika’s character seems to pay more than a passing homage to Preity Zinta in that other Karan Johar production Kal Ho Na Ho. In that film Preity throws off her chashma to, well, make a spectacle of herself in the disco song. Here Naina (gosh, the two repressed girls in the two Karan Johar productions even have the same names!) throws off the chashma for a not-too-impressively choreographed Holi song where Naina simply freaks out.
Easy does it, you want to tell her. Specially since the song-and-dance binge doesn’t really take the character anywhere she wants to go. Barring the Budtameez song, most of the music and choreography is puerile with the senseless Madhuri Dixit ‘item number’ hitting rock-bottom .In terms of inventive dance steps or even creating a compatible chemistry between two major stars from two different generations, this one sucks.
And yet at the end of every suffocatingly catchy song we somehow come up for fresh air and find the lead pair’s romance making a claim to our attention. And yes,there is the other very engaging pair played with understated sensitivity and curbed verve by Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapoor.
While Kalki introduces tender moments into her under-written parts, Roy–Kapoor plays an unanchored alcoholic individual for the second time in a month. Though there is no conventional aashiqui for this character this time around he manages to make his relationship with his buddy Ranbir look interesting and filled-out without being allotted too much space.
The Ranbir-Aditya duo has one very interesting confrontational sequence in the second-half where director Ayan Mukerjee allows the pair to let its stressful relationship play itself out without extraneous pressure. That, we soon realize , is the beauty of this film. It doesn’t seem to get anxious about the dos and don’ts of a palatable rom-com. Instead Ayan Mukerjee provides ample space for his characters to breathe and manifest their innermost secrets and insecurities without the fear of appearing less ‘cool’ than they would like the world to think.
Ranbir Kapoor ,of course, is a natural-born student of the cool-school. Though here his character and performance lack the uncut raw innocence of Ayan Mukerjee’s Wake Up Sid, Ranbir still plays a self-centred commitment-phobic with extraordinary self-assurance.
Deepika Padukone as the girl who throws off her chashma, not afraid to make a spectacle of herself (heh heh) gets into her character’s skin. She is a revelation to herself and to the audience.
The film boasts – or perhaps that is not the word to use , since unnecessary bravado is not an easily obtainable commodity here – of some well-written cameo characters played by very skilled actors like Dolly Ahluwalia, Tanve Azmi and Farouq Shaikh who inhabit Naina and Bunny’s world just long enough to let us know how disparate the world of two made-for-each-other people can be, and how desperate their need to find a mutual centre.
A ravishing rollicking romp into the realm of romance done in a rush of emotions , experience and incidents that ring true, YJHD is a delightful pilgrimage into precocity and introspection. Director Ayan Mukerjee proves Sid’s wake-up call was no false alarm. Iss baar bhi baat ‘Bunny’.