Take the biggest romance of Bollywood Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Add a spattering of Hum Tum, Bachna Ae Haseeno and Love Aaj Kal. And, stir in a dollop of Dil Chahta Hai, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, 3 Idiots or just any romantic comedy that has graced the Indian screens for that matter and here’s what you get—a half-baked, too long film called Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
Director Ayan Mukherjee, whose debut film Wake Up! Sid was hugely successful, is back with a ‘new-age’ story on love, friendship, ambition and commitment. And, a whole lot of other things, too, that at some point the viewer is left wondering what was it exactly that Mukherjee had in mind when he sat down to write this film.
It is a regular boy-meets-girl, opposites-attract love story, with Ranbir Kapoor playing Kabir aka Bunny, the happy-go-lucky boy and Deepika Padukone appearing as Naina, the geek-turned-hot babe. Obviously, the boy is impulsive, a dreamer and doesn’t want to be tied down by commitments. He justifies this by the oft-repeated excuse—who wants to get stuck eating dal-chawal everyday for the next 50 years! And, the girl is traditional, pragmatic and wants a ‘normal’ life and has marriage on her mind. It is, however, a welcome change that Kapoor’s Bunny is not just another young Bollywood hero who is clueless about where his life is headed. He knows exactly what he wants from life—pagalpan [craziness] and raftar [speed], he tells Naina.
The first half of the film follows four friends, Bunny, Naina, Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) and Avi (Aditya Roy Kapoor), on a trip to Manali. While Bunny, Avi and Aditi are the ‘fun’ types, Naina is the geek of the group who has not done anything the other characters accept as ‘cool’. This includes watching porn, being kissed or getting caught by the police. She is basically looking for some fresh air in life and finally finds herself falling in love with Bunny. But the boy has big plans charted out for his future. So they all go their different ways and in the second half get together for Aditi’s wedding in Udaipur.
The first half does build up some curiosity although on many occasions you get an irritating sense of déjà vu, when the scenes and sometimes even dialogues remind you of a dozen other films. The second half is long drawn-out and doesn’t help much either.
But what works for the film are the complete Bollywood ish-tyle song-and-dance sequences. Although there are too many songs placed at all the wrong places, they give us much-needed breaks from the boring, non-existent storyline and are fun while they last. My personal favourite, however, is Balam Pichkari with its infectious energy, followed closely by Badtameez Dil. The diva of Bollywood, Madhuri Dixit (much slimmer and more than gorgeous) appears in what you could possibly call an item song and, needless to say, she is absolutely rocking.
As for the lineup of actors, Kapoor and Padukone are believable as Bunny and Naina. Aditya Roy Kapoor does try to be at par with the rest of the cast, but he should probably try a bit harder. His brother, Kunal Roy Kapoor does a good job as the dim-witted, yet large-hearted groom. But the best of the lot is Koechlin, who handles the eight-year transition the movie covers with élan. And, like every Bollywood rom-com can’t do without a dumb blonde with whom the hero flirts with, Evelyn Sharma fills in as the ‘sexy’ Lara in YJHD. It is a pity that Sharma’s Lara, a character that is hollow, sexist and completely unnecessary, gets more screen space than veteran actors Farooque Shaikh, Dolly Ahluwalia and Tanvi Azmi.
The film does not live up to the hype it managed to create, thanks to the fact that the leading pair was once the most talked about pair in B-town. At the end of the day, it was always meant to be a formula film. But with such a bunch of talented actors, it is a surprise that it is Mukherji’s script that plays spoilsport. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a big letdown, considering the last we saw of Mukherji was Wake Up! Sid and of Kapoor was Barfi!