Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

“It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it”

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani;
Pic Source: Wikipedia

Writer-Director, Ayan Mukerji has done something interesting with his second film, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (his first was the lovely coming-of-age film Wake Up Sid); he has used everything that a typical Bollywood preppy romance has and still managed to keep the film fresh and entertaining. With a predictable screenplay, he has made a film that the country is falling in love with. Partly, the credit goes to the film’s leading man, Ranbir Kapoor who is finally filling the gap left wide open by the erstwhile King of Romance, Shah Rukh Khan. A line in Ayan’s film describes the young Kapoor scion perfectly… “yeh andar se jitna kameena hai, shakal utni hi shareef hai” (he is a roguish devil with an innocent face). He is a perfect mix of talent and other star qualities, just what the Cine-Doctor prescribed for Bollywood. Coming back to the film, it works at many levels and you are able to forget about something called a new story!

Roger Ebert once said, “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it”, and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a perfect example. It is a rom-com with a story-line we have seen in many Bollywood films, especially the ones featuring Shah Rukh… heck, we have also seen similar locations and styling. But Ayan’s film shines as it has heart and you don’t mind tagging along with these good looking youngsters in gorgeous designer clothes as they discover themselves, realize their dreams and fall in love. The film looks at first-world-problems that the affluent urban youth face, which proves why the film is doing roaring business in multiplexes and even in the international markets. It offers three-hours of escape from work, studies and the other big issues like “he/she-never-called-back”… isn’t that what most people look for in entertainment? A part of me says no but a bigger part crushes that and says, “Hell YES!”

Despite all the gloss and filmy formulas, Ayan succeeds in building likable characters and creates moments with the right amount of sweetness. That’s what differentiates Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani from other cookie cutter romances. Bunny aka Kabir Thapar (Ranbir Kapoor) is an ambitious youngster who wants to see the world and has no time or inclination to settle down; geeky Naina Talwar (Deepika Padukone) discovers her inner heroine, falls in love but wants a simple, rooted life; Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) is spunky, behaves like her guy friends but is a romantic at heart; and Avi (Aditya Roy Kapoor) doesn’t want to grow up. These four take a trip of a lifetime and we just enjoy a memorable holiday with them in Manali (shot in Gulmarg, Kashmir actually) till the intermission.

What next? A wedding, of course. Designers, Manish Malhotra and Samidha Wangnoo bring out the best of Spring Summer 2013 wedding collection – their clothes worn by some of the best looking actors in Bollywood. This display of couture takes place at an equally lavish setting, the Udaivilas Palace in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Party after party, ceremony after ceremony and song after song, we proceed towards the climax. Am I complaining? Not at all! In between all this, the director manages to sneak in lovely moments about friendship, loyalty, romance and heart-break.

Songs in the film are beautifully choreographed (Remo D’Souza, Farah Khan) and well performed by the actors. Pritam’s music is good and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are catchy… watch the film and try getting “Balam Pichkari” and “Badtameez Dil” out of your head. Talking about the look of the film, full-crowd-applause for cinematographer, V Manikanandan, and Amrita Mahal Nakai with Rajnish Hedao for production design. Akiv Ali (editor) could have chopped the film a bit more, especially the serious part towards the end (ok, ok I enjoyed the song and dance much more), but it’s not an issue. The film has its flaws but I had so much fun that all those small issues can be ignored.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a fun film, it is not great cinema but is a good entertainer. I promise, you’d come out smiling from the theatre.

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu

Average is Good…

Pic: Dharma Productions; Source: Wikipedia

“Average is good”, says Riana Braganza (Kareena Kapoor) to Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan) and that line sums up the film for me. Shakun Batra’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is not a brilliantly made film, nor is it bad. It is average and average in a good way. The film manages to entertain but not delight; people wear good clothes, look good and deal with day to day issues of life, except they deal with it by getting drunk and getting married in Las Vegas!

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (EMAET) is not like What Happens in Vegas, except the getting drunk and marrying a stranger part. It is also not like 500 Days of Summer, except the day-wise narrative style (linear here though). It is also not like Jab We Met, except the full of life female lead who teaches the guy how to live… EMAET is all this strung together in an interesting screenplay (Shakun Batra, Ayesha Devitre) and a refreshing treatment for a Hindi film.

Rahul is a young architect who works in a leading firm in Las Vegas; despite staying in one of the most exciting cities in the world, he leads a dull life. Riana on the other hand likes to live life on her own terms; she is a hairstylist by profession and a serial dater. Both of them meet one day, get drunk and married. As expected, cupid strikes while they help and sort out each other… this is where the director does something different (and makes the film interesting) by taking the road less travelled.

The film’s supporting cast entertains the most… Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah and Kareena’s family members (whose names I do not know) are brilliant. I am usually not very impressed with Imran’s acting skills but he does well in this film as a tedious guy with parent issues. Kareena is good but I am surprised with how much more attention the director has showered on Imran as compared to her. Amit Trivedi’s music goes well with the film but nothing memorable. EMAET looks good, thanks to the cinematography by David Mac Donald, production design (read great looking houses and locations) by Shashank Tere and fabulous clothes by Manish Malhotra and Shiraz Siddique.

The film works on the rom-com meter and has some fun moments. It is short and crisp with under two-hours running time that keeps it from dragging. Go watch it for some light entertainment…

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

Agneepath

Outdated and unintentionally funny…

Agneepath; Dharma Productions; Source: Wikipedia

Hrithik Roshan starrer Agneepath was an unintentional funny film for me. No, I am not really a big fan of the original (1990; directed by Mukul Anand) starring Amitabh Bachchan but if we are talking remakes then the earlier version still wins. Karan Malhotra’s new Agneepath is full of plot holes and has the 80s-90s film-making sensibility that makes you cringe. I am a big fan of the original masala style of Bollywood film-making but the new Agneepath seems more outdated than the original one. Of course, the new film is also set in the 90s (1992 to be precise) but in a thriller made in 2012, one expects the filmmaker to respect the intellect of the audience. Let me list down a few gaffes to illustrate my point (spoilers ahead).

Before I do that let me share a brief synopsis for those not familiar with the plot. Agneepath is a revenge drama that begins in a tiny island near Mumbai called, Mandwa. A greedy landlord cum goon, Kaancha Cheena (Sanjay Dutt) falsely blames a conscientious school teacher and village leader, Deenanath Chauhan of rape and murder. Led by Kaancha Cheena, the village mob lynches the teacher whose pregnant wife and young son, Vijay escape to Mumbai. Years later, Vijay returns to extract revenge and to win back Mandwa. And here are some of the goofs that did not allow me to take the film seriously:

  • Inspector Gaitonde (Om Puri) makes a presentation on the gang wars in Mumbai and in the slide show, presents a photograph of an emerging young gangster, Vijay Deenanath Chauhan (played by Hrithik Roshan). Unfortunately, the picture is not the latest one but of a 12-year-old Vijay (Arish Bhiwandiwala) as they haven’t been able to get a recent photo of him (he is now shown to be 27-years old). Gaitonde goes on to describe everything about the gangster, down to his address and the charitable trust he runs. 10-minutes later, Vijay pays what-seems-like a regular visit to the inspector at the police station. But, they haven’t been able to get a picture!
  • Inspector Gaitonde in his detailed slide show also talks about Mandwa, which apparently is run by Kaancha Cheena like Hitler’s concentration camp. Really! And the Government of India sits pretty? As per him, they do not raid Mandwa as last time they tried, it led to many civilians dying in cross fire and human rights commission created a ruckus. So, now they decide to let Mandwa be.
  • In the second half, Vijay’s mother, Suhasini Chauhan (Zarina Wahab) while watching TV recognises a gangster murdered by Vijay as Surya from Mandwa. Please note when she left Mandwa, 15-years-ago, Surya was a kid and did not look anything like his grown up version. Neither did Suhasini stay in touch with folks in Mandwa who’d send her photographs (also Facebook wasn’t there in 1992). Heck, she didn’t even stay in touch with her own son!
  • After recognising Surya on TV, Suhasini for some reason goes to the police station to explain Vijay’s revenge plan to Inspector Gaitonde. Why? I don’t know. Why does she explain it to the first police man she sees (who is on pay rolls of Kaancha) I don’t know!
  • Hrithik has abs made of steel! In a fight with Kaancha, Vijay gets stabbed by at least a 12-inch long and 2-inch wide knife but after his shirt is torn (yes ladies, the abs are on display) you only see a hint of blood and lots of black soot.

Let’s leave all this aside and agree that the director wanted to make a 90s style film and didn’t care much about logic. After all Bollywood is about taking a leap of faith! Even then the film doesn’t shine much as both the build up and the climax are long and tedious (screenplay: Karan Malhotra, Ila Dutta Bedi; editing: Akiv Ali). Cinematography by Kiran Deohans is excellent but the production design lets it down. Sabu Cyril’s sets are so unbelievable that you forgive Omung Kumar’s over the top designs for Bhansali films. The fake banyan tree and Kaancha Cheena’s den look silly and well… fake! Music by Ajay-Atul is just about ok and the songs hinder the narrative (lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya). The much talked about item song, Chikni Chameli (featuring Katrina Kaif) does what it was meant to – help in film marketing and support a dragging second half. Being an action film, you’d expect some memorable stunts or fight sequences but you get none; there is just a lot of blood and gore (action: Abbas Ali Moghul).

Coming to the acting department; I think Karan Johar did well by choosing Hrithik Roshan over Abhishek Bachchan, son of the original Vijay Deenanath Chauhan. Hrithik does a good job and is believable in a local, gritty character that is cunning and opportunistic. Priyanka Chopra as Kaali is forgettable; she had a small role in Kaminey also and we remember Sweety but here you don’t connect with her, you don’t care for her. Sanjay Dutt as Kaancha Cheena is menacing and looks-wise reminds you of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort in Harry Potter. The real star of the film however is Rishi Kapoor who plays Rauf Lala, a ruthless drug lord in Mumbai. His is a new character that did not exist in the original film but leaves an impact.

Watch Agneepath if you’re a Hrithik fan and also for Rishi Kapoor.

My rating: * * * Almost three on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

Wake Up Sid

A refreshing, feel good film…

Pic: Dharma Productions; Source: planetbollywood.com
Pic: Dharma Productions; Source: planetbollywood.com

A film about a rich kid who does not know what to do with his life apart from hanging out with his friends… nothing new there! However, what makes Wake Up Sid extremely fresh and enjoyable is its treatment. You know what exactly is going to happen in the film but you are hooked to see how it happens. Take a bow, Ayan Mukerji, your directorial debut is a winner.

Wake Up Sid (written by Ayan Mukerji and Niranjan Iyenger) is far removed from the so called filmy clichés and is held together by moments that seem real and relatable; moments between a mother and her son, a father and his son, between friends and between two people who are falling in love.

The film traces the journey of Siddharth Mehra aka Sid (Ranbir Kapoor), from being a carefree college guy who simply spends his father’s money to someone who finds his true calling in life. His journey is complemented by fiercely independent, Aisha Banerjee (Konkona Sen Sharma), an aspiring writer from Kolkata who wants to make a new life in Bombay aka Mumbai.  Together both of them discover what they want in life and eventually find it.

Performance wise, everyone seems comfortable with the characters they play. Konkona is as usual fantastic but the real surprise is Ranbir who not only manages to bring alive the character but also shines amongst his excellent co-actors. Supriya Pathak as Sid’s mother who likes to speak with her son in broken English is extremely endearing.

While the film is unpretentious, one can see that a lot of attention has been paid to the details. From the styling of the lead actors (Priyanjali Lahiri and Manish Malhotra) to the production design (Amrita Mahal Nakai), everything is in accordance to the respective characters. While the music (Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy) may not be topping the charts by Dharma Productions standards, it goes well with the mood of the film and does not obstruct the narrative. Cinematography by Anil Mehta is as usual first rate. Overall, Wake Up Sid is a great feel good film and is highly recommended.

My Rating: * * * * Four stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal