The problem with watching a much awaited film late (anytime after the opening week!) is that most people in your family and friends circle have watched it and opined eloquently. This is exactly what happened with me and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.  Off we went bright and early on a weekend to watch the film. Ayan Mukerji’s directorial debut ‘Wake Up Sid’ with Ranvir Kapoor was a gem and I hoped YJHD would be even better.

Warning bells started ringing in my head the moment credits started rolling and I realized this is a produce of Dharma Productions – silly me, I had no idea! DP – for the uninitiated, is Karan Johar’s production house which, with all due respect to the (few) fun films KJ has churned out, is not in my top 20 (maybe 40!) for connection to reality or craft. Well‘Wake Up Sid’ was theirs too, whispered the inner voice and I squashed my misgivings.

The film starts nicely enough with Naina, (Deepika Padukone) sitting in a room addressing wedding invitations. Oh another big fat Indian wedding from KJ – lovely! Her hair blowing in the unseen breeze (the window being far above her head level one can’t quite fathom how this happens) Deepika is a vision – as always. Then we launch into a full blown flashback journey of 8 years ago.

Aditi (Kalki Koechlin), Bunny (Ranvir Kapoorand Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur) are best buddies from school. They decide to go for a trek to Manali during their college vacation – a fact gleefully thrown at the sensibly (read staid, boring and unattractively) dressed Naina and her typical oh-my-daughter-is-so-brilliant mother (Dolly Ahluwalia) when they accidentally meet Aditi in a supermarket. Naina is also their classmate but the bespectacled, studious sort who now studies medicine has always topped her class and does not know how to have fun. Aditi is diametrically different – a gutsy, no holds barred, punk chick always ready to take on situations head on. Bunny is an enthusiastic photographer when he isn’t charming the pants (or petticoats or pajamas!) off women. We are subjected to his superior dancing skills in the midst of a seedy brothel within the first few minutes of the film. Just for information, he was there to photograph sex workers with some international crew. Mohini (Madhuri Dixit Nene), the famous danseuse suddenly decides to break into a number and knows the exact steps to which our Bunny can shake a leg. The song ‘Ghagra’, surprisingly reminiscent of ‘Kajra re’ is nice enough to hear and watch. Avi is an alcoholic in the making and also has a gambling streak. Aditi is clearly in love with him, a fact he fails to notice in his alcoholic haze. Avi in fact thinks Aditi is a lesbian because she is tomboyish, in-your-face and not girlie at all.

So Naina, who has years of angst bottled up within because she has never done anything other than study, defies her parents and walks out of the house overnight to join the trek…….and……..walks right into a 90 minute commercial of!! Right from checking out the site online to the trip leader to prominent signs during the trek, is everywhere!  It is almost magical that Naina, despite being a Bombay girl who only sits at home and studies, is equipped with a wonderful wardrobe that can combat the sub zero temperatures on the snowy slopes of Manali (or Kashmir as it may be!) Just for information, she also found time to highlight her hair with lovely shades of red in the few hours between meeting Aditi in the supermarket and deciding to have a showdown with her parents at the dinner table.

Anyway, Bunny makes eyes at Naina and is amazed to learn she is the geek from school who has grown great legs apart from other assets! They get close; he tells her about his dreams – ably aided by a thick scrap book that he carried to the highest slopes despite the weight; helps her have fun and find herself and makes her confident enough to switch from glasses to contact lenses during the bus ride back from Manali to the plains. If you are asking why did she not do this on the mountains where you would need to wear mountaineering goggles, I have no answer!

The quartet conveniently land back to the plains on the day of Holi. And we get the newly evolved Naina is sexy white cut offs (did I not mention her versatile wardrobe?) dancing away in delighted abandon to the very catchy and much promoted ‘Balam pichkari’ with a very willing Bunny matching steps. Now wasn’t it nice that the college where Aditi studies arts and also Naina’s med school decided to have a ‘vacation’ in March so that the kids could enjoy Holi? All song, dance and daru over, Naina on the threshold of telling Bunny how she feels, Avi destroys the moment by landing up waving Bunny’s admission letter from Northwestern University, USA. The moment is gone, Bunny the charmer has decided his future, Naina the homely girl seems to have no place in it.

Through this journey are the very KJ touches of introducing ridiculously silly characters and situations. Lara (Evelyn Sharma) is one such. She lisps and simpers through the film, wears strange clothes and makes you want to slap her. And her arrival in every scene is preceded by a breathy background voice saying her name! Remember Mrs. Braganza from KKHH, Poo from KKKG and Kantaben from KHNH?

Cut to the present, it is not Naina’s wedding but Aditi’s. She has abandoned her scruffy hairstyle, skimpy shorts and Gothic eye make up for long, lustrous tresses, lovely lehengas and rosy lips (any resemblance to the transformation of Anjali – Kajol’s character in KKHH is uninteded I’m sure!). She is about to get married to Taran (Kunal Roy Kapoor) who looks and behaves like a slightly demented but good natured moose. Despite all indications to the contrary, Bunny the ace photographer and Avi the lush loser land up for the wedding. Does Naina still love Bunny? Does Aditi leave her fiancée for Avi? Those who have watched the film would know the answers to these. I doubt if there are many have not watched it yet!

Quite a few things make the film watchable….firstly the main performers. Ranvir makes every role look easy and Bunny is no exception. Deepika is ideal as Naina and you tend to believe her when she claims to be a simple girl. Kalki is impressive for the first time post Dev D as she pulls off a character that everyone would love to befriend.  Aditya Roy Kapoor is languidly charming and gives a reasonably capable performance. Secondly, the sense of absolute comfort between the lead pair. Ranvir and Deepika, either by virtue of having been involved at one time or by just being good performers, are so so in tune with each other, that their scenes, even the improbable ones, are perfectly executed. Thirdly, subtle touches of genius in the screenplay, though few and far between, that even Karan Johar could not spoil. Fourthly, Aditi and Taran’s very unlikely match that leaves you guessing. Last but most importantly, are Farooq Sheikh and Tanvi Azmi  as Bunny’s father and step-mother. Bunny’s scenes with his parents form may be one hundredth of the film, but the sensitivity with which these have been written and performed, can make you want to forget some of the idiocies in the rest of the film.

YJHD’s biggest problem is the tussle between Ayan Mukerji’s poignant sensitivity andKaran Johar’s obsession with everything OTT. Who wins….is difficult to decide. I would rate this an averagely fun one time watch. 


Copyright© Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa June 2013

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