Yeh Jawaani, Hai Deewani
Details: (PG), 139 mins, India,
Synopsis: A couple's relationship is examined at two key moments in their lives, a decade apart to consider the idea of potential, and unfulfilled promise.
Friendship drama plays to the fanbase.
Key plot elements will be instantly recognisable to fans of commercial Bollywood fare.
After a sublime starring turn in the atypical charmer Barfi!, naturally
gifted leading man Ranbir Kapoor settles into a more conventional
Bollywood romance with Yeh Jawaani, Hai Deewani.
Ayan Mukherjee’s slick, sweet tale of friendship, fun and accepting one’s mature responsibilities is never particularly profound in its observations, preferring energetic likeability and star-power over depth and realism. That said, it is a perfectly acceptable mainstream effort that has unsurprisingly played to packed houses in India since its May 31 premiere.
Key plot elements will be instantly recognisable to fans of commercial Bollywood fare. A brash twenty-something ladies man, Bunny (Kapoor), and his less reliable, blokey mate, Avi (Aditya Roy Kapoor), are heading for Manali to trek the snowy, mountainous region along with their best gal-pal, Aditi (Kalki Koechlin). Naina (Deepika Padukone) is a bespectacled, studious type, but is convinced to break free of her homebound, bookworm life and tag along when she meets Naina by coincidence the day before the trip.
The pre-intermission portion of Mukherjee’s film is a series of misadventures featuring the foursome, in which attractions are established, comedic support parts are trotted out (Evelyn Sharma’s buxom, ditzy party-girl the pick of them) and the bond the group share is solidified. The plotting is paper-thin, the proceedings given impetus by some dazzling dance numbers (English language viewers must interpret their relevance based on the visuals alone, as the print viewed by SBS had no subtitles during these scenes), some vibrant stunt work and pretty scenery.
Post-interval, our four friends are reunited after several years apart, for the occasion of Aditi’s wedding. Avi has a series of failed business ventures behind him and is growing increasingly bitter of Bunny’s success as a TV presenter of travelogue shows; Naina has found her own professional and personal space, though still lacks that adventurous spirit, preferring traditional family values over world travel. Over the course of the extravagant nuptials, truths are laid bare, and lead to lots of teary declarations of love and fierce jealousies are exposed.
Reteaming with Ranbir Kapoor after their 2009 laffer Wake Up Sid, Ayan Mukherjee exhibits a sure-hand with both the broad comedy and syrupy melodrama required of this type of safe crowdpleaser. The four-quadrant audience aims of the production are evident in its balancing of cool, modern flourishes (including Bunny’s seduction of an alabaster blonde while on assignment in Paris) and the acknowledgement of the wisdom of elders during pivotal moments in young lives (traditional ‘aunts and uncles’ feature prominently in key dramatic scenes).
The casting of Kapoor opposite his real-life ex-partner Padukone has proved not only a commercially savvy move but also adds to the strong sense of chemistry the pair share. Deepika Padukone is a warm, engaging and strikingly photogenic presence and the many scenes with her leading man unavoidably draw upon their mutual history. The day will come when they share on-screen drama with more at stake than anything in this lightweight effort, but for now this will do just nicely.
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