Directed by: Ayan Mukherjee
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Kalki Koechlin, Aditya Roy Kapoor
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing
While Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani belongs into the Bollywood´s favourite category of young romance, which sustained the industry for decades and will continue to do so, the film´s resounding success at the box office and with critics has, in my opinion, more to do with maturity that the story is weaved through with as well as some truly beautiful dialogues, than with a clichéd yet forever working formula it uses. YJHD has many factors going for it, even though it is not the best movie ever (or of decade – it might be of the year if nothing better comes) – from interesting cast, catchy music numbers, as much realism as you can hope for in a commercial Bollywood movie (by which I mean you must not question a girl who goes trekking in the snow in a mini skirt) to a cuddly embrace of what is probably the best jodi of the new generation.
Three best friends – Bunny, Aditi and Avi – decide to go on a trekking trip to Manali. Joining them is Naina, a dutiful, homely, aspiring-to-be-a-doctor girl, who just feels like she needs a change for a while. She is quickly accepted by the three outgoing friends and to her great amusement and amazement she watches and later joines them in their carefree attitude and antics. Before the trip is over she falls in love with Bunny, but when she find out he is planning to leave India to study abroad, and that his dreams are to travel the whole world, she decides not to ruin the moment and keeps her first love as a cherished memory. 8 years later the four friends are reunited, all grown up. Aditi is getting married, Avi is a bar owner gone bankrupt, Naina is a doctor. Just Bunny seems to be still the same, with dreams of seeing everything and never stopping at one place. Will Naina´s old feelings be rekindled? Will Bunny feel it too? Will it stop him in his eternal hunt for something new?
As said before the plot is nothing ground-breaking or new. And there sure was no need for the stereotypical transformation of a „normal“ girl into a goddess of oomph by simply putting off glasses (at least nobody even dared to hint Naina with glasses would be „ugly“ - a blasphemy forced upon Juhi Chawla in Aaina). However the way Naina, and later also her friends think, is very mature. Matters of the heart are important, but sometimes it is necessary to not allow things happen – and just as important is to go on and not spend your life miserable and whining, because, after all, there is much to do and much to fill it with. This attitude is extremely rare in films. Naina doesn´t nurture hopes that seem futile, because she knew she would end up hurting. Aditi realizes that one-sided crush would make her miserable, and settles for a less attractive, but completely loving guy, who „makes her happy“. What a change from all the selfish wrist cutting inflicted upon us around the same time in another „romantic“ film.....
After emotions-packed Rockstar and extremely heart-touching Barfi, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani shows Ranbir Kapoor in another different kind of romantic relationship, in which he actually doesn´t know he is until the very end. He doesn´t disappoint and delivers a very good performance – something we associate him with for some time now. However it is Deepika Padukone who really comes to her own in the film. Last year she was wonderful in Cocktail, and now she confirms it was definitely not some monetary fluke of luck. She is growing as a performer right in front of our eyes! The chemistry between the two is wonderful.
Aditya Roy Kapoor doesn´t have much to do, and his character was a bit..... left out really. His drinking problem actually made me wonder if he was switching between the sets of YJHD and Aashiqui 2 and he kinda forgot in which one he was at the moment. Kalki, on the other hand, is a complete darling. There is much to relate to in all of the characters. I found a bit of myself in the shy, quiet Naina from the first half. Who wants to have fun, but it is not easy for her to just throw herself into it. It was also nice that the twist did not lie in making a homely girl the Queen of society, neither it was showing that spending your life abroad doesn´t compare to desi homeland. Both Naina and Bunny learn something, adjust themselves to it and make it part of their own personality. They grow up.
Plot may be bland but the script and direction are winners. As is gorgeous cinematography and play of colours and hues used to enhance the beauty of landscapes and clothes. Much like with his previous venture „Wake Up Sid“ Ayan Mukherjee chooses a slow, even tedious narrative, delving into the feeling of a moment rather than rushing ahead for the sake of somebody not getting bored. If you get bored, that is pretty much your problem, and Ayan is unapologetic.
I need to mention “Ghagra” - the very much hyped special song picturized on Madhuri Dixit. It was a fine song, a good dance number, Madhuri looked gorgeous and to see her with Ranbir was wonderful! It was all too much fun and I loved she also got to mouth several poetic dialogues before the music broke out. That said, Ghagra somehow doesn´t fit the rest of the film. It is brilliant as a separate video, but in the film it does not really serve any purpose and even from the way the costumes and sets look it is clear this bit was quite rushed and added at the last minute. But whatever. I was happy to see Madhuri dance – and thankfully Ghagra turned out quite progressive – as a song in which a younger guy is attracted to and charmed to an older woman – she did not stop being attractive and charming just because she hit 40.
Beautiful actors, beautiful performances, beautiful music, simple story, Madhuri..... What´s not to love?