'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' Movie Review
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'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' Movie Review

Although his debut film 'Wake up Sid' was better, Ayan Mukerji's rom-com is a fun watch

The year was 2009. This was the year when director Ayan Mukerji first came up with his surprise success 'Wake Up Sid'. To be honest, this writer was floored by Mukherjee's debut vehicle. This reaction was backed by three reasons: the nuance, the performances and the simplicity. Ranbir – almost immediately – shot up to the pinnacle of success, being considered the next superstar. Cut to almost four years later, 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' marks a return of sorts:
Ranbir returns to team up with his good friend Ayan in his second Dharma movie.
Kalki returns for what looks like another road movie after 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara'; and most importantly
Deepika returns to pair up with Ranbir after their tepid on-screen romantic adventure in 2008's semi-hit 'Bachna Ae Haseeno'.

So you have a good-looking pair, a bankable director off to make his second film, a well-known producer, a bankable support star-cast and fantastic music. The expectations are bound to bring an element of pressure toward the makers of the film. Are they met?

Set in two parts over a timespan of eight years, where one acts out as a road movie and the other a marriage drama, 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' borders on the lives of four friends who experience various emotional and psychological changes in this timespan. Meet Kabir Thapar (Ranbir Kapoor) aka Bunny. He's an outrageous flirt, a raging lover of adrenaline and an obsessive chaser of his dreams. He has two best friends: care-a-damn, angry-young-woman Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) and a compulsive drinker Avi (Aditya Roy Kapoor). Meet Naina Talwar (Deepika Padukonel). Studious, boring and bored to death of life, she needs that one big change. A chance meeting with Aditi changes it all; and she finds herself teaming up with the three in a trekking expedition, which changes their lives.

This is only Ayan Mukerji's second film, but just like his last film, it doesn't show. Of course, the trademark (semi-autobiographical?) characteristics of the main characters match some shades of 'Wake Up Sid' in some ways, but this film isn't 'Wake Up Sid'. The lead characters here, unlike his last, aren't lost and looking for hope. They're insecure and have gargantuan trust-issues they want to run far away from. Just like the trailers brought up, the viewers are presented a classily packaged, honestly written Hindi masala romance that will be genre misunderstood in many a way. Mukherjee's coherent narrative and execution is peppered with Hussain Dalal's (otherwise an actor for Indian Telly show 'Bring On The Night') relatable dialogues. Although the first 20-odd minutes of both the pre-intermission and post intermission portions are slow, one will, in retrospect, realize the character buildup was needed. Like Mukerji's 'Wake Up Sid', the movie is more character driven than story driven. While the story around the characters is simple (and somewhat predictable), the journey the characters go through – the changes, the loss et al – is made to be quite interesting. Execution of quite a few scenes are heartbreakingly relatable, and the fact that there are many such scenes peppered through make the movie stand out from the rest.

Technically, the movie is top-notch. Mukherji must have gotten a better budget at hand, and that completely shows. Cinematography by V. Manikandan is delectable and captures each frame with inherent beauty. The high-speed camerawork that complements the cinematography in the choreography of brilliantly composed songs by Pritam, show. Editing by Akiv Ali is consistent. Ali uses jump cuts to make the song sequences spicier. It is however interesting he doesn't overdo anything in a genre where post-production is used to overdo certain aspects of the film. Apart from Pritam's scintillating songs, the background score is fantastic. In many a simple scene, the background score elevates the rather restrained emotion to a new level. The songs, particularly, don't look like they're forced into the narrative. Apart from a gratuitously included and overhyped 'Ghagra' (an otherwise well-filmed fantasy), each song slips in smoothly enough.

This film would technically be a whole lot of fluff had the casting not been bang on. The charming Kapoor and Padukone scorch the screen with their chemistry (the number one rule of a romance). Apart from the chemistry, the character arcs allow the two leads to impress the viewers with their performances. While Kapoor is exhilarating as Kabir "Bunny" Thapar, Padukone is the surprise package once again, impressing one and all with her performance as Naina Talwar. Kalki Koechlin is a charmer who can steal hearts with her light-hearted performances just like she can wrench them with her darker roles. Aditya Roy Kapoor is endearing, but his role will bear similarities with the recently released 'Aashiqui 2'. Farooque Sheikh, Tanvi Azmi and Dolly Ahluwalia are a welcome addition to the support cast. Kunaal Roy Kapoor plays his character to the T without making himself look like a caricature. Others are efficient.

While the movie in itself is a really well-made product, Mukherji's shift from grounded to "Bollywood rom-com masala" would be a problem for the expectation levels of viewers who would probably look for another 'Wake Up Sid'. Although as a cinematic achievement, his debut vehicle excels in comparison, a comparison would befit itself if only he was making something as equally grounded as his debut. The promotions, however, have stated the intentions of the film loud and clear. For that itself, the movie has more than succeeded in being the film it is supposed to be: a romantic adventure with a good dose of Hindi cinema success-story additives, classily packaged and honestly told.
For lovers of romance, this is the perfect date film. For lovers of buddy movies, this is the perfect fun film. And for lovers of an overall movie experience, this is one film people shouldn't miss. Let us Hindi cinema lovers welcome one of the very few movies to have hit the bulls-eye in the first half of 2013.

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