Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Yuvvraaj: A brilliant score let down by a lacklustre script
Setting out to create a Bollywood blockbuster? Just make sure you have all the right ingredients — big budget, famous actors, foreign locales, fabulous music.
Wait, something’s missing — yes, the script.
Unfortunately for Subhash Ghai, the era of formula films has long gone and even the most ambitious project can’t afford to take it easy in the writing department.
Essentially the story of three brothers, “Yuvvraaj” revolves around the free-for-all that ensues when a London-based billionaire dies, leaving behind his fortune to autistic son Gyanesh Yuvvraaj (Anil Kapoor).
It’s a bitter blow for estranged sibling Deven (Salman Khan), who has been struggling to make ends meet as a chorus singer in a Prague orchestra. He also needs the moolah to impress sweetheart Anushka’s (Katrina Kaif) wealthy father who is not too happy about their relationship.
And so Deven trudges back to the Yuvvraaj family’s London mansion, from where he had been kicked out twelve years earlier. He finds it infested with his dead mother’s relatives, all eyeing a share in the family property.
Youngest brother Danish (Zayed Khan) is a reckless youngster, spending more time in casinos and clubs, coming to his senses only when his debts mount.
So while simpleton Gyanesh whiles away time throwing footballs in the living room, Deven and Danish become partners-in-crime, thinking of ways to wrest his riches. But will blood ties prove stronger than the lure of money?
By a happy coincidence, Gyanesh turns out to be a musical genius and is just the kind of singer cellist Anushka wants for her orchestra’s concert in Austria.
As “Yuvvraaj” moved inexorably towards its predictable climax, I couldn’t help but marvel at the exquisite vistas and grandiose concert halls of Prague and Austria — certainly more interesting than anything the film’s insipid dialogues could offer.
Not that the acting is impressive.
Both Salman and Zayed overact. Katrina Kaif pouts, dances and blithely plays the cello. As for Anil Kapoor, he does have his moments as the autistic savant but is still no match for Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 Hollywood film “Rain Man”. And the supporting characters end up as mere caricatures.
So is “Yuvvraaj” that bad? Well, if it were not for A R Rahman’s music, I would say yes.
Rahman breathes life into an otherwise tedious film, paving the way for a dazzling array of orchestra sequences inspired by Indian and Western classical music.
It’s perhaps the maestro’s best work since “Taal” in 1999, which was also a Subhash Ghai musical.
But “Yuvvraaj” falls way short of the symphony created for it and even the masked revellers and flamenco dancers that mysteriously appear in many a dance sequence can’t really salvage the film.