Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani: A fun, breezy film
Deepika Padukone has obviously never gone on a trek before. Why else would she be wearing a mini-skirt and fur boots on the Himalayas? She’s also got perfectly set, blow-dried hair during these treks, and even after a day of playing Holi during the festival of colours, which would render most of us looking like something the cat dragged in, Padukone looks radiant. But that is the world she and other characters in Ayan Mukerji’s “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” inhabit.
These are pretty people falling in love, travelling to picturesque locations, having epiphanies while attending expensive destination weddings and following all the clichés Bollywood loves to propagate. And yet, you cannot help smiling as you leave the cinema hall.
Mukerji makes a candyfloss romance with the most unoriginal storyline ever – there are no surprises along the way. But there are tender moments, playful banter and some crackling chemistry between the two leads that overshadow the other flaws.
Ranbir Kapoor plays Bunny, the rebel full of wanderlust. Padukone is Naina, who appears to be meek at first but emerges as the stronger of the two. The characters are brought to life by Kapoor and Padukone, both of whom are excellent in their roles. Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapur play their friends, to form the film’s quartet.
The four of them go on a trek to the Himalayas, play Holi in the hill station of Manali, and indulge in what appears to be a mash-up of Bollywood films “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” and “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” before the interval.
The second half of “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” is where Kapoor and Padukone’s chemistry weaves its magic. Ayan Mukerji’s biggest achievement is he keeps the film low-key and nonchalant – even the declaration of love is done as a matter-of-fact.
Of course, Kapoor’s character has one epiphany too many — also unnecessary is the item number (I love to see Madhuri Dixit dance, but the ‘Ghagra’ song has no place in the plot). Mukerji rises above the ordinary in many places, but the film’s ending is disappointing. Without giving too much away, it seems to suggest that whatever outlandish dreams one might have, we are supposed to eventually conform to norms set by society.
That aside, Mukerji’s film is a breezy watch that will leave you applauding two actors. You might think one of them is Ranbir Kapoor, who excels in this film thanks to his author-backed role.
But no, the two best actors are Farooque Sheikh, who is brilliant in a miniscule role as Bunny’s father. And the other is Padukone, who in every scene proves she has come a long way from the awkward days of her Bollywood debut in 2007. She now looks like a million bucks and acts almost as well. Watch this film for her.
(The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)