Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Aditya Roy Kapur, Kalki Koechlin, Farooq Shaikh
Director: Ayan Mukherji
It’s been a few minutes since I stepped out of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, and I’m finding it hard to remember what I’ve just seen. This is not the sort of amnesia that you have to force yourself into after a bad, blah film. This is because I’ve seen this brand new film, and its characters so many, many times before. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a been-here, seen-this, much-too-long glossy creature, and not much else.
Ranbir Kapoor plays the I-want-to-fly fellow who doesn’t want to be tied down. Familiar? Oh yeah, we’ve seen a hundred variations of Bunny aka Kabir Thapar. Deepika Padukone is Naina, the proverbial girl in the glasses, always with her nose buried in a book, always driven to doing the right thing. Seen that before? So when Bunny and Naina meet and bicker and get intense and part, we know where this is headed. Which we are ready for, because that’s what romantic comedies are about. But the thing with the best rom-coms is how the oldest story in the world — boy meets girl, and they live happily ever after — gets a fresh telling. On that crucial test, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani scores low.
The supporting parts, essayed by Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapur, her as the cool chick who then does the conventional thing like saying yes to an arranged marriage, and him as the hero’s best buddy who turns hostile for no convincing reason, are also cobbled from bits and pieces. Because it is a Karan Johar production, we get the big fat Indian wedding, the geet and the sangeet and the whole zardozi, lehnga, mehndi, shebang, in multifarious doses. We also get Madhuri Dixit as Item Girl, and she blanks out as soon as she’s out of sight, too.
Ayan Mukherji had debuted in 2009 with Wake Up Sid starring Ranbir Kapoor, and that was a coming-of-age-of-urban-slacker-romance with some nuance. Here, he throws spikiness to the winds, and gives us glitter. Which is fine up to a point. Who doesn’t like to see shiny, happy people doing shiny, happy things? But then when you start wanting more, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani gets into its long length of templates and tropes. That high-on-energy Ranbir shake-shake Badtameez Dil had my foot tapping, but hey, we know he’s a good dancer. So what’s new?
The foursome gets to spend time in Manali in the first half, where they squeal and giggle and play pranks and look a little older than they should. Post interval, they are in Udaipur (Ranbir also gets to swan around pretty places in Europe and LA, so we can see what a hot shot photographer he’s become), doing the marriage thing, and the cementing-the-cracks-in-friendship thing, and the return-of-the-prodigal thing.
It is Ranbir, and a few of his climactic moments with Deepika (they begin with distressingly little going on between them), as well as a few emotive scenes with Farooq Shaikh, who plays his father, that stay with you. The Kapoor lad gets a nice matter-of-factness to loverboy self, and allows himself to be overcome when the time is right. One of these days, someone in this new-age Bollywood will make a cracking romance, and cast Ranbir as the lover, and give him something true to do. Now that will be something to watch.