When a 25-year-old director narrates the coming-of-age tale of one of his ilk, forty-plus chaps like yours truly are forced to stop and take note because specimens in the same age group exist at home!
And so it was that ‘Wake Up Sid’ went on to gain critical acclaim from the youth of the day and their families (at least some of them) for suggesting that boys will grow up sooner than later, and that they’d do so without help from their overbearing parents.
When the same director (Ayan Mukerji) returns as a 29-year-old to narrate the tale of a young man preferring to chase his dream instead of wasting away his time with his buddies from school, one expected at least a couple of dramatic twists and theatrical turns.
Sadly, Mukerji (and probably co-producer Karan Johar) appears so besotted by his lead pair’s much-hyped romance and break-up that he ends up making a movie that has “Please Get Back Together” inscribed all over it.
Five Reasons for watching YJHD:
- Obviously the crackling chemistry between Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone! They appear to be made-for-each-other on screen and on occasions brought back memories of Bollywood’s leading couple like Raj Kapoor-Nargis, Dharmendra-Hema Malini and of course Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh.
- A narrative that paces itself nicely to match the many moods of its lead characters, moving from the frothy during the pre-intermission flashbacks to the sanguine when the film shifts to real time, barring for the elaborate wedding where Karan Johar seems to have lent his unparalleled expertise to young Mukerji.
- A supporting cast that’s robust enough without ever being overpowering. The likes of Kalki Koechlin and the excellent Aditya Roy Kapur not only lend a helping hand to keep the story ticking; they also prove that length of a role is not necessarily what generates the required impact.
- The cinematography by V. Manikandan is picture-postcard perfect with the camera faithfully capturing the jaunts led by our adventure-hunting hero, who moves from mountain-to-mountain in Manali before hopping on to a global journey that takes him to several places, though the audience catches up only in France
- The song-and-dance sequences are high energy with ‘Badtameez Dil’ already proving to be an anthem for Gen-Y. Pritam seems to have managed to walk the tight rope of funky and soulful with this album. Of course, one cannot miss Karan Johar’s inimitable presence in the choreography of the songs on screen. It appears as if Mukerji has latched on to the right mentor for moving up the Bollywood ladder!
Five Reasons for Giving YJHD a Miss:
- What’s conspicuously absent is a story that requires telling. In other words, Ayan Mukerji seems to have made a movie without a script, relying excessively on his lead pair’s chemistry, their real-life romance and break-up and other such factors. It is another matter though that the formula does work for him.
- The supporting cast could have done with some more support in terms of etching out their characters slightly better. Mukerji had done pretty much the same with his supporting cast in ‘Wake Up Sid’ though he did manage then to provide some shades to senior actors Anupam Kher and Supriya Pathak. Sadly, the director simply ignores his side carriers this time.
- How many more coming-of-age movies should we expect from the Ayan-Ranbir combo? Two in two is a bit of a bore, which is why one felt that the director could have explored some of the other relationships a bit more without actually letting go of his lead pair’s involvement. In fact, he sets off to explore the uneasy calm between the successful Bunny (Ranbir) and his school chum Avinash (Aditya Roy Kapur) but gives up midway.
- The very same camera that brings out frothiness and passion brilliantly also ends up playing spoilsport for most of the second half by focusing on the opulence of a wedding and distracting the viewer interplay of emotions between the characters. An excellent scene where Naina (Deepika) confesses to being in love with Bunny for the second time is stymied by the magnificence of the Udaipur Palace.
- The movie is a tad long to last without any semblance of a script and towards the end things tend to drag on as the lead couple attempt to understand each other’s feelings while fighting their own fears. While Ranbir and Deepika keep the fire crackling, director Ayan appears to have dozed off somewhere post intermission.
My Verdict: A one-time watch, if only to convince oneself that Ayan Mukerji can handle Bollywood’s formula fare with equal ease as his mature debut. A bit more focus on the supporting cast and some purposeful sniping with the scissors and we’d have had yet another memorable movie from a director who’s definitely destined for greater box office glory.[?]