YJHD is Ayan Mukerji’s second feature about five years after the release of the much loved and widely acclaimed ‘Wake up Sid’. Some would be of the clear opinion that he set himself a target too high to touch with a debut of that quality. Wake up Sid was a unique, touching and perfectly casted story of a college student who finds his way in life, played so memorably by Ranbir Kapoor. Now the question arises, where does that intelligence and deep understanding go with a film like YJHD? Well I think it goes on a life changing roadtrip.
To start with the positive, the stars out here come to the rescue of the overused plot which appears to be a jigsaw puzzle with each piece taken from a Bolly favorite or even a cult classic. Kalki does a great job in each an every one of her scenes. Ranbir’s acting has this ease about itself and a sparkling chemistry with Deepika who’s work deserves a great deal of attention as well.
Farooq Shiekh throws a touching and heart warming performance at you which could be the most memorable and real-ly touching scenes of the film. Aditya Roy Kapoor is fantastic throughout the film. In short, every lead character does their job ever so well, and sometimes, you may feel, they bring more to the film than the Plot. At times, it seems, Ayan clearly attempts to move off from the Bollywood cliche. But how can you escape that, totally, with a script like this? But anyway, sticking to the positives, the resolution worked out well. But it was the process where our road trip hit the most speed breaks, pot holes and the like. Usual for a Dharma Production, the frames have a feeling of ‘overdone’ yet a large perception of the word ‘grand’ that never fail to create pleasure-to-watch visuals. Some of the dialogues get you laughing, mostly by Aditya and Ranbir but Kalki pulls off some good ones too.
In the first half, it felt like the Director was dying to squeeze in a song, despite the overload later, before we even know more than three or four things about a lead character, Ranbir. If you walked in a little late, you might feel that you missed around a few minutes shy of half an hour but no, the first song arrives sooner than what you are prepared for. There is no point of thinking about the necessity of the song, but in some sense, it tried to depict the character. Yes, a journalist. I am sure you guessed by watching the song and the dance which coincided with another three songs adding up to be the ONLY visual information the TV watchers had about the film, sometime before the release. There was nothing about the film or what actually the film is about. All we saw, the songs. Its not a question about when a song is necessary to be slotted in, not in India, but when a song is out there for you so so soon, necessity will eventually become a question. Moving on, The intended humor (apart from the dialogues) very rarely works. It often appears childish, forced and immensely predictable. Especially one sequence, when the four are in Manali, you get the feeling of ‘how many times have we seen this’ so hard that you might just be able to force a small bit of laughter with utmost difficulty. Some scenes brought me too strugglingly back to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Swades, Jab We Met, Hum Tum, DDLJ, and Kuch Kuch Hota Hain. Not that there was any sense of imitation, but it just emotionally transported me there. How could I forget the ‘railway’ scene where the Bollywood Hero gets into the train and lets his hand out to the Heroine who catches his hand and gets on despite the train beginning to move fast. But it doesn’t happen at the end of the film. Ayan makes Deepika rethink her decision about getting on the train and going for the trip the second the train starts moving. Which is actually pretty much fine but this sequence was used so often in Hindi cinema that everyone knows it by heart and now it felt like Ayan also made it a part of his staple diet. What differs? The year. We are in 2013. Anyway, other than the stars, if anything else rescued the film was the second half, which was better. There was more of activity and less of aimless talking, there were matters being sorted out, comedy worked better while also plunging in that needed amount of seriousness, shyly pestering the characters to arc and also, the cliche’s begin to flee in a gradual manner. But as I said, with a script like this, it is extremely difficult to flee away completely from the cliches. But out here, in half two, there is a better effort. If you are expecting a Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara which was the most recent , brilliantly crafted, fantastically written and superbly directed by Zoya Akhtar (Most recent out of all the names above) then YJHD is just a bad excuse for an attempt to create something ‘of the sort’ despite of having many coinciding sensibilities and similarities in scenes which couldn’t help but make you think about the equivalents from ZNMD which leave no space for survival for the ones from this film. Speaking of the best examples of ‘Coming of age’ cinema, ZNMD finds itself in the top 3 with ease in recent Bollywood years.
Overall, there is nothing extraordinary about the newness inside the overused ideas and plot to make it. But the cast, each and every member can somehow earn themselves your one time watch. But if you are looking for something different, this is not the film for you. If the film tries to fit itself under the ‘coming of age’ romantic/comedy/friendship movie section, then it should be ‘coming of age’ in every department. Not when you feel Ranbir has a cool DSLR, Handicam, Laptop and other stuff suggesting this title but yet the scenes, treatment and the feel of it takes you back to the 90s and to those scenes that any audience member from the theatre can stand up and say ‘Hey I know what happens now. Because I have seen this already’. If you have your expectations touching the sky like I had after watching Wake up Sid , it is hard to say that this would not disappoint you and your expectations. Ayan Mukerji brought so much to Wake up Sid. There was so much of an aim there, a lot of intelligence was needed to craft a character like that to wind you around in a story so gently. It was something so different at that time. But where does it all go now? It all goes for a life changing road trip with Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. We do hope Ayan comes back with what one can just hope he does.
I give the film, 2 out of 5 stars.