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Front seat: Call of the wild

June 09, 2013

There is no grey in this blend of merry colour. It’s the kind of kaleidoscope that bedazzles you with eye-candy, uncontrollable dance music and tongue-in-cheek, tickling humour. But while there’s no need for intellect in this genre of feel-good cinema, one does walk away wishing for a little originality.

One irresistible wild child for a hero, a bookish and bespectacled (yet perfectly proportionate) nerd for a heroine, a journey that binds four friends together and then life that pulls them apart. From fashionable cholis to chasing trains, extended weddings to unrequited love, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (YJHD) could just as well be a page out of the book of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal and many other similar love stories. What lifts it above its obvious unoriginality, however, is its cast, the fabulous soundtrack and the contemporary treatment that makes even cheesy one-liners appear fresh.

The soundtrack is the heart and soul of Kabir Thapar or Bunny’s story. It’s foot-tapping when he’s filming the beautiful Mohini (Madhuri Dixit in a guest appearance) in Ghagra via Agra, winning over the dance floor at his friend’s wedding in Dilliwaali Girlfriend or then making a star entry with the pièce de résistance, Badtameez Dil. Balam Pichkari brings out the (holi) fun of the festival of colours. One can safely predict that these four songs will make it to every mehndi soundtrack this year. Then there are soulful tracks like Kabira and Illahi that dwell on a search for identity. Subhanallah is a melodic mix of both. The soundtrack serves as an effective binder for this story of love versus ambition.

The characters are the backbone of the story, which revolves around Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor as Kabir) and Naina’s (Deepika Padukone) love story. He being the reckless champion of chasing dreams to the end of the rainbow; she being the poster child for conformation and stability. He being the “chicken tangi” to her steady diet of “daal chawal”. They come together on a college trip to Manali and then fall apart when he leaves in pursuit to see the world. Their two best friends — Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur) and Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) — figure as major influences in their life. While Ranbir dances like a dream, Deepika is very admirable in her (somewhat clichéd) role and Avi convinces as the resentful yet tender hearted underachieving friend, it’s Kalki who impresses with her characterisation of Aditi. She’s no longer the kinky Kalki we saw and forgot in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara but comes in her own as an actor worth remembering. One is motivated to revert and watch The Girl in Yellow Boots.

But from the grinning, lecherous ‘uncle’ in the train journey, Lara the Barbie doll blonde (Evelyn Sharma) to Farooq Sheikh, who makes an unexpected comeback as the gentle yet emotionally deprived father, all characters add flavour and personality to the story. They help personalise this otherwise inspired story. Even Taran (Kunaal Roy Kapoor) is the perfect, goody two-shoe fiancé. His rendition of the Ooh La La item (from The Dirty Picture) at his own wedding is priceless.

YJHD is a charming romantic comedy that leaves one smiling from beginning to end, even if the end does come an unnecessarily long three hours after its start. It is a tad bit stretched but in the cacophony of colour and coolness you hardly notice. It is also the second film directed by Ayan Mukherjee and admittedly has none of the depth or pathos of Wake Up Sid. Mukherjee, who has also worked on Swades, apparently got swamped in the cinematic style of a blue-blooded Dharma Production, allowing it to be more of a Karan Johar picture than his own.