Ayan Mukerji said in an interview that with Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani he has traveled the distance he couldn’t with his first film, Wake Up Sid. Some might say he has, in fact, taken a few steps back. Wake Up Sid, while being well crafted, had an independent spirit and an unconventional storyline for a Hindi movie.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, however, is a textbook rom-com. There are a few meet-cutes, some terrific songs and dances, lush locales, a wedding and a whole lot of anecdotal incidents stitched together with one-liners. With these ingredients you know you are in for a Karan Johar kind of movie experience – where you notice the costumes and art direction as much as you root for Naina, Bunny, Aditi and Avi.
A trek to Manali changes the lives of these four school friends, in particular that of Naina (Deepika Padukone), a studious medical student who has always excelled academically but never experienced life. Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) is the opposite of Naina. Restless, carefree, afraid of commitments and ambitious to see the world, Bunny wants to run, to fly– quite unlike Naina who looks forward to a conventional family life. Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur) and Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) are Bunny’s best friends and soon become Naina’s pals too.
In this coming of age story, the friends go on with their lives – some together, some apart, to reunite at a friend’s wedding. How has the passage of time changed them and their priorities and will nerdy Naina and adventurous Bunny finally come together is the story of Yeh Jawaani… Simple enough really.
So what works for the film? More than Mukerji’s story and screenplay, which is long at 160 minutes, it’s the relationships that engage you. You cannot take your eyes of Deepika Padukone or Ranbir Kapoor. Their chemistry is palpable and they are both smoking hot on screen. Padukone is adorable as Naina, the girl you want to take home to mother, just as much as Kapoor is the boy your mother warned you about. They are magic on screen.
Aditya Roy Kapur has an Aashiqui 2 hangover, literally, as Avi (like this Aashiqui 2 character) is seen being rather partial to the bottle too. His character is the only one that remains flat. Hats off to Mukerji for making the usually clumsy Koechlin rather convincing as Aditi. There are also a bunch of cameos – Farooque Sheikh, Rana Daggubati, Madhuri Dixit and Kunaal Roy Kapur.
Pritam’s songs are catchy and come alive with Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics and V Manikanandan’s camerawork. Balam pichkari and Badtameez dil are especially addictive and, wow, can Ranbir Kapoor dance! Some of the story tracks like the bimbo on the trek, the stepmother and a Fox Traveller travelogue are excessive and drag down a film with enough energy and fun in itself. This is bubblegum, popcorn and lip-gloss for a teenage audience. It’s the could-have-been, should-have-been for thirty-somethings. And that’s why the movie works – it makes you wish you were young again and ready to embark on life’s great adventure, hopefully with a backpack full of Manish Malhotra clothes!