A love story with Kashmir as the backdrop sounds interesting. And Mani Ratnam's well-crafted ROJA stands tall on the list: A tourist [Arvind Swamy] is kidnapped by a militant [Pankaj Kapoor], while the tourist's wife [Madhoo] runs from pillar to post to get her husband back.
Debutante director Shoojit Sircar also sets a love story in the valley. But this one is different: It talks of an army officer falling in love with a local girl. An interesting concept without doubt, as far as the premise is concerned.
But there's always a slip between the cup and the lipï¿½
ï¿½YAHAAN may be well intentioned, but it lacks the punch associated with a genre that tries to amalgamate romance with thrilling moments. The grip, so essential in a film like this, is missing here and that's its biggest undoing.
The problem with ï¿½YAHAAN is that it takes its own sweet time to come to the point. After introducing the principal characters, the story doesn't move at a brisk pace in the first hour. You've seen all this and much more -- the insurgency, the role of the armed forces, the plight of the locals in the wake of terror, et al -- in the past.
In a nutshell, it's like any other ordinary love story!
ï¿½YAHAAN is the story of an Indian Army Captain, Aman [Jimmy Shergill], who falls in love with a local girl, Adaa [Minissha], while the officer is posted in Kashmir.
The unwritten law debars women of the valley to have any relations with an outsider, but Adaa takes on the risk and faces the consequences.
Aman and Adaa decide to combat the inflexible rules and face strong opposition in the process.
To start with, director Shoojit Sircar is letdown by an uninspiring script. Sircar and his team of writers [Piyush Mishra, Somnath De, Sameer Kohli and Sircar himself] should've come up with a screenplay that would've kept the viewer on the razor's edge, but the writing is so mediocre that one keeps wondering, What really prompted the makers to choose this subject in the first place?
In the second hour, a few sequences are well penned and executed indeed, like the meeting/confrontation between Yashpal Sharma and Jimmy Shergill. A few twists and turns in the post-interval portions also catch you by surprise. But sequences such as these are few and far between.
However, the portions that depict Minissha running from pillar to post to safeguard Jimmy's life and reputation remind you so much of ROJA. The climax, when Minissha approaches the television channel to prove Jimmy's innocence, looks completely far-fetched and is difficult to absorb. Ditto for her speech, which is very melodramatic. Besides, placing the speakers outside the mosque so that the terrorist [Yashpal Sharma] has a change of heart, appears formulaic and filmy.
As a storyteller, one fails to understand why Sircar chose to narrate the story with a hand-held camera [cinematography: Jakob Ihre]. The frames are shaky all the time, which can get quite distracting for the viewer. It also leaves you with a feeling that you're watching a documentary. Even the blue tint throughout the film takes the sheen away from the enterprise.
Where ROJA scored and where ï¿½YAHAAN falters, besides a taut screenplay, is in its music [Shantanu Moitra]. Barring a soft number, 'Pooche Jo Koi', the film lacks a melodious score to compliment the love story. Dialogues [Piyush Mishra] are natural at times, but routine/run-of-the-mill at most places.
ï¿½YAHAAN rests on Jimmy Shergill's shoulders and the efficient actor enacts his part with utmost conviction. The actor delivers a commendable performance all through. Newcomer Minissha is awkward at places, but quite confident at times. Overall, a decent debut.
Mukesh Tiwari and Yashpal Sharma are alright. The actors playing the roles of Minissha's father and grandmother [Dolly Ahluwalia] stand out with convincing portrayals.
On the whole, ï¿½YAHAAN could've been a riveting saga, but turns out to be a bland product. At the box-office, ï¿½YAHAAN has limited prospects.