Mani Ratnam. The name itself is enough to generate tremendous curiosity and excitement for a film. So, as the lights go off in a cinema hall and the titles roll, you expect nothing short of a masterpiece from a master film-maker.
Unfortunately, YUVA is high on hype, but low on substance. Or, let's just say, naam bade aur darshan chhote.
Coming from the maker of classics like NAYAKAN, ROJA and BOMBAY, his latest offering is a complete letdown. It simply fails to connect with the viewer!
YUVA tells the story of three youngsters -- Michael [Ajay Devgan], Arjun [Vivek Oberoi] and Lallan [Abhishek Bachchan].
Michael is a student-politician, who dreams of cleansing the corrupt political system some day. Arjun is a student as well, who nurses a desire of settling down in the U.S. Lallan is a ruffian, who works for another hooligan [Sonu Sood], who in turn is a henchman of the corrupt politician [Om Puri].
The three youngsters, completely unaware of each other's existence, cross path one day. And suddenly life undergoes a change...
Loosely based on Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Oscar-nominated Spanish film AMORES PERROS, YUVA is divided into three chapters. But, sadly, none of the chapters hardly make an impact!
Mani Ratnam is an accomplished storyteller, but he seems to have got confused this time around. He has opted for a theme which not many would take a fancy to -- politics -- since the issue has been beaten to death by several makers in the past.
Nonetheless, rehashing a story is pardonable, since every maker has his way of interpreting a tale. But what makes matters worse is that Mani's storytelling lacks the hammer strong impact that this genre demands. In fact, the stamp of a genius is sorely missing in the film, even though the film does boast of some fine performances. But can the best of performances camouflage the harm inflicted by a weak screenplay? Never!
The film has loopholes aplenty. To start with, the film has been treated in an episodic fashion; the first 30-35 minutes focus on Abhishek and Rani's story. Then Ajay and Esha's track takes over, followed by Vivek and Kareena's portions And then politics and politicians take precedence.
The film moves at such a lethargic and leisurely pace that you start getting restless even before the first segment [Abhishek-Rani] wraps up.
Another drawback is that barring Abhishek and Rani's track, which at least has some interesting moments, the other two stories are dull and drab. And the latter reels, when the dirty political games are unveiled, the film falls into an altogether new low.
Even the finale leaves the viewer with the feeling of complete discontent and disapproval. There should've been a proper culmination to Abhishek's character. Similarly, Ajay and Vivek winning the elections don't make you jump with joy either.
Director Mani Ratnam fails completely in keeping the viewer's interest alive. The film banks too heavily on the student politics, which may not find flavour with a majority of the audience. Such topics hardly interest the viewers of today, also because the viewer tilts more towards escapist cinema. Not only is Mani's choice of the subject debatable, even his treatment is not as expected.
Frankly, Mani is letdown by the script of the film. The film tries to strike a balance between realism and make-believe, but falls flat from tip to toe. Neither does the student politics appeal, nor does the saccharine-sweet romance between Vivek and Kareena make your heart beat faster. In fact, the romantic track of Vivek and Kareena is devoid of any excitement whatsoever.
A.R. Rahman's music is a mixed bag. While 'Ae Khuda' and 'Fanaa' are hummable [both are well shot], the remaining tracks are just about okay. Cinematography [Ravi Chandran] is first-rate. The stunts are fantastic, especially the climax fight on a busy road.
YUVA clearly belongs to Abhishek Bachchan, who delivers his best performance so far. Playing a crude, lower middle class ruffian is no child's play, but Abhishek has handled it with amazing confidence. This performance surely merits an award!
Vivek Oberoi may have looked uncomfortable in his last few films, but he is back in his element this time. He comes up with a natural performance. Ajay Devgan doesn't come across as strongly as the other two actors. He's just about okay.
Amongst the leading ladies, it is Rani Mukerji who is the best of the lot. The role demanded an actress of substance and Rani more than lives up to the expectations. Kareena is highly competent, despite a half-baked character. Also, she looks gorgeous throughout, despite minimal make up. Esha Deol justifies her part, but her role doesn't demand histrionics either.
Om Puri enacts the corrupt politician part with conviction. Sonu Sood is okay. Anant Nag is fair. Saurabh Shukla and Vijay Raaz are adequate.
On the whole, YUVA disappoints big time. At the box-office, the film will neither appeal to connoisseurs of meaningful cinema, nor strike a chord with the hardcore masses. Its business may be better at multiplexes, thanks to the hype surrounding the film, but its fall is inevitable.