Divya Khosla Kumar is no stranger to the entertainment industry. Besides directing several videos, she has also acted in a big-budget film starring A-list actors [AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO]. So when Divya -- the wife of the head honcho of T-Series [Bhushan Kumar] -- decided to make a feature-film, everyone expected her to start with top of the line stars/creme-de-la-creme in her maiden venture. Instead, she chose to cast rank newcomers in principal roles -- a move that raised eyebrows.
Post the super-success of STUDENT OF THE YEAR, helmed by Karan Johar and AASHIQUI-2, helmed by Mohit Suri, which was a game changer, several studios as well as reputed raconteurs are executing qualitative projects with fresh faces. YAARIYAN, which marks the directorial debut of Divya Khosla Kumar, stands out from films of its ilk. Reason: While the principal cast boasts of freshers, the making, opulence and splendor is at par with any mega-budget film attempted in Bollywood. The question that crosses your mind is, is YAARIYAN equally big in terms of content? Let's evaluate...
First, the plot! The film starts with the college principal [Gulshan Grover] summoning five students, handing them the responsibility of saving the college campus from a foreign hotelier who intends making a resort. The deal is that in order to save the college, the Indian students should outdo their Australian counterparts in the test of physical and mental abilities. While there are the expected ups, downs and betrayals, what triumphs in the end is friendship, as the title suggests.
I genuinely believe that the teenage years are the best phase of your life. When one is well ensconced in the dreamy world. When life is yet to throw challenges towards you... Divya Khosla Kumar attempts to encapsulate that period through the lead characters of her movie. In fact, it won't be erroneous to state that YAARIYAN attempts to pay tribute to that phase of an individual's life.
Evidently, Divya Khosla Kumar seems to be an ardent fan of movies such as JO JEETA WOHI SIKANDAR, KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI, JAANE TU... YA JAANE NA, 3 IDIOTS and STUDENT OF THE YEAR, since there are faint echoes of such acclaimed films in her maiden endeavor. Of course, the premise of YAARIYAN is dissimilar and so are the character sketches.
The first half of YAARIYAN has its moments of fun, although the narrative tends to go astray at times. If one were to pinpoint the deficiencies, the romance between the professors appears forced in the narrative. Also, Himansh's cousin being attacked by members of the Australian team lacks conviction. The humor/liveliness also dries up after a point and one feels that the first half -- which commenced with lively and funny moments -- could've been succinct by at least 10/15 minutes.
However, the writing gets consistent in the post-interval portions. The mountain biking race as also the rock climbing contest is the mainstay of the film. They are brilliantly executed! Prior to that, the tender moments shared by the lead pair works decently well too. Divya also gets the intensity in the emotional sequences spot on. Additionally, the dazzling locales and magnificent cinematography translate into a truly good looking film.
Divya deserves kudos for accepting the challenge of directing freshers in her debut film. The best of storytellers are not afraid of taking risks and Divya seems to be one of those. Her handling of the humorous moments as well as the emotional ones with maturity confirms the fact that she knows the craft well. But one does feel that the writing could've been sharp edged at places. One of the USPs of the film is -- no prizes for guessing this one! -- the musical score, which has the word 'Chartbuster' written all over it. In fact, every track has caught on big time with listeners, especially 'Baarish' [soulful], 'Sunny Sunny' [a rage with partygoers], 'ABCD' [foot-tapping], 'Allah Waariyan' [melodic] and 'Meri Maa' [makes you moist-eyed]. Cinematography is top notch, with the DoP [Sameer Arya] capturing the spectacular locales with flourish. The opening and end credits are also innovative and catch your eye!
Now to the performances! Agree, the beginners don't set the screen ablaze at the very start itself, but the performances grow on you gradually. Himansh Kohli is earnest and endearing. He has the makings of a fine actor. Rakul Preet looks beautiful and acts confidently. The way she emotes with her eyes is commendable. Nicole Faria, Dev Sharma, Shreyas Pardiwalla, Serah Singh and Vikas Verma are appropriate in their respective parts. Evelyn Sharma looks gorgeous and does a fine job.
Gulshan Grover is wonderfully restrained. Deepti Naval and Smita Jaykar are perfect.
On the whole, YAARIYAN has a gripping second half, smash hit musical score and the youthful romance that should lure and entice its target audience -- the youth. A treat for youngsters and young at heart!