Certain films run out of steam despite an interesting storyline, partly due to difficult-to-comprehend screenplay and also due to the abstract nature of narrating the story. YATRA is one of those films.
The story of YATRA could've developed into a fascinating screenplay, but writer/editor/director Goutam Ghose interprets it in an offbeat manner, which makes the goings-on difficult to decipher for an average moviegoer.
Dasrath Joglekar [Nana Patekar], a celebrated writer, travels to Delhi to receive the prestigious Literary Award. During the journey he meets a young film-maker Mohan [Nakul Vaid], an ardent fan of Dasrath's writing and the encounter brings back memories from the past.
Both of them travel back in time, remembering characters from Dasrath's celebrated novel 'Janaza', reconstructing the true story of the novel protagonist, Lajvanti [Rekha], from their own perspective. After the gala award ceremony in New Delhi, Dasrath disappears from his hotel. Tension mounts in his family [comprising of wife Deepti Naval and two kids].
Memories from the past and passion bring Dasrath to Mehendi Galli, where people flock to listen to mujras. But everything has changed with time. Lajvanti has become Lisa, presenting popular film songs to entertain a new clientele. Dasrath's sudden appearance is a great surprise for Lajvanti. The character of his novel 'Janaza' comes alive in an unexpected juncture.
On paper, the plotline sounds interesting, but when translated on celluloid, it lacks the power to enchant you. The screenplay doesn't work because it seems unfinished and also, Ghose's execution is abstract.
From the writing point of view, the relationship between Nana and Rekha hasn't been carefully developed. Nana is shown meeting Rekha at a very crucial stage of the story [she has been raped]. An unexplainable bond develops between the two that makes you conclude that they have feelings for each other. Ideally, the writer/director should've shown a sequence or two to support this theory, so that when Nana suddenly lands up at Rekha's doorstep after winning the award, it looks believable.
The second hour goes haywire. Nana's sudden demise and Rekha's idea to get rid of the body by hiding it in her closet and packing it off to an undisclosed destination, looks bizarre. Nana's wife [Deepti Naval] drops in at that moment and a few minutes later, the movie ends. What kind of a climax was that?
In between, there are sequences that flummox the viewer. Nana imagines his daughter in a call centre, his bruised son is being interviewed by a TV reporter and his associate in Delhi is getting intimate with a guy, who in turn is capturing the 'action' on his cell phone... What was that? Slightly earlier, Deepti Naval was shown as a farmer's wife, who looks shocked to see her husband [Nana, a farmer] commit suicide... Sorry, didn't understand that either!
Music [Khayyam and Goutam Ghose] is equally uninteresting. Cinematography is of standard, although the color tones tend to get dark at times. Dialogues are wonderful and are sure to be appreciated.
It's a different Nana Patekar you get to watch in YATRA. Devoid of his usual mannerisms, Nana is natural to the core. The problem with Rekha is that she has enacted similar roles in the past and no matter how hard she tries, it doesn't work. But, yes, the sequence when Nana meets her for the first time [the cry of anguish] is splendid. Deepti Naval is appropriate. Nakul Vaid gets minimal scope. Romit Raaj [Nana's son] is hardly there. The veteran actress enacting the role of Nana's mother is lovable.
On the whole, YATRA is a poor fare. It has precious little for connoisseurs of art house cinema, but nothing for the masses. The low-key promotion coupled with a mighty opposition [SPIDER-MAN 3] will make YATRA's yatra at the box-office very tough.