Politics, besides movies and cricket, is a fav topic of Indians, but the talk on politics has reached a crescendo these days. The forthcoming elections, the political rallies, the debates and arguments on TV channels, the widespread coverage in the print media, the chats on social networking sites... almost every discussion veers to politics, politicians and the ensuing elections nowadays.
YOUNGISTAAN, directed by Syed Ahmad Afzal, couldn't have desired a more appropriate release period. For, YOUNGISTAAN centres around politics, with Jackky Bhagnani essaying the part of a politician who intends bringing about a change. It's a pertinent take on contemporary politics, yet a fictionalized account of a youngster who's not the archetypal politician.
Come to think of it, YOUNGISTAAN is not a hardcore political film. Set against the backdrop of Indian politics, this one attempts to strike a balance between the love story of a young politician and his political life. The challenge lies in doing the balancing act well, besides entertaining the spectators. Does the first-time director get it right?
Let's enlighten you about the plot, first! YOUNGISTAAN narrates the story of Abhimanyu [Jackky Bhagnani], who returns from Japan after his Prime Minister-father, Dashrath Kaul [Boman Irani], succumbs to illness. The elections are not far away and the senior party leaders decide to make Abhimanyu the Prime Minister for the interim period, although his girlfriend, Anvi [Neha Sharma], is dead against Abhimanyu's decision of joining politics. A storm ensues as Abhimanyu's love life becomes public and fodder for gossip millsâ€¦
YOUNGISTAAN looks at scheming politicians, driven by a greed for power and who try to pull the rug from under the feet. The storyteller also borrows episodes from real life -- some characters bear a striking resemblance to real-life politicians too -- making the spectator relate to the proceedings. The ambience is pitch-perfect, the feel is just right, the upheavals in the life of the young politician are illustrated wonderfully at times [Jackky pitches in a stellar act -- more on that later].
Having said that, it's not smooth sailing as far as the screenplay is concerned. The love story, which should've been integrated seamlessly in the premise, is inconsistent. Why is Neha against Jackky's decision of joining politics? Perhaps she has her reasons, but it could've been explained distinctly. Subsequently, Neha's behavior -- after Jackky is sworn as the Prime Minister of the country -- ought to be far more responsible, right? Also, knowing well that the paparazzi has done an exposÃ© on their love life, why don't Jackky and Neha take the saat pheras?
The minor blemishes notwithstanding, YOUNGISTAAN has some wonderful moments. Jackky's character is, without doubt, the USP of the enterprise. His sequences with his father [which are interspersed across the movie], his speech at the U.N., his reaching out to the common man and of course, the culmination to the story keep you completely hooked. Also, the sequences between Jackky and the senior political leaders are expertly executed by the director.
The soundtrack boasts of the energetic 'Tanki', but it's the harmonious 'Suno Na Sangemarmar' that stays with you. In fact, 'Suno Na Sangemarmar' comes across as a breath of fresh air in this era of mediocrity. The production design is top notch, with the makers going all out to give the film a tasteful look.
Jackky Bhagnani springs a big surprise, surrendering himself to the character completely and delivering what can be rightly termed as his most sensitive portrayal to date. The confidence and understanding with which he carries off his part is an eye-opener, frankly. This act is sure to win Jackky plaudits, besides making people sit up and notice the hitherto untapped talent. Neha Sharma does very well, although you don't feel for the character initially. The late Farooque Sheikh is absolutely flawless and his performance in the film makes you miss him all the more. Boman Irani is, as always, bankable. Meeta Vashisht and Kayoze Irani get limited scope. The actors enacting the part of the politicians are perfect.
On the whole, YOUNGISTAAN has an interesting premise, a mature act by Jackky Bhagnani and importantly, the message it conveys is just right. The writing could've been sharper, but having said that, this movie is worthy of a watch.