Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD), in spite of being a well-packaged product with a zippy soundtrack and a hero, who proves yet again that he is possibly the best mainstream hero of the country, fails to satisfy as it sticks to the tried and tested. So what you get is the predictable on-the-surface superficial bubble-gum fluff that combines various Yashraj-Dharma films (mainly DDLJ and the director's own Wake Up Sid) and their moments in a wafer-thin storyline sticking well and comfortably within the stereotypical template.
So, what have we got: Note: Some Spoilers Ahead!
- A commitment-phobic hero who wants to live his life in the fast lane and see the world - check
- A scholarly heroine who has to wear specs to look studious instead of being asked to do it with her acting - check
- The flirty hero not recognizing the geeky heroine and trying to remember which party he met her at - check
- Her falling for the hero and vice versa, turning his world upside down - check
- The specs being cast aside once she becomes 'cool' - check
- Hero stopping to look at her admiringly when she dances - check
- Pretty people perennially in pretty locations - check
- Best friends for support - check
- Major events played out against the backdrop of the big, fat Indian wedding - check
- A sad song once the hero-heroine have said I love you to each other but decide to part as this alters the otherwise easy relationship they have with each other - check
- An item number by a top diva - check
- Song(s) with a Punjabi flavour - check
- A happy ending in Apna Desh - check
You get the picture. Every single item on the check-list is followed to make sure that a crowd pleasing product has been delivered to the audience and one can't say the film hasn't succeeded in this. But scratch the surface and what lies beneath is nothing really. And even if you are playing with clichés, some attention to detail would help. But this is the world of Bollywood where logic in storytelling or characterisation is never a strong point. So, our heroine is a scholar who comes first always in academics but goes for a trek (she even reiterates that she knows what a trek is) with a huge uncomfortable suitcase rather than a back-pack, carrying medicine study books - the very thing she is supposed to escape from - and proceeds to hike in Manali in highly skimpy clothes. A scene in the red-light area is extended ever so clumsily just to put in an extremely badly placed item number. It is perfectly ok to break a mountain of champagne glasses deliberately as part of being a cool cat during expensive wedding celebrations. The list goes on...
Still, the film does have its odd moments and is lifted greatly by Ranbir Kapoor who proves yet again he is easily the best we have. He expertly captures his character graph perfectly even if it is a journey from A to B and little more. Kalki is the most likeable and feisty she has ever been and is actually fine as is Aditya Roy Kapoor but Deepika still needs to brush up her acting skills and is found wanting in the truly emotional scenes besides overplaying her geeky avatar. Rana Daggubati's and Poorna Jagannathan's cameos add nothing and one wonders why they were there in the first place. Farouque Shaikh and Tanvi Azmi makes the most of their few moments on screen, bringing great dignity to their scenes and it helps that the father-son scenes somewhere ring the truest. Otherwise, the narrative is convenient, simplistic and generally predictable - with just the odd cliché being given a twist and the flow too gets pretty heavy-handed and ploddingly dull in the second half. The length tells as the film is much too long for what it wants to say. Though inspired heavily from DDLJ, it lacks that film's magical romantic moments to credibly build a memorable romance and further, Bunny-Naina are no Raj-Simran. But then as mentioned that's also somewhere due to the characters not being sufficiently etched out.
Technically, the film expectedly scores. It has a rich visual gloss, great production value and amongst the songs Budtameez Dil, Dilliwaali Girlfriend and Baalam Pitchkari are well composed and undoubtedly catchy. The former, in particular, has you humming and is also picturized energetically with some great, great dancing by Ranbir.
At the end of the day, YJHD is watchable enough only as typical well-made K-Jo type fluff and fine enough at best for some undemanding viewing especially for Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone fans, but for those who like a little more in their cinema, there's really nothing more on offer here. Ultimately, it is all about the daily comfort of dal-chawal for life!