It Might Have Been…
A really good movie…but it unfortunately wasn’t. Yuva – basically Hindi for Youth. Directed (and poorly written by) Mani Ratnam, it tries to be relevant to present day India, to give people an insight into New Indian Youth. It tries, and does well in the beginning, but inevitably fails. It’s meant to be the story of 3 guys coming from totally different lives and backgrounds, and about the collision that brings them together (literally, and figuratively speaking..).
The first problem that strikes you at the end of this movie is: What was this movie about? And that’s when you realize that the director himself wasn’t so sure either….
Was it about Today’s Youth? Calcutta politics? Just the story of 3 guys? I guess a jumble of all three.
It starts with an in-your-face accident, and continues to be in-your-face for the first half of the movie. Each character’s story is laid out, and supporting cast established.
Abhishek Bachchan is the equivalent of Shiva (of the big Knees) in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. He’s there to represent the Dog-Eat-Dog India, the mean gritty street life, e.t.c. He’s got a wife in the really attractive Rani Mukherjee, and he abuses her occasionally, to complete our stereotype. He’s basically the storm trooper of the local reigning politician, portrayed too cartoonishly by Om Puri.
Ajay Devgan is Mr. Idealist. Coming from a middle to upper-middle class background, he believes that change is possible, and worth the fight. His fight-for-right is displayed with a little naivete, but then it makes one think that maybe it is as easy as he seems to make it, in the first half anyway…
Finally, we have Vivek Oberoi belonging to the top of the food chain, and behaving like most rich Delhi-ites (but this movie is set in Calcutta). He’s there to party, screw around, and race off to America when the going gets tough.
So we have our three leads. They each have a woman in their life, and instead of these women adding something to the movie, they end up being little footnotes….so I won’t mention them either..the worst has got be Rani Mukherjee, poor woman. At the end of this movie, she’s packed off to a village, and we have no idea what happens to her.
The movie starts off brilliantly, you’re let thinking – “Yes, these are people I can relate to, this is what Calcutta must be like, and I like the messages emanating from this movie”….but then things just go all wrong towards the end. I think Mani Ratnam couldn’t decide what to do..so the end is one loooooonnnng dragged fight on the Bridge…is it the Howrah Bridge? Dunno never been to Cal. Then it’s followed by an even more ‘filmi’ Vivek Oberoi changing his mind overnight to join Ajay Devgun for the elections…or maybe the other way round, either way, you leave the movie feeling cheated – The director sets up an interesting contemporary story, decides he doesn’t know what to do with it, so just kind of trashes it.
It could have been a statement on today’s youth, on Indian democracy, but instead it was just all confusion, followed by a happy ending (which although had a good message, was wasted because of the nonsense that followed before…).
The music, is of course brilliant. A.R. Rahman composing to Mani Ratnam’s filming was always a deadly combination, and as usual the songs aren’t out of context either (or set in Switzerland..)
All that stays with you in the end however, are some well shot scenes, the music, and bad taste in your mouth.