Nov 30, 2008

Notes on Yuva

There are some films that u remember not quite liking when u first watch them but which take u completely by surprise on a diff occasion. Some films that come to mind are lagaan, badiwali & yuva, the last of which I watched today after a gap of nearly 4 yrs. While I can’t remb the exact reasons why yuva made no impression on me in the past, I can clearly discern the elements that worked for me today. Of course a big reason could be that I haven’t watched any hindi film in the past 2 yrs that left me absol speechless, with the possible exception of bheja fry. When u tie this with the prevailing mood in Mumbai today, it doesn’t take much to see that I’m pbably making too much out of an ordinary film. Whatever…

For starters I can’t recall another film that has captured the spirit of Calcutta so accurately & made it sing on the screen. Its heavy, sensual beauty captured through the lens of cinematographer --- leaves u so smitten that it almost gags u with a feel of the smog that rises from the ganges over the new vidyasagar setu. In fact, all the setu scenes are beautifully shot & communicate the contrasting languorousness & vibrant activity that is so much a part of the city. Contrast the way vivek woos kareena with desperate shyness against a backdrop of speeding trucks & bikes & u will know what I’m referring to. And the fact that there are no rosogolla gulping babumoshai’s is enough to grant this a three star rating. Instead we have a glimpse of Someplace Else, Victoria Memorial, the city's ubiquitous fuchka (paani puri) vendors & its firebrand idealist college leaders.

Liked I have never ajay devgan & I still maintain that he’s 1 of the most overrated actors but I feel that yuva is one of his finest films; at least he manages to largely control that irritating smirk (save in the scenes with om puri.) for once his age doesn’t work against him coz he isn’t a 40’ish aamir khan playing a DU graduate student in rang de basanti (RDB). In fact he reminded me so much of my own seniors in JU like bata da, swagata di & arnab who continued to be an integral part of campus politics long after they’d passed out or even started pursuing their professional interests. That is the thing about Calcutta, or it was when I lived there eons ago. There is a madness, an irreverence & a joie de vivre in the city that I have witnessed in only another, completely different place – las vegas. Also, if you’ve been shot in the chest & thrown in the river, chances are it’s only in Calcutta that a stranger will jump off the bridge to save u. notice the way vivek first tries to garner help & support from outside before realizing that if smthing has to be done, it has to be done NOW & that waiting for someone else, will result in just that – a long eternal wait. Note the way he utters an encouraging military marching chant kind of call before he finally plunges into the water. Probably that is what touched me deeply about yuva today, plus the obvious fact that it is targeted at a very clear audience, much like RDB. Even as I was watching it I was mulling how a national political party comprising solely of people in the 20-50 year old bracket with no political or criminal connections would work out in today’s india? Till date I don’t know of any political party that screens its members on the basis of educational qualifications or age or criminal history. It would also help if all members would be at least college graduates. Sounds elitist? Darn right. I am tired of the socialism crap & I don’t care if I don’t drag my billion plus garib brothers & sisters out of the ‘darkness’ as long as I know what I am doing today will inevitably lead to light for everyone tomorrow.

Anyway to return to yuva again, kareena & vivek deliver 1 of their best performances here & I wonder why they didn’t go on to become 1 of bollywood’s hottest pairs. Recall the scene where a lovely kareena clad in a maroon chiffon saree comes to bid goodbye to an injured vivek & holding her hand he beseeches, ‘mat jao’. As he begins, ‘mai tumse..’ she cuts him off with, ‘kuch mat kaho. Mai jaanti hu.’ With the orchestra playing a slow version of the ‘fanaa’ piece in the background & the expression on these two actors’ faces doing all the talking, this is definitely one of the best romantic moments in celluloid history. Somehow I was reminded of emma thompson in ‘Carrington’ holding jonathan price in her arms & soothing him to sleep even as she clearly understands that there are limits to the ways in which she can reach him because of his sexual preferences. That anguish, that utter despair will be forever etched in my memory.

Rani is her usual splendid self & to write anything about her performance would be facetious. After all who can combine that degree of absolute bliss & despair that every married woman must know in her life when she’s madly in love with a man who never really grew up. Also, I cannot recall another bollywood actress who plays a married woman with such sensuality. As I write this I remember she was exactly the same as kamal hassan’s wife in ‘hey ram’. That big red bindi, that oiled hair & that loosely draped cotton sari have surely set many hearts afire. ‘kabhi neem neem’ easily goes down as one of rehman’s finest compositions & I’m glad he didn’t use his usual band of favourite south Indian singers like chitra or minmini. To hear madhusree in this song is to be assured perfection exists.

That’s it I guess. I think I must revisit some of the hit films I didn’t like at all, like iqbal or chak de india, & see what I make of them a 2nd time. but that would also mean that I have to sit through laga chunri mein daag & u me aur hum’ again. Nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii …

No comments: