Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Yeh Kahaani Hai Begaani!

The following is not a review of the recently released film "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani". They are some thoughts I had while watching the film. They stayed with me even after the film got over, resulting in this post. Watch out, there are some spoilers!

If the bunch of lead characters in "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani" represent the youth of India in any way, it is something to worry about. I sat through the entire 139 minutes, trying to find something...anything that would help me make a connect between the characters and the young people of contemporary India, to no avail.

I know that mainstream Hindi cinema is usually a work of exaggeration, where a largely deprived audience gets to fulfill their fantasies of wearing designer clothes, travelling to exotic locations, shaking a leg with glamorous beauties and skiing down the slopes at some expensive resort. In short, experiencing a lifestyle that is out of their reach. I have no problem with that. If people enjoy living in a world of their dreams for three hours, it is alright.

I know that today's youth are sometimes a confused lot, in search of purpose and direction. They are stressed out, ambitious and willing to pay a high price to achieve their goals. But they are also smart, open and articulate.

What I was aghast at was the portrayal of the young brigade as insensitive, self-centered and arrogant beings who do not take any cognizance of their parents, let alone respect them.  Okay, I realize that we have moved away from the era of the eternally sorrowful mother who stitched clothes for a living, and who had an obedient son falling at her feet crying "maa" every now and then...thank God for that! If this was unpalatable, the other extreme is even more so. For, it is conveying a message that this generation can get away with anything, absolutely anything.

Take Ranbir Kapoor's rude and rough behaviour towards his parents--especially his stepmother--who are waiting for him to return home late at night. Or Deepika Padukone's outburst at her overbearing mother at the dinner table. The poor father doesn't even get to say a single word! And that was the last the mother was seen! Later, as our girl goes through many ups and downs on the emotional roller coaster of her love life, she does not ever need her mother's support to help her cope with the turmoil in her life.

The case of Kalki is no different. She delivers a power-packed performance as an adventurous bohemian young woman, but her parents or guardians are nowhere in the picture. Same is the story with Aditya Roy parents. All of them go through their lives as individuals with no family, no siblings, no support system, no responsibilities. They are not answerable to anybody; drinking, dancing and making merry with friends to their hearts' content. And following their passion (globetrotting in Ranbir's case) with an alarming single-mindedness.

Whether it was the weak storyline, poorly etched out characters and rambling script lacking focus at times; or the absence of a more well-rounded depiction of the protagonists that got to me more, I'd say it was the latter. We can debate on the matter of films being inspired by society or society being influenced by films. Either way, the warning bells that I heard while watching this film recently were not only loud and clear, but scary too!

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