Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Bollywood movie review: Yuvvraaj
Luckily, Director Subhash Ghai decided to make a family drama that is watchable, mostly after intermission.
Director Subhash Ghai needs to prove he can make a hit again. The last time he had a truly great film was Pardes in 1997. Taal in 1999 was only a success because of its amazing soundtrack but still a so-so movie. Before this, he was a household name with classics such as Ram Lakhan and Khal Nayak proving him unstoppable. However, after 1999, he has made painful movies like Yaadein and Kisna that have appropriately flopped. So Yuvvraaj is pretty necessary for him to prove that he can make Bollywood magic again.
Luckily, Ghai decided to make a family drama that is watchable, mostly after intermission. It’s not his best work, nor his worst, but it’s just decent. The story is pretty cliché in the first half of the movie, and then it takes a more interesting turn in the second when the family drama begins.
It begins with the love story between Deven (Salman Khan) and Anushka (Katrina Kaif), who are actually a real-life couple. They are both madly in love, however the girl’s father, Dr. Banton (Boman Irani), disapproves of Deven and is trying to marry her off to someone else. Deven is a musician, makes little money, and has no familial ties, thus a failure in Dr. Banton’s eyes. Although an integral part for Deven’s storyline, this drags on for about and hour between the fights and the love songs. Finally, Deven’s father dies, who happens to be a billionaire and Deven realizes this is his chance to become wealthy. Deven decides to draw up a proposal for Dr. Banton that he will be a billionaire in 30 days or else Anushka can be married to whomever her father chooses.
This is where the real plot begins. When he travels to London to claim his part of the inheritance, we meet his 2 estranged brothers: autistic, naive Gyanesh (Anil Kapoor) and money-hungry playboy Danny (Zayed Khan). Add to that an evil uncle, aunt, and cousins who want their part of the money as well. Unfortunately for everyone, the father leaves all the money to autistic Gyanesh who really has no mental capacity to understand the wealth. The story then plays out as the struggle to get the money and bringing the three brothers together, and ends up being a feel-good family movie by the end.
But the film mainly falters because of the excess of exposition. If Ghai had shied away from the love story just for 45 minutes, the movie could have been more captivating. Plus, corny dialogue, a predictable ending, and stereotypical characters don’t really add much depth. It always happens: when a person is evil in a Bollywood movie, they are just flat-out evil.
As far as the actors go, it’s a mixed bag. Although a supporting role, Anil Kapoor is the star as autistic Gyanesh. And right after playing the cunning host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in Slumdog Millionaire, he now gets a chance to play a totally different character. Salman Khan plays Deven and is decent enough. He neither adds nor detracts from the story. The gorgeous Katrina Kaif as Anushka walks through her role, just flashing her smile when needed. She also doesn’t add anything to her character and could have been replaced by any Bollywood heroine. However, she is able to mime playing the cello rather well. Zayed Khan as the greedy Danny, should win Over-Actor of the year, mainly because of excessive yelling and the “meltdown” scene. Boman Irani and the other supporting characters were all reliable.
Yuvvraaj is beautifully shot in Europe and adds a very eye-catching layer of grandeur. Along with this visual beauty, one would expect and amazing soundtrack, especially with music by master A.R. Rahman (who also scored Slumdog) and lyrics by Gulzar. Aside from the classical piece “Manmohini Morey”, the songs were actually quite mediocre, at best. “Shano” has really annoying choreography, while the visualization of “Mastam Mastam” is all over the place. For some reason, they have backup dancers dressed up as cats from Broadway which is creeeepy, and Dr. Banton starts purring and growling like a feline. “Meri Dost Hain” is a nice love song, but still typical.
The film is a good family fare which has not happened for a few months, and it is perfect for this long Thanksgiving weekend. But with all the mediocrity and predictability of Yuvvraaj, this film will be forgotten quite quickly. The most important thing is that Subhash Ghai did not make another dreadful piece of work.