YEH JAWAANI HAI DEEWANI

The business of cinema is ruthless when it comes to exploiting off screen relationships. You just need a star willing to allow a chapter from his eventful personal life adapted for a screenplay. Once upon a time, Amitabh Bachchan did it with flair. When rumour mills were abuzz about his relationship with Rekha, he not only agreed to do Silsila but also ensured that she became a part of the film. Some years before he did something similar in Abhimaan, where again viewers applauded as the real and reel allegedly merged.

This time it is the turn of the emerging sultan of celluloid, Ranbir Kapoor, to play with the gossip on his personal life for his professional interest. Director Ayan Mukherjee relies less on story and more on the casting coup of bringing Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone together after their alleged off screen relationship went kaput.

Even the characterisation is similar to what the tabloids and film magazines reeled out.

Ranbir plays a commitment phobic, self absorbed guy called Bunny, who is focussed just on his dreams and career. He comes across this rooted, intelligent girl Naina (obviously played by Deepika), who knows more about life than he does. Early in the film he calls her a thing to fall in love with, but for now he has no time. He just wants to flirt and move on. Heck, he has no time for his parents, how can he afford a life partner. As expected the girl waits. Of course he returns…and the rest you can guess!

It is a timely take on a highly individualistic generation which wants to reach out to the world, talk to the strangers, but doesn’t want to care about people who gave them their identity. But we have seen a lot of this theme in recent years. So one awaits the journey, the conversations and the shots of mush to spring a surprise. It lives up to the standards of a Karan Johar production. Made for boys and girls who are yet to prioritise between ambitions and family and friends, it has aspirational written all over it. Good looking people in good looking places having a good time to the tunes of Pritam. From Madhuri Dixit to product placements, everything is positioned to bedazzle the gullible. The camera is indulgent and the conversations are cool.

In this world if you wear glasses you are studious, if you drink vodka you are wild. Medicine students are not expected to holiday and the coolest job in the world is photography. Meant for people who have learnt the rules of friendship from ‘Friends’, the dresses are short, the words shorter. No wonder, even obvious stops at obvio! After intermission it is the time for handkerchiefs to cover the farce as some deep thoughts about relationships tumble out and the background score swells and swells to drown the predictability of the plot.

But wait, it is not just a shallow rom com. Ayan is not a bad director. He gave ample proof of his understanding of the rich & spoilt brats in Wake Up Sid . Here again he knows the characters he is working with. He may have a flimsy storyline – it might have emerged after the casting – which cannot last for 160-odd minutes on the twists in the plot alone. So he lets his characters breathe, argue and reason before changing their perception of themselves and the world around.

Naina takes time to shun her spectacles and put her feet in the pool and Bunny grapples to hold on to his ambitious self until he discovers that it is actually selfishness. His conversations with his father (Farooq Sheikh) hold the soul of the film but unfortunately Ayan wants to say everything in words and the whole exercise remains largely superficial and conflict-free. Wherever he has attempted silence to take over, it creates deeper impact. Take the scene where Bunny is alone on top of a bus with only his cameras and instruments.

The casting coup works as the lead pair keeps us busy even when the plot loses its zing. Ranbir is once again credible as the rakish boy who is refusing to become a man but it is not something that tests his talent.

The surprise package is Deepika Padukone. In a role, which could have easily reduced her to a show piece she instils life with her eyes doing indulging in conversations that words cannot express. In fact in the last half an hour she outshines the Kapoor boy with her grace and warmth. They are in talented company with Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapur making the usual friend role a little less cardboard like.

At the end of the day the shifts appear too convenient and engineered but perhaps that is the way it is meant to be for it is tossed as a summer vacation bonanza for the urban teenagers struggling to look beyond their gadgets and games. See it from their eyes and you might figure out what badtameez dil… can lead us to.

THE HANGOVER PART-3

The Wolfpack is back but the bite is missing. Greed has turned a great idea into a chewing gum. Not learning from the experience of Hangover-2 , director Todd Phillips expects us to masticate almost the same script the third time leaving one with a bad taste. The surprise, the wit, the raunchiness that defined the original is all gone. This time even the hangover is missing, so is the reverse narrative. The only concern of the makers it to somehow bring Phil, Stu, Alan and Doug together and put them on the road to baloney.

The cacophony shifts to Arizona and Mexico where the gang of four (Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha) is kidnapped by a crime lord (John Goodman) and is tasked with extracting 20 million dollars of stolen money from an absconding Chow (Ken Jeong).

The writing lacks inspiration and draws heavily from previous instalments not as a necessity, but because of lack of ideas. The focus is not on characterisation but to include the highlights that define the franchise. So there has to be an animal. This time it is the turn of a giraffe, whose head is sliced for a joke. Cocks are put on cocaine and exterminated to tickle the audience. Alan’s idiocy is no longer funny. It has become sadistic as Galifianakis has become too predictable to spark a laugh riot. His comments and rebuttals no longer sprout naturally. They rather come across as forced one-liners of a gag show, which has to run because the TRPs are coming. In fact, when Cooper gives a silent look to his buffoonery, it looks more amusing than the scenes where the boys indulge in some claptrap.

Chow doesn’t have the acting chops to light up a full-fledged recipe. Cooper and company seem bored amidst this Chow-generated chaos. Phillips tries to cash on the sentimental value by taking the guys back to Las Vegas where it all started. This portion works for the sheer nostalgia that it generates.

For somebody who treats this kind of cinema as a reservoir of easy laughs, it is slightly better than the second part but one doesn’t want to prescribe it for it might enthuse Phillips to break his vow.

Let’s get back to the senses!

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