This weekend there are three new films on offer – there is the Sunny Deol and Harman Baweja starrer, Dhishkiyaoon which is supposed to be about the Mumbai underworld, then there was O Teri a comedy starring Pulkit Samrat, Bilal Amrohi, Sarah-Jane Dias, about two journalists who unearth a scam, and then there is Youngistaan starring Jacky Bhagnani and Neha Sharma. My movie buddies and I took a call and watched the last mentioned – Youngistaan turned out to be well worth the watch, and barring a few slipups a very worthy effort indeed.
Rating – ***
Film – Youngistaan (Release date 28 March 2014)
Starring – Jacky Bhagnani, Neha Sharma, Farooq Shaikh and Boman Irani
Producer – Vaashu Bhangani, Pranjal Khandhdiya
Director – Syed Ahmed Afzal
Story/Screenplay – Ramiz Ilham Khan, Syed Ahmed Afzal and Maitrey Bajpai
Music – Jeet Ganguly, Shree Isshq, Sneha Khanwalkar, Shiraz Uppal
Story, Plot – Youngistaan
The movie establishes a few things quickly – we have Abhimanyu Kaul (Jackhy Bhagnani) who is a games developer living in Toyko. He is in a live-in relationship with Anwita (Neha Sharma) who is an intern of some sort and a dog walker. Then there is good friend (Kayoze Irani) whom Ahimanyu works and parties with. This is a thoroughly modern, fun bunch of young people. It is also quickly established that this is a can-do, problem solver kind of guy because of the way in which he plans to deals with a colleague who has stolen his idea.
Abhimanyu also happens to be the son of the Prime Minister of India, who is dying of cancer in a hospital in Orlando. The son rushes to be by his father’s death bed. With the PM’s PA Akbar (Farooq Shaikh) in attendance, he promises his father a few things. Among them is that he will consent when he is asked to lead the country as the PM after his father’s death.
So here is this carefree 28 year old suddenly thrust willy nilly into the top job of the world’s biggest democracy. (It would sound implausible until we recall to mind that the scenario in 1984 post the assassination of Indira Gandhi was not that much different.) so suddenly his life changes: where on the one hand he has to contend with meetings the Chiefs of the country’s defence services, on the other he has to contend with the petty peeves of his girl friend.
The top brass of the party agrees to make young Abhimanyu the PM because it is election year and they want a scapegoat to tide them over till elections. Obviously the young PM has other ideas – soon he is creating problems for the old guard with his new suggestions, ordering uncomfortable inquiries and creating grievance cells. Meanwhile he sees no reason why she should not continue to live with his girlfriend, which he does. This and an inadvertent pregnancy do cause scandal and protest, but he handles these with a a certain degree of aplomb.
Where the movie works is that Bhagnani does a really good job as the likeable and very sympathetic Abhimanyu. He is very believable when he is first shattered by the death of his father, then makes time to make the woman in his life feel cherished and secure and then reveals himself to be a sufficiently intelligent and devious strategist to be a successful politician in India.
Farooq Shaikh as the loyal PA, the other conniving politicians, the PM’s personal security are all well etched and plausible. There are also amusing bits where the PM wonders why his Facebook pictures are being deleted and where the young couple set out to find Matka Kulfi in the middle of the night.
Where the movie stutters is that it has some issues with connectivity – it is not clear how the girl friend is suddenly able to up and leave her Tokyo job to traipse around the world with her boyfriend. And then her whining and complaining in the face of the changed circumstances gets to be irritating very quickly.
Also the narrative is a little bumpy in parts and the bit where he suddenly becomes very popular among the people of the country is a little too convenient and pat. Then there is the speech that the PM gives at the UN is very moving, but why he went to the UN and why he gave a patriotic speech there is an unexplained mystery.
Youngistaan’s music is lively and apposite to the situations that accompany the songs. Taanki is amusing and fun, with a bunch of really whacky lyrics. The song picturised on the Taj Mahal – Suno na Sangemarmar is the pick of the lot – a nice, hummable melody that stays with you.
All in all, Youngistaan is a good movie with a very significant feel good factor. It is also a very worthy effort to send across an important message of good polity and the contribution that the youth must make in order to see a difference.
By – Reena Daruwalla