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Yuva: a welcome relief from Mani Ratnam

Gaurav Sharma | May 21, 2004 11:40 IST

When Mani Ratnam said he may not make another Hindi movie after the commercial failure of Dil Se, many did not realise what we were going to miss.

Yuva comes as a relief to the audience in many ways.

But first, an introduction to the movie:

The story revolves around three men totally different from each other in their attitudes and ambitions. Lallan (Abhishek Bachchan) is a small-time goon. He is doing it because he has no other choice and this is the only profession that suits his temperament.

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Michael (Ajay Devgan) is a self-aware man who knows what he is doing and wants to clean the system from the inside by becoming a part of it. Arjun (Vivek Oberoi) is the cool dude who takes life as it comes and goes by his intuition. He may not know why he is doing something but goes for it because he wants to do it.

You may feel connected to one of the three. The men are supported by Sasi (Rani), who wants to bring Lallan to normal life; Radhika (Esha), the mischievous counterpart of Michael; and Meera (Kareena), who complements Arjun with her wit and innocence. The movie relates the three stories and six lives.

They are all connected through an accident that occurs on Howrah Bridge after which their lives change forever. Watch out for the neatly executed incessant fight sequence towards the end on Howrah Bridge!

Here's what went right with the film. Coming at a time of the general elections, this is an excellent offering from Ratnam. Without going overboard, Ratnam makes strong social statements and makes the film look realistic. A specialist in merging commercial cinema with social issues, Mani Ratnam has done it again: no fantasies, no dream sequences, no over-the-top dialogues, no embarrassing scenes depicting social awareness and sudden bursts of desh-bhakti, no item numbers, but still a complete entertainer, close to life.

The director deserves credit for shooting his films totally in India. The cinematography by Ravi K Chandran is excellent and captures the life and culture of Kolkata in all its frames. The knowledge of this medium shows and the work seems to be that of an experienced director.

But sometimes, the slick editing and fast shots look as if the movie were made by a young director getting spurts of creativity. The songs and scenes are beautifully shot with the right combination of colours to bring the effect others dream of. Mani Ratnam can truly be called a painter. 

The backbone of the movie is its music. Coming from A R Rahman, the unusual is expected. Many people crib that good musicians reserve their best for some directors. Like it was said for R D Burman for Ramesh Sippy or Nasir Husain.

Well, there are only a few directors who can give free hand to such musicians and have the guts to shoot the arbitrariest of tracks. Check out the picturisation of the songs in Yuva.

If Vijay Anand's camera moved with the melody of the songs, then Mani Ratnam's camera moves with the beats. A lot of slow motion shots have been used and the music has been merged to become part of the story. Like The Legend Of Bhagat Singh and Lagaan, the background score of Yuva is excellent and guides the emotions of the viewers.

As far as the performances are concerned, Abhishek Bachchan and Esha Deol will find new fans after the release of this movie.

Bachchan Junior shows the intensity that his character needs, and Deol Junior looks naughty and innocent at the same time. Kareena comes with a controlled performance and fits the bill. Rani and Ajay are seasoned actors and deliver what was required.

Vivek Oberoi's character is an extension of his role in Saathiya and hence is convincing. Om Puri is one of the few actors who got their Bengali accents right. (Hope there won't be articles written on some rare wrong pronunciations like it happened with Devdas!)

One hopes the film is a success and Mani Ratnam is convinced that Hindi-speaking audiences want more of his non-dubbed work because we can't afford to miss films with original and Indian stories.

Yuva comes as a relief at a time of worthless mushy romances and full of sex movies with little relevance to our lives and our country.

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