Cast: Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Set Design, Paintings by Omung Kumar Da Vinci
Direction: Subhash Ghai
What does one say to you at a point when you’re vulnerable despite having given 35 years of your life to cinema? I can only remind you that audience tastes have changed, not always for the better (witness the success of Golmaal Returns).
I write this review in the form of a letter... because there’s a sense of nostalgia of the time you gave us vibrant entertainers (Karz and Ram Lakhan top the coolest list). You’ve had an inborn instinct for music, choreographed set pieces (Bada dukh deena, Choli ke peechhey, Meri Jung title song, so many) and have been quite unapologetically wacko with Ding dong o baby sing a song or Ilu Ilu. All so much fun-do-dee-dee.
Now, I’m not here to write an essay, say something like Ghai Ghai ki Kahani. I go into this simply because your cinema has been more ‘you you’ than the nasty daggers, cloaks and masks worn by the ABs and Cs of this movie world and the so-called masters of underworld Aags and Kings of Khatiyas.
And so to come to Yuvvraaj, the 18th film you have directed. Sorry but it’s a sitting duck. Conceptually, its plot must have kicked off with Rainman. And so we have an autistic Anil Kapoor who’s being conned by his foster brother Salman Khan. Why? Because Foster Khan needs billions to marry Katrina Kaif, the daughter of Dr Boman Irani who behaves more outrageously than your Dr Dang (remember him?).
Couldn’t you have instructed Irani to be a wee bit controlled? Never mind, because the WORST performance from the lot comes from yet another foster brother, Zayed Khan. This one’s given to wearing glares at nights, leather caps (leather!) and absolutely no recognisable human emotion on his face.
So, Anil is the likeable answer to Dustin Hoffman (and the only real actor on the scene). Salman Khan is Tom Cruise with an ear-ring, flowery shirt and a Greco-Italiano accent. Back to the inescapable Zayed, he has a girlfriend who has these hot toasted lips. Mwaaah aaah mwaah really.
Sir, I also have to point out that Katrina Kaif (whom an NRI clown also wants to marry) just adores Salman. And heavens, there’s much real-life-kind of gossipy dialogue about marriage-no-marriage. Strangely, however, the perennially wide-eyed, lip-glossed Kaif has more lively chemistry with her cello than with Salman.
Sir, the screenplay also organises a squint-eyed mamaji (was that dear K.N. Singh’s ghost?), a Cleavage Festival aka Zehreeley Zehreeley Kumari. But the funniest of the supporting crew are superkid Bala who bangs bongo drums, two bozos munching on ‘burgers, and an Oprah Winfrey look-alike who pops up to sing Maaastam Maaaaastam Gulzar lyric. Has he lost his pen? Plus quite oddly everyone in Austria, Czechoslovakia and London speak fat-a-fat Hindi. The rare few who don’t are assigned subtitles. Hmmm.
Subhashji, Katrina Kaif vanishes in the second-half (was she too busy curling her hair?). Pakistani actor Javed Shaikh’s histrionics are confined to a scary portrait. Sulabha Arya looks as if she’d rather be acting in Phool aur Kaanta Bai. Zayed Khan is assigned two Robert De Niroish screaming breakdown scenes (that’s two too much). And Anil Kapoor prepares to sing at a desi rock concert, thanks to his ‘genius musical disorder’. Why didn’t you let him complete the concert sir? It was the most riveting section of the movie, featuring AR Rahman’s score at his symphonic best. Dialogue goes for lines like, “Oh you’re having beer dear, don’t come near.” Dong ding?
Sir, yes you are vulnerable. But it is better to be told by anyone — from a lay person to yours sincerely — about the uppers and downers. The direction is much too stagey, sir. Still, this film should never ever be your last one, Subhashji. You may not get roses and chocolates for this one... but here’s hoping and praying that you come back, re-charged for an entertainer that will match if not surpass Karz and Ram Lakhan. Yuvvraaj doesn’t. I end, still Ilu Ilu.