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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani': The UKAsian Review

When the big ‘item’ number featuring ageing-well diva Madhuri Dixit features in the first ten minutes, you know exactly what to expect from this frothy, colourful and formulaic bollyromcom. It largely delivers on its promise.

Of course the plot is pure bolly-corn: will mismatched lovers fun-loving Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) and geeky Naina (Deepika Padukone) realise that they are meant for each other?

We follow their initial meet on a trekking trip to the scenic resort of Manali where the spec-wearing studious medical student Naina learns how to unwind from the adventurous Bunny whose mantra is ‘life’s got to have some spicy fun’. Naina also encounters Bunny’s best mates: carefree Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) who rightfully asserts that ‘arranged marriages suck!’ and booze-lover Avi.

This ‘DDLJ’-like experience teaches Naina that there is more to life than books and making parathas. She develops a taste for ‘Ludgi’, the local alcoholic drink, climbs a mountain top with Bunny and realises she’s in love!

Alas, the object of her affections Bunny is more interested in taking up his scholarship in Chicago than tangoing with the now contact-lenses wearing Naina.

Post-interval, and eight years later, the beautiful couple is reunited at Aditi’s wedding in Udaipur. They have to confront not only their feelings for each other but also reassess their priorities in life.

There is much to admire about the standard ‘live your dream; listen to your heart’ message. It’s updated to India 2013 and addresses a real dilemma many educated global Indians face: should they accept that dream ‘green card’ job in Chicago/Paris/London and consequently risk alienation from their friends and family and ‘Mother India’ herself?

At its heart, this vibrant film is a celebration of friendship not only amongst friends but also family. The beautiful cast can actually act and the lavish song and dance sequences (frustratingly, not subtitled) are as glorious, camp and colourful as to be expected.

Former real life lovers Kapoor and Padukone vibrate some reel life chemistry and the strong supporting cast add to the appeal of this sweet and affecting film.

Director Ayan Mukerji, a Karan Johar protégé (the film is co-produced by KJo) delivers the emotions we expect from our melodramas with restraint and even realism quite unlike his mentor. He even throws in a safe sex message when Avi goes in search of a condom.

Pity then Mukerji cops out from making the Aditi character a lesbian as was hinted initially in the first part of the film especially as none of her friends would appear to have had an issue with her sexuality.

The subtitles are unintentionally funny with references to ‘Madhubala’ translated as ‘drama queen’ and ‘Karan Arjun’ translated as ‘Beavis and Butthead’.     

Best of all is that alcohol features in almost every scene, although Indians still do not appear to know how to hold a wine glass properly.

Go see: smile and weep! And how could you not like a film which features ‘Trinidad’ as one of its hot hero’s dream travel destinations?

- Anil Sinanan

Dr Anil Sinanan (Born and raised in sunny Trinidad) is a legal expert and Bollywood buff.  Catch him on the Nikki Bedi Show on BBC London, dissecting the latest Bollywood and Hollywood releases, ever Friday 10 pm.

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