Taking its title from the infectious Kishore Kumar song, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is an engaging portrait of the high-spirited shenanigans of youth, with all its misadventures, first loves, loss and heartbreak.
Footloose and fancy-free Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) yearns to see the world and suck the very marrow out of life. Best friend Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) is a feisty live-wire, in love with the unavailable Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur), who is consumed by alcohol and vague money-making ideas. "Scholar Naina" (Deepika Padukone) a bookish, medical student yearning for adventure, joins them on a trek to Manaali and on the journey, discovers love and a new way of living. Eight years on and they are reunited in Udaipur for their best friend's wedding and must come face-to-face with who they have become and all they have lost on the way.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is an all-out commercial venture with all the traditional elements of Indian cinema that contribute to making it an inevitable box office success. There's stars of the moment, Ranbir and Deepika portraying familiar, stock characters; a glossy Karan Johar influenced veneer on a poignant love story, complete with a big fat Indian wedding; beautifully shot snow-capped mountains; foot-thumping song and dance numbers that will compel you to bust your best Bollywood moves and old hands Madhuri Dixit and the inimitable Farooq Shaikh momentarily stealing everyone's thunder.
What sets this film apart from the usual rom-com is the evident tenderness in the exploration of each of the relationships that results in poignant moments, revealing the deeper truth of our relationships with our parents, our friends and those we love forever.
The casting of former partners Padukone and Kapoor is something of a masterstroke and adds an element of intrigue into the intricacies of their real-life relationship. When the chemistry is this good and the comfort level is so apparent, you wish reel life would translate as real life for the intensely likeable pair... phir se.
Ultimately though, along with all the fun of the general tomfoolery, it's the natural interplay between all the characters underneath the slightly meandering, over-long story that keeps you engaged.
Padukone and Kapoor's ping-pong retorts about their life choices sparkle with wit and ingenuity. The underplayed scenes between Farooq Shaikh and Kapoor are particularly evocative and you wish for more. Roy Kapoor and Ranbir's boyish banter, girly fist-fights and the unique ability to reconcile again in an instant, speak volumes of the bond between boys, while Kalki and Kapoor's interactions reveal the support and trust that make the bond of friendship unbreakable. Koechlin's exuberance is infectious and you wish for a friend just like her.
The common factor though, is Kapoor, who behind the globe-trotting flirtatious boy with the moves like Shammi, reveals the depth of character in Bunny and a deeper, sensitive core that makes him a man. If you hadn't already fallen in love with Ranbir in Barfi! you are sure to fall in love with him in his modern incarnation as Bunny.
This is not the path-breaking cinema that Kapoor is increasingly known for, but it doesn't have any aspirations to be. It's a fun, breezy window on the world of first loves and heartbreaks and the soul-searching of our youth that leads us to discovering ourselves and realising it's not the mountains we climb, but who we climb them with that matters.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani should be a mantra for us all.