With Indian elections just around the corner the premise of having an educated youngster rule the country is an interesting premise. The review of Youngistaan is here. I am hoping that this first comedy-drama with political background might become something to become increasingly crafted in Indian cinema. Do you know of other good examples of this?
There seems to be some political satire elements in Shankar's Mudhalvan/Nayak the Real Hero-both versions are loosely based on the American political comedy "Dave"-but since I've only ever seen the movie unsubbed I can't be sure of the details. I'm in the process of watching the Telugu film Rambabu Cameraman Ganga, which also seems to be going that way. Not sure if the Tere Bin Laden thing qualifies, since it's mostly aimed at American politicians.
I've heard generally good things about Youngistaan, aside from some comments about producer's son Jacky Bhagnani being a bit weak in the lead role. It had a mediocre opening weekend, earning about as much as Dishkiyaoon but on a smaller budget so far as I can tell. Might become a cult classic down the road, I guess, like this movie did in the US: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_In_The_Streets
Firangi with terrible taste in actors, movies, and music. Any commentary is not to be taken seriously.
Youngistaan, directed by Syed Ahmad Afzal, is a political rom-com in the mould of The American President. It has at its centre an endearing what-if. The premise – also reminiscent of Shankar’s Mudhalvan/Nayak – is that of the 28-year old Abhimanyu (Bhagnani) drawn into the chakravyuh of politics when he becomes the nation’s Prime Minister. What if we got a really young leader, who goes gymming in track pants, and what if he had a live-in girlfriend (Anvita, played Neha Sharma)? Can someone from today’s generation, with all those notions of “personal space,” cope with the media’s obsession with public figures? The early portions have a sweet, unhurried feel. As Abhimanyu is sworn in, Anvita weeps in bed, tucking into a tub of Baskin-Robbins ice cream. Slowly, she gets used to the reality that he is the country’s leader first, her boyfriend only later – still, she calls him at work and says she loves him and wants him to say it back, never mind that Abhimanyu is in a meeting with his advisor Akbar (Farooq Shaikh), whose mouth is twitching, suppressing a smile.
Bhagnani and especially Sharma make us care about this couple, who find it increasingly difficult to be the kind of couple they used to be. Among the first things done when Abhimanyu assumes office is the deletion of all his Facebook photos. We feel for them when their privacy is violated. And Farooq Sheikh, in what looks to be his last performance, radiates the kind of avuncular affection that bathes the film with a special warmth.
The problem is that Youngistaan has no teeth. The American President wasn’t exactly the last word in realism, but it got its bite from Aaron Sorkin’s sharp writing, which expertly balanced the political and the personal. (The magnetic central performance by Michael Douglas didn’t hurt either.) Youngistaan, on the other hand, barely generates a sense of conflict. Anvita, after some initial adjustment issues, slips too easily into her new role as the PM’s arm candy, and the mudslinging about their relationship – which could have yielded juicy drama, given that he promised her once that he’d never enter politics – is deflected with a few scenes with moist eyes and there-there dialogue. This couple is too good to be true.
As is the political scenario. There are no scenes of Abhimanyu reading up about the complicated issues that need his signature. He is shown to be a natural, adept at appeasing politicians and wily in his own way. He doesn’t even get a rousing speech to deliver, even when he addresses delegates at the UN headquarters. These situations needed texture, quirk. Still, with elections around the corner, things could be a lot worse than this story about a Prime Minister who inaugurates a hockey tournament not with a boring speech but by scoring a goal. When the reality is so depressing, even okayish fantasy can be a balm.
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