Why are Hindi (and most Indian) commercial filmmakers obsessed with making a three-hour-long film? I have seen several films lately that really aren’t half bad but are one hour too long! Take Mani Ratnam’s Yuva, the Hindi version of his Tamil venture, Aayudha Yezhuthu (yet to be released). It could have been quite good. The film is apparently inspired by Amores Perros, but apart from the Reservoir Dog-style flashbacks, there are hardly any similarities. Still, it could have been good. Ratnam has panache, his characters tend to be more real than in most Hindi films and he seems to actively promote a kind of pan-Indian-ness compared with the rest of northern India (Punjabi?)-obsessed Bollywood. But he has failed with Yuva. Why? He had to have three heroes AND three heroines. He had to have each pair sing a separate frolicking-in-the-rain song. The story is about three guys with different motivations and how their lives intertwine after a shootout on Howrah Bridge. Unfortunately, the third guy, played by Vivek Oberoi, is a completely unnecessary character. He is supposed to be the selfish, happy-go-lucky guy (unlike the other two) until he (inexplicably) decides to change into a socially conscious, politically aware one. Why? No one knows. Worse, he had to be shown (inexplicably) falling in love with the annoying Kareena Kapoor (every time she comes on screen I want to smack her). Bachchan’s and Devgan’s characters would have been enough to set up the story.
So, the film, which starts off quite engagingly with flashbacks of Bachchan’s and Devgan’s lives, loses its way completely with the entrance of Oberoi and that woman, Kareena Kapoor. And all those annoying songs…what’s happened A.R.? We want the old you back! By intermission time only two flashbacks are complete and that’s when I knew I better break out the other nicorette. It was going to be a l o n g evening.