Sunday, February 3, 2008

Yahaan .. "Som ewhere in between"

I was a kid, in Std 5th when I first time saw Maniratnam’s Roja. Greatly moved by the movie, I always wanted to be like Roja, the heroine in the film, who fights for the cuase to rescue her husnabd from the militants. Being a all time favorite of mine, Roja still remains as fresh as the first drop of rain in my mind’s frame. Based upon jeehadi, the cause of love and the issue of Kashmir, Roja was well set in the mind’s frame of every Indian by 1992 and after a gap 15 years came another Roja, with a slight change in the storyline and a more confined approach. Comparing both the movies, the feel is of course different. Roja well acclaimed while Yahaan not so accepted. Yesterday I watched Yahaan for the first time and the movie left a open page in the life’s book getting imprinted in my brain cells.

Gone were the days when Bollywood actor Shammi Kapoor used to sing, frolic and dance in Kashmir, singing “Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe..”. The fact has been for past 55years, since independence the land of heaven, “the wadi” is terrified in the clouds of terrors .Now the Kashmiris live in fear and death visits them every day. On one hand they have the terrorists, who want an independent Kashmir, free from any interference from India and Pakistan; And on the other hand they have the soldiers from the Indian Armed Forces, who terrorize them into releasing any information they may or not have of any terrorist activity. Amidst this live Islamic Adaa and her family. She falls in love with Captain Aman of the Indian Army, a Hindu. They want to get married, but there are complications. It is said that you can get away with a lot of things in Kashmir - but when you marry someone from a different religion - you commit the biggest crime on Earth. Especially if you are young woman named Adaa - who has a brother named Shakeel Ahmed - a wanted terrorist.

Beautiful, well-made films are often ignored by the industry and public at large. Amongst the many such ignored films, Yahaan got listed. Debutante director Shoojit Sircar gives us a love story with intelligence and emotions, boldly defying norms to make a film that is surely one of the best pictures of the year. Stars Jimmy Shergill and newcomer Minissha Lamba are impressive in extraordinary performances. Sircar succeeds in doing what Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Khalid Mohommad fell woefully short of with Mission Kashmir and Fizaa - he makes no compromises in his script and avoids pitfalls and cliches of the genre.

Well-shot and intelligently mounted, Yahaan is not only a pleasant surprise, but a milestone in historically fictional films involving the conflict in Kashmir. Though the film revolves around a love story between a Hindu army officer and Muslim Kashmiri girl in contemporary strife-torn Srinagar, religious conflicts take are thankfully relegated completely to the background. The film instead chooses to embrace the universal theme of a desire for peace and a return to the near-paradise Kashmir once was. There are no frothing fundamentalist politicians and stereotypically fanatical Indians and Pakistanis. More apparent is the suffering of the Kashmiri people as a whole. The film brings to light the aching pain of the citizens of Kashmir and a universal desire to escape from the terror and pain of their daily lives.. A well composed Hindi movie released on July 29, 2005, focused on a very potent issue. Though Yahaan didn't manage big business mainly because of being slotted among much bigger summer releases, but critics praised the film for being warm and intimate. Adda’s role by the protagonist performance was considered one of the film's highlights.

The story is simple - Adaa (Minissha Lamba) is a Kashmiri girl torn between her army officer lover Aman (Jimmy Shergill - finally in a lead role and excellent at that) and her jehaadi insurgent brother Shakeel (Yashpal Sharma). Trouble ensues when Aman´s superiors come to know his involvement with the sister of a terrorist and implicate him as an accomplice. Thus, Adaa begins a valiant attempt to save her lover from the perils of a court-martial and Shakeel is torn between his former family’s happiness and safety and his own jehaadi cause
The performances in the film are excellent and award-worthy. Finally, Jimmy Shergill finds a lead role worthy of him after many missteps and supporting roles. Shergill has always been a superb performer and ever-dependable in his supporting performances. With Yahaan, he shows his acting chops and his ability to carry a film as a lead. His wonderful performance is bound to get noticed and will most definately lead to further successes, propelling him into the upper echlon of stars. He is charismatic and especially strong in his emotional scenes, a sure-fire contender come awards time. Yashpal Sharma adds a touch of humanity to what might have otherwise been a cliched terrorist role. His anguish concerning his sister is touching and poignant. A strong performance from an otherwise serviceable actor, he comes into his own with his work in Yahaan. Special mention must go to child-actress Juhi, who plays Siri, a mute orphan with permanent circles under her sad eyes from constant crying. The little girl is heartbreaking as she realizes she´s orphaned again after a bomb blast in her foster home.
Love stories set in Kashmir valley are rare to see in Bollywood. Shoojit Sircar, the famous ad filmmaker, has without doubt chosen an interesting subject for his debut feature film Yahaan .
The movie, set in the beautiful Kashmir valley, has Jimmy Shergill playing an idealistic army captain and newcomer Minissha Lamba a Kashmiri Muslim girl.Aman (Jimmy) is an idealistic army captain posted in Kashmir. During one of his patrols in the backwaters of one of Kashmir’s lakes, he comes across Adaa (Minissha), a beautiful local girl.

Emotions are stirred at the very first sight only, but not a word spoken. Destiny brings them together again and in no time love sprouts and blossoms. But this is the love that no one in the valley would accept. By an unwritten diktat, the girls in the valley are debarred from have any relationship with ‘outsiders’, particularly if they happen to be army guys.
But Adaa and Aman defy this diktat and face disapproval from Adaa’s family and from local community, apart from threats from militants.What follows tests their love. It tests Aman’s idealism and Adaa’s belief in the good. There is an attack on the family, a court martial, a militant deep-rooted in his fundamentalist ideas, a peace-loving freedom fighter, a near-death experience, a hostage situation and the nation challenged.Director Shoojit Sircar treads the middle path in telling his story – neither he toes the commercial line, nor does he make his movie look like an art flick, something with a strong element of realism.
The album begins with the instantly loveable "Poochhe Jo Koi" which is arguably the most beautiful love song of the year sung by Shaan and Shreya, The bubbly and catchy "Urzu Urzu Durkut" is an amazing blend of Gulzar's lyrical bliss with a haunting chorus line, chirpily rendered by Shreya Ghoshal. "Mele Chaliyan" by Shreya Ghoshal...And not to forget the song featuring the sparkling romance of the two protagonists, “ Naam Ada Likhna”.

Yahaan lies somewhere in between. The hand-held camera and its ensuing effect on the large screen lends the movie a documentary touch – something like a journalistic account – while the songs and colorful dresses, provide the dreamy, fictitious element.
The ambiance of the film is gritty and realistic, having been shot with a permanent dull blue-gray tint. The effect is the emphasis of the plight of the state and it´s citizens. There is a permanent atmosphere of gloom over the proceedings, even during the tender sequences between Adaa and Aman. The dialogues are well-penned and a suitably sweeping love score remeniscent of John Barry and Hollywood (unfortunately not offered on the soundtrack) help involve the viewer. Shantanu Moitra´s music is likeable as well, with "Naam Adaa Likhna" as a soft highlight. All in all, Sircar combines gritty realism with a sweeping, emotionally-involving love story with striking effects- Yahaan is moving and original.

In one statement, a worth watching movie with a clear cleansed message of peace, brotherhood and realism. A movie to be remembered once seen… like ROJA.