Youngistaan - Review

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
quick review:

I hope young India's vision is not as shallow, superficial or short-sighted.

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Wogma Review

Some films just bother you at a conceptual level. Youngistaan claims to represent the youth and I shudder at the thought of the youth - you and I - being so shallow and superficial in our approach to problems at the national level.

What do I want from my representative in the government? Only my lookout? Only whether my point of view has been represented? I don't think so. I want what is generally good for the society as a whole. But, Youngistaan has created a Prime Minister who thinks his way is the way to go.

I consider myself pretty liberal so, I don't really care about my Prime Minister's girlfriend problems or daddy issues. Everyone has them, he is human, he is allowed to have them too. Am I okay with him having a live-in relationship? Now, my liberalism is being put to test. I am okay with friends, but a role model. Hey, wait! In a film about the future of the country, why am I even asking this question?

Fine, Youngistaan doesn't talk about just this issue. From the huge ocean of politics the two and a quarter topics they pick are change in calculation of rate of interest on loans for a particular range of people, a scam of some sort, and a quarter of a nod at farmer suicides.

The accountant in me couldn't resist laughing at the implications of the interest rate change that our PM Abhimanyu Kaul (Jackky Bhagnani). The build up of the scam led to something so standard (I know, it's sad that there is something like a standard scam) that you wonder what the big issue was. The look of surprise when it is mentioned to our PM that agriculture is our main sector, is actually insulting. His superficial solution, makes you feel worse.

Then you consider for a moment if Youngistaan is a story of a 28 year old boy who is emotionally blackmailed into becoming the prime minister of the country. But it doesn't work that way either. It loses that battle at its name itself, right? It wants to represent the youth. It is not an individual's story yet it spends too much time on the love life of that individual while trying to deal with national crises via some jingoism, of course.

A storyline with such a premise would be a difficult sell even with the best actors at your disposal. Jackky Bhagnani does come across as sincere. But there is so little time spent on writing a character that is so important, that like I said, I doubt any other actor could've helped. Same goes for Neha Sharma who's supposedly the supportive girlfriend. Again, such a wonderful chance of writing a layered character wasted. A similar waste of talent is Farouque Shaikh. May his soul rest in peace.

Sure, there is an attempt at trying something new. It feel flat on its face, but at least they tried. Oh well.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None, but pre-marital sex and pregnancy is one of the main issues focused on.
  • Concept: When a youngster picks up the reins of the country.
  • General Look and Feel: Pretty run-of-the-mill. Nothing that shouts at you, which is a good thing. Serious atmosphere too, though there are feeble attempts at making the atmosphere light.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 1
  • Story: 1.5
  • Lead Actors: 2
  • Character Artists: 2.5
  • Dialogues: 1.5
  • Screenplay: 1
  • Music Director: 0.5
  • Lyrics: 1.5

Youngistaan - Movie Details

Youngistaan - Trailer

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Comments (10)

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TimELiebe:

So is he hyperverbal, spewing out talking points and Gilbert&Sullivan; - er, Classic Bollywood references at a mile a minute, Meetu?

Are the Old Guard a bunch of reactionary meanypants who not-so-secretly plot to dethrone him, and replace him with their puppet?

And the media consists of a bunch of belligerent blowhards?

Is the writer's name "Aaron Sorkin", by any chance?

Have to say, this sounds like a Can't Wait to Miss for Us Americans, Meetu.

TimELiebe:

::Am I okay with him having a live-in relationship? Now, my liberalism is being put to test. I am okay with friends, but a role model.::

Honestly, Meetu - I don't see "living together" as something I'd judge a leader "role model"-iness on. Stealing from the public till? Taking kickbacks from Big Corrupt Corporate Types? Instituting a police state or supporting torture and police brutality? Being a hypocrite about extramarital/premarital sex, pornography, gay rights or recreational drug use - or whatever similar social issues are being fought in India? That is what I consider a "bad role model".

Maybe it's because Tammy and I lived together for over three years before we got married (and because I live in the West as well), but if a young politician who's not running on a "public morality" platform lives with his girlfriend I'm not going to be too bothered by it.

meetu:

@TimELiebe No Bollywood references, thankfully! Old guard try to make him the puppet and fall flat too quickly and easily :P. More "House of Cards" than "West Wing", but that is giving it a huge compliment. Its neither that dark, intense or grim.

Oh and I absolutely love Aaron Sorkin's writing. :D

Yeah, I just said, I'm not sure. If he's doing all the right things for the community at large, right, I don't really care how murky his personal life is.

TimELiebe:

US or UK HOUSE OF CARDS, Meetu? UK is a brilliant bit of corrosive satire - US is a bit heavy-handed for this American. I would love to see an Indian version of the UK HoC….

::Imagines Amitabh Bachchan as the charmingly corrupt politician, smiles happily….::

It sounds kind of like, well, it might be a bit Inside Baseball to a non-desi audience - or is it accessible enough that a couple Americans might watch it and get what they're talking about?

meetu:

US one. Is it heavy handed? I shudder at the thought of Indian TV, sorry.

TimELiebe:

@Meetu - I think it is compared to the UK version, but not everybody agrees with me. It's gotten a lot of very positive reviews, but I find the Southern Fried performances of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright too put-on, and the villainy so obvious I'm amazed he's gotten as far as he has.

I haven't seen Indian television - but if it's anything like typical American television (not those brilliant shows you hear about online, but your typical shows like CASTLE, THE BLACKLIST or NCIS), I don't blame you for shuddering!

TimELiebe:

PS: Watch the UK version of HOUSE OF CARDS if you can get it - the late Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart is Shakespearean in his charismatic villainy. :)

Speaking of Shakespeare - our friend Bruce Coville heard about an Indian version of MACBETH, MAQBOOL, starring Irfan Khan. We bought the DVD and are going to give it a try Sunday night - since we've really liked the mix of India and Shakespeare we've seen so far, LIKE OMKARA and the Shakespeare-feeling EKLAVYA, THE ROYAL GUARD.

meetu:

@TimELiebe oh Maqbook is excellent! Hope you all enjoy it.

TimELiebe:

::@TimELiebe oh Maqbook is excellent! Hope you all enjoy it.::

We watched it two weeks ago, Meetu. A bit sluggish in spots (I nodded a few times, despite the shortish running time - we've become so used to Indian film lengths that if a film's shorter than two hours we're immediately suspicious! :D ), but Irrfan Khan and Tabu are great at the Indian versions of Lord and Lady MacBeth, and I felt the movie did a better job of clarifying their relationship than most versions of MACBETH I've seen. And Om Puri and Naseerruddin Shah as Corrupt Cops/Soothsayers were a welcome twist-up on The Three Weird Sisters. And even though IMDB says Gyanchand Rikki (ACP Mughal) was only in this film as an actor, I'd swear I've seen him a number of times, usually playing humorless cops or gangsters....

I'm a bit grumpy that they went with "Organized Crime As Modern Metaphor For Shakespearean Nobility" trope (how many times have I seen that in both our countries?), rather than making them contemporary Indian royalty akin to in EKLAVYA: THE ROYAL GUARD. But mostly - we liked it a lot. Even Tammy, who's normally bored by Shakespeare, enjoyed it. :)

meetu:

@TimELiebe Points well made! I'm glad you all enjoyed it :D

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