June 2, 2022
Toward the end of the Hindi film Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Kabir “Bunny” Thapar (Ranbir Kapoor) and Naina Talwar (Deepika Padukone) are touring Udaipur. They’ve been out since the morning and are tired. But Bunny wants to see the evening light and sound show, and Naina wants to sit and enjoy the sunset. “Life mein kuch na kuch toh chhutega hi. Toh jahan hai wahi ka maza lete hai na?” Naina points out. You’ll likely miss something in life. So wherever we are, let’s enjoy it. That is one of the many thought-provoking questions Yeh Jawaani asked its audiences: is it better to experience it all or to appreciate the familiar?
When Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani(YJHD)came out, a lot was riding on it. It was the second movie from young writer-director Ayan Mukerji after Wake Up Sid! He had the audacity to ask actors Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor to work together on-screen after a very messy and public breakup. The film was to release on a non-festival date on May 31, 2013, when there was no Eid, Diwali, or Christmas to buoy audiences’ interest for a big theatrical opening. What’s more, from the trailer, the film seemed to be about a hiking trip and a wedding all rolled into one with a murky storyline (was this about celebrating youth? a wedding? Manali tourism?). In many ways, the film wasn’t set up to be the success it was, earning over $50 million (or over ₹300 crores, which was very rare at the time) on a roughly $7 million budget.
When I first watched YJHD in my 20s, I hated it. The friends break out into “Jumma Chumma De De” for no reason, Deepika inexplicably wears mini-skirts while trekking in the snow, and the majority of the runtime is dedicated to a neverending wedding celebration with a rehearsal dinner, sangeet, haldi, and some sort of acoustic guitar night before the main affair. The nerd glow-up storyline rubbed me the wrong way, where Naina stops wearing glasses and becomes instantaneously attractive. This movie is terrible, I thought. But, during the pandemic, I found myself giving it another chance and realizing I had got it all wrong. The film had grown on me — not just because of the times we now live in, but also because I, too, had changed. And, for that alone, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a classic.