Cast: Jackky Bhagnani, Neha Sharma, Farouque Sheikh
Director: Syed Ahmed Afzal
Rating: 3 stars
The title is catchy, the supporting cast rock solid, but when a film has Jackky Bhagnani as the leading man, it doesn’t allow itself to be taken too seriously, at least not on paper. But Youngistaan manages to break many moulds. A political drama, lightly peppered with romance, the film indulges in a political ideal — something our country has been hoping to achieve with every new leader sworn in, and one that we seem to be dangerously drifting away from. In a premise like this, it’s easy to get caught in a web of monotony and melodrama — political or otherwise. But thanks to a good script, well-paced screenplay and author-backed performances from appropriately cast actors, Youngistaan makes itself a watchable fare.
Jackky is suitably cast as the central protagonist, Abhimanyu Kaul, who is made the Prime Minister of a country overnight, after the demise of his father, the former PM. The story traces Abhimanyu’s transformation from a carefree game developer living in Tokyo with his girlfriend (Neha Sharma) to the youngest ruler of the world’s largest democracy. Initially dismissed as the “good boy Prime Minister”, he gradually learns the ropes of politics well enough to throw curve balls at veterans in the game. The scene where the young PM is flummoxed about how pictures of his girlfriend are getting deleted from his Facebook account is funny and telling at the same time. While the story is hinged on a political utopia, it raises some worthwhile questions such as should someone’s private life colour our perception of them as a leader. Also, even though we are the youngest population, how young are we in our thinking. One of the core conflicts of the film is a personal one where the young PM has to constantly fight the taboo situation of living in with his girlfriend.
Under debutant writer, director Syed Ahmad Afzal’s able guidance, Jackky manages to deliver his most mature performance till date. Sure, he has miles to go, but Youngistaan is the big step he needed. A special mention for the late Farouque Sheikh who made his last appearance on celluloid, and as usual, made it count. He’s effortless as the personal assistant to the PM, his twinkle-eyed wisdom making the narrative all the more engaging. His scenes with Jackky are not exactly laden with emotion but stay with you because of their simplicity. Neha Sharma makes for an apt overbearing and sometimes clingy girlfriend who has a hard time coming to terms with her boyfriend’s new occupation as the PM of the country. The production value and cinematography is impressive and Jeet Ganguly’s score is catchy.
The political issues highlighted in the film are real and the conclusions offered most times filmi. The film also lacks shades of grey and hence as a political drama, remains somewhat unconvincing. However, with the election fever in the country spreading faster than the plague, a film on a political ideal couldn’t be better timed. It’s an escape but a relevant one....