Yamla Pagla Deewana is, more or less, modeled on Bollywood’s age-old lost-and-found formula where a son is separated from his father in childhood. But for a pleasant change, the father and son do not have to wait till the climax and rather reunite within the first 15 minutes of the film. After that they remain together in almost every other frame of the film and (joined by the younger son) share great combined chemistry.
The film starts in a Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Ghum mode though with a ‘disjoint’ family setting. Canada based Paramveer (Sunny Deol) is estranged from his father Dharam (Dharmendra) and brother Gajodhar (Bobby Deol). When he gets a cue that they are in India, the banker comes on an extended break to Banaras in their pursuit ala SRK of Main Hoon Na . Without beating around the bush for a split second, the first person he meets in his motherland is his father and brother. While one doesn’t mind the convenient and coincidental reunion as it gives way for early camaraderie between characters, a lackadaisical love story only delays the excitement in store.
By the time Gajodhar lures ladylove Saheba (Kulraj Randhawa), he is already separated from her. Paramveer decides to help him out. The story traces a DDLJ -meets- Haseena Maan Jayegi path as the brothers pose as prospective grooms for Saheba in the Punjab hinterlands. Saheba’s band-of-brothers (headed by Anupam Kher) opt for the elder brother over the younger as the bridegroom. As everyone from Dharam to Paramveer’s Canadian wife (Emma Brown) come into the scene, a comedy of error ensues.
Pretty much like the three Deols are given their individual trademark dance steps in the title track of the film, director Samir Karnik assigns each one to do what they are good at. So Dharmendra tickles your funny bone, Sunny breaks bones and Bobby makes no bones about playing the lover-boy.
The romance track in the first half is uninspiring and unconvincing and only slackens the pace. But the graph of the narrative soars in the second half as Saheba’s Sardar siblings come into picture. While they are conventionally characterized as a bunch of authoritative and English illiterate countrymen, their antics and episodes are hilarious enough to keep you engrossed. Thankfully there are no sermons on sanskaar and culture of the country.
The humour is fortunately not slapstick and the gags vary from hilarious to humdrum. Instances like Sunny Deol’s drunken stupor and its aftereffects have a sidesplitting effect while another where Dharmendra takes Bobby’s proposal to the heroine (supposed spoof on a similar scene from Sholay ) falls flat. A short scene where Sunny hijacks an elevator makes no sense. Then again Sunny’s exaggerated action sequences are senseless yet spoofy. The dialogues are as inconsistently comical as the screenplay.
The separation of the father-son is never ever detailed through a flashback account and remains restricted to just a verbal mention. That dilutes the lost-and-found formula to an extent. The mother accidentally talking to her younger son on phone in the climax is evidently a Manmohan Desai moment. A folk story account on some Mirza-Saheba adds no dimension to the storytelling.
Music clearly is the weakest link of the film with as many as half a dozen composers spoiling the broth. Other than the title track revived from the yesteryear film Pratigya , each and every song is absolutely lackluster. Cinematography is decent while action is intentionally larger-than-life. Editing could have been crisper.
The film clearly belongs to Sunny Deol who despite underplaying himself, delivers punches – both combative and comic, with perfection. Bobby Deol has a fresh appeal to his character and exudes enormous energy in his performance. Dharmendra resorts to buffoonery and occasionally looks jaded. But it’s a treat to watch him perform with his sons. Kulraj Randhawa is charming but lacks screen presence. Sucheta Khanna as her Canada-loving cousin is exceptionally hilarious. Anupam Kher makes you laugh with his impeccable comic timing. Mukul Dev gets the best one-liners. Amit Mistry is funny.
Yamla Pagla Deewana employs formula but doesn’t get formulaic. It has action and comedy but doesn’t get slapstick. It brings together the Deols but not without a story. This one is an entertainer and not without a reason.
This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.
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