Deepti Naval, essaying walk-on mom to the hero’s childhood chum who has gone away to Australia to earn the kind of dough that can help his mother quit being a girls’ hostel warden, is in tears virtually all through Yaariyan. It is easy to see why.
Debutante director Divya Khosla Kumar thinks nothing of reducing this veteran epitome of on-screen restraint to bawling, howling, sobbing and sniffling.
That is exactly how the audience is likely to feel like as they watch this pea-brained college campus rumpus that stutters and splutters all the way through to a hopelessly bizarre climax.
Yaariyan seeks to pass off the most putrid and regressive ideas as representative of the thoughts and aspirations of Generation X.
It is pretty apparent that the makers believe that their work is outrageously funny. Well, it is outrageous all right. It certainly isn’t funny for those at the receiving end.
Yaariyan isn’t exactly a boy-meets-girl story. It is more the tale of a Plain Jane daughter of a retired school teacher, Saloni (Rakul Preet Singh), who trips, stumbles and falls all over over-eager boy and sparks severe hormonal turmoil within the latter.
Much din is generated in the process – most of it hinges on the frisky male protagonist, Lakshya (newcomer Himansh Kohli), clashing with his war widow-mother (Smita Jayakar) and on the guy’s desperate yet abortive attempts to secure the first kiss of his life.
It is a tale in which all that the boys on the campus seem to be interested in is gawking at everything in skirts and looking for a miss to plant a kiss on.
Many serious mishaps are triggered in the bargain, but the students just cannot keep their hands off each other. Neither can the teachers.
When the action relocates to Australia, Lakshya, true to form, homes in on a half-Indian Sydney girl, Janet (Evelyn Sharma), who is as dim-witted as the rest.
The camera seems to be fixated on female derriere and décolletage, and every other sequence in Yaariyan has someone or the other falling headlong all over someone or the other and going unabashedly into touchy-feely mode.
Calling Yaariyan silly would be the understatement of the year. It is mind-numbingly idiotic.
It is the sort of film that makes Student of the Year look like Au Revoir les Enfants.
The cast is composed of a cluster of fresh faces, a couple of them rather promising at that, and yet newness is the last thing that Yaariyan exudes.
Supposedly set in Sikkim, Yaariyan has little space for authentic faces and places of the state, playing out mostly on locations that do not remotely look like Sikkim.
Still interested in the story? A college up in the hills is threatened with extinction after an Australian tycoon buys the land on which it stands. He plans to build a resort there.
For a lark, the new owner gives the college principal Jim Martin (Gulshan Grover) an ultimatum: take on the Australians in a sports-and-culture competition and win, or make way.
The principal picks five students, including predictably the lead pair, to represent India in the make or break contest. For good measure, he gives them a pep talk about keeping the tricolor flying.
Rock music, chess, mobike and bicycle races and mountain climbing are the disciplines chosen.
In the climax of Yaariyan, the male lead ends up first atop a mountain peak and then on the college spire, but the film only hurtles downhill until it hits rock bottom.
The acting is generally pretty pedestrian although Rakul Preet Singh, playing the “bloody behenji” who turns the tables on everybody, does look like a talent who has a future.
She is pretty, and has a large and expressive pair of eyes. Although here she isn’t allowed to come into her own until the second half, she could go places.
Himansh Kohli, on his part, possesses oodles of boyish charm but clearly needs to brush up on his acting skills.
The grin that is permanently plastered on his face is rather distracting. But, then, there is little in this film that the audience might want to focus on.
What can one say of a film that makes Deepti Naval deliver a line as corny as “Jeetney ke liye taaqat nahin chahiye; Hitler haar gaya thha, Gandhiji jeet gaye thhey”. Squirm, squirm!
Yaariyan talks about a whole lot of other things – friendship, trust, patriotism, race attacks and tolerance – but makes no sense at all.
It would make perfect sense to give this film a miss.