Suppose you brought back some blue, moldy cheese from France, which in its stinking fulsomeness, fetched you many suspicious and angry glances through the flight. You have been brought up on paneer, fresh cottage cheese, white and tasteless. Back home, the journey between fridge and dining table is too daunting for the cheese. The tropics encourage more blue and more mold. After some time, you are not sure where the original blue and mold ends, and where the new one begins. Is this stink because the cheese is off, or is the off-ness the glory of the cheese itself?
Such is ‘Yaadein‘. It’s never quite certain whether the director (Subhash Ghai) is on medication/going through a personal crisis/or just absent from the set? Or is this the intended flavor of the film? Or flavors.
There is Jackie Shroff. He is not quite sure why he has been chosen to play the father of 3 girls, as he would much rather have been romancing them. To hell with the bad wig. Afraid of making inappropriate gestures towards the 3 girls, he spends an inordinate amount of time talking to his dead wife (Rati Agnihotri) who smiles from a large portrait painting, a large photograph, or hovers around in spirit form. Needing someone to touch, Raj spends the rest of his time hugging Ronit (Hrithik Roshan). Raj and Ronit do a lot of running towards each other with open arms and hugging. Everyone else in the film almost always talk of Raj and Ronit in the same breath, and sometimes even confuse one for the other, in the way they refer to them.
Ronit looks on Uncle Raj as his father, and the dead wife as his mother, largely ignoring his real parents who sent him away to boarding school. The parents however are quite magnanimous in letting Raj take the onus of parenting Ronit. The 3 girls are not sure whether Ronit is their brother, one girl when little has definitely tied him a rakhi, but Eesha (Kareena Kapoor) in her flirty way makes sure that ‘All Indians are NOT my brothers and sisters.’
Ronit’s mother decides that her role is not meaty enough for her, so she decides to adopt a strange sing-song which is neither British nor Gujarati and certainly not Punjabi living in London. Kareena does pouting. Hrithik does melting eyes and face. Girl 2 does more pouting than Kareena, and sulking, even when she is marrying the man of her dreams. Girl 3 gives up and is given up quickly in marriage. Amrish Puri plays bad rich man, who insults poor people. A rich girl wears a tikka (head ornament) with a western gown, and insults poor people. Rich girl’s father necks a white woman, rich girl’s mother sidles up to a younger man, all in the same room. Oh, the depravity of an upper class London party!
A strange man peeps over the gate once and Jackie Shroff shoos him away, and that is the last we see of him. A lot of junior artistes hover around in most scenes, presumably paid for the day, but behaving like onlookers, bobbing around on the fringes of the frame without action. They all seem like random spirits.
These random spirits mysteriously disappear when the 3 girls cavort around a large farmhouse in India in towels and satin sheets. The farmhouse is full of plastic flowers, in vases, on tables, on walls and planted in lawns. The plastic flowers certainly save on water and labour.
Jackie has moved with his 3 girls to India, after Girl 2 threatened him with the police, when he scolded her for partying until 3 am, and drinking wine in London. In India he can presumably keep the girls protected, without police interference. It does not help because bad boy from London follows Girl 2 to India.
There is also Udaipur, Delhi, Malaysia and some island somewhere in the film. The same set of people meet after every alternate scene in a different part of the world. Their flight tickets alone could have sponsored my next film.
In Malaysia, there is a crocodile. (It is uncertain where). The crocodile has his mouth open. Kareena screams. (It is uncertain where.) Hrithik and his guitar are chatting with a white girl on the mainland. (It is uncertain where.) The crocodile has his mouth open. Kareena screams, A friend tells Hrithik that Kareena is in danger. The crocodile has his mouth open. Kareena throws her cotton jacket at it. Crocodile runs away. Hrithik finds Kareena unconscious on the top of a tree. (It is uncertain how she reached there. Did she climb the tree and then faint? Or did she climb the tree after she became unconscious?) He tows her boat across a lake or an ocean, for hours. (It is uncertain where. It is also uncertain how he brought her down from the tree, while she remained unconscious.) She remains unconscious. She wakes up the next day in her hospital bed with a nice summery dress to learn that Hrithik put his life in danger to save her.
Mrinal Sen writes in his memoirs, ‘Always Being Born’, that a friend, someone he admired, said to him about one of his earlier films, ‘Baishey Shravana‘ (1960), “It was elliptical”. Mrinal Sen went back home to look up the meaning of the word in his dictionary. I wonder what Mrinal Sen would think of the crocodile scene. It needs to be studied by all film students as a lesson in how action can be disposed of in a few shots, to reach the point of the scene, which is of course, Kareena waking up in the hospital bed in a nice summery dress and realizing she loves Hrithik.
Dhanno and I were however not watching ‘Yaadein’ for film lessons. We came to it via a crush watching Hrithik dance in ‘Bang Bang’ (Siddharth Anand, 2014) and crying through most of ‘Lakshya’ (Farhan Akhtar, 2004)
Watch ‘Yaadein’ with a companion or two, who will giggle incessantly along with you, and make loud exclamatory remarks. You don’t even need wine to go with this cheese. Anyway, as we all know, wine is for Bad Girls.
As for screen shots, let this be enough.