Yuva (2004)

  • Written by Mani Ratnam
  • Directed by Mani Ratnam

   Repeat Value : 9 / 10     

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Yuva - Movie Highlights

That Mani Ratnam is an avant grade film maker is known to one and all. Although predominantly he works in the Tamil Film industry, his films are celebrated across the world. His portfolio includes some of the finest works of Indian Cinema - 'Nayagan', 'Dalapathy', 'Roja', 'Bombay', 'Alai Payuthey', 'Iruvar', 'Dil Se' and 'Guru' etc. And that the box office figures say absolutely nothing about the merit of a movie is a well known fact. And hence it's the fault of Indian audience who haven't matured yet and seek the same thrash every time because some of the proud 100 crore films are the worst of Indian Cinema. The fate of this Mani Ratnam film was also sealed with box office but when we watch it today it is way ahead of its time. 'Yuva' (Youth) and simultaneously shot in Tamil as 'Aaytha Ezhuthu' (Three Dots) is about three youths from different strata of society who form the future of this great nation, India. The plot structure and not the plot is influenced from Oscar-nominated Spanish film 'Amores Perros' which follows the 'hyperlink' structure of connecting different stories with a single incident, also previously used in films of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. This film bears that Mani Ratnam stamp and that's enough for any cinephile to have it in his collection.

Aaytha Ezhuthu is the story of three youngsters - Inba Sekar (Madhavan), Michael Vasanth (Surya Sivakumar) and Arjun Balachandran (Siddharth) who come from vastly different backgrounds and social structure. The film opens with Inba, hired by Minister Selvanayagam to kill Michael, where Arjun, the bystander is the sole witness and saves Michael on time. With this fateful incident on Chennai's Napier Bridge, these three youngsters cross each others path. From this point of time, the story of each of the protagonist unfolds and how they are intertwined by their destinies and what brought them here.

1. Inba is an impetuous, violent small-time thug. He works for his brother Praveen who in turn is working for a slimy, smooth-talking & ever smiling politician Selvanayagam (Bharathiraja). Inba is married to Sasi (Meera Jasmine) but he is violent with her and beats her often but she dotes on him. He shares a love-hate relationship with her. She naively demands to give up his life of crime, but he is very eager to climb the ladder of crime to reach the top spot. And in his fetish for power, he agrees to what Selvanayagam ask him to do, to kill Micheal.

2. Michael is an idealistic youth leader who dreams of a better India being created by the youth power. He lives with his mother who is worried about him as he is growing up like his father who also was an ideologist and died for his cause but his two sisters are proud of him. He is a student union leader who is popular statewide. His brilliance is not only evident while delivering motivational speeches, but also while teaching equations in prison cells whenever he and his followers get arrested. He is in love with his neighbor Geetha (Esha Deol) who teaches French and is the niece of Michael's family doctor. His political ideologies and moves bring him in direct conflict with Selvanayagam.

3. Arjun is a carefree playboy, who has just got his engineering degree and is a son of a retired IAS officer (Anant Nag). He is self-centered, opportunistic, easygoing fellow whose objective is to immigrate to US for a better future because he sees no future in India and is not bothered to contribute to its growth. He falls in love with Meera (Trisha) seeing her first at a nightclub which evolves into a series of meetings. Meera however is getting married to a guy her parents have chosen for her.

Selvanayagam is worried when he hears news of students standing in the election and so to stop Michael's growing influence among the electorate, at first he provides scholarship of a prestigious foreign university to Michael, which Michael refuses. Later when faces very strong retaliation from Michael and his fellow students to his threatening ways, he hires Inba to kill Michael. On the day of the incident, Meera and Arjun get into a quarrel on the road and Meera gets into an auto. Arjun hitches a ride from Michael, who is riding in the same direction, to catch up with Meera. Suddenly, Michael is shot by Inba but Arjun saves him by taking him to the hospital. How Good Triumphs Over Evil? And what all changes happen in the lives of these 03 protagonists forms the crux of the story?

There is lot of junk floating around today in the name of cinema and only a few hand-full of filmmakers have the distinction of bringing quality to it. And Mani Ratnam is one such name and he proves once again that he is a master craftsman. Here he combines the mainstream Tamil film aesthetics with international cinematic sensibilities, thus taking Tamil industry to a different level. He is bold and his narration has a distinctive appeal. The treatment is fresh and the presentation is original. The theme of this movie is universal and has few underlying messages for the society especially the youth. The movie contains the usual Mani Ratnam film trademarks like a fresh narrative structure, stunning cinematography, strong performances, and a splendid soundtrack. Technically, the movie is top-notch. Ravi.K.Chandran's cinematography is spectacular. The colors used for each protagonist reflects their characters and attitude towards life. Sreekar Prasad's editing is deft. Action scenes are superbly choreographed by Vikram Dharma. AR Rahman contributes a terrific soundtrack which is energetic, multi-layered and magical. 'Hey Good Bye Nanba' , 'Jana Gana Mana', 'Dol Dol', 'Yakkai Thiri' and 'Nenjam Ellam' are all good numbers. Also, the film has its own problems like nearly three-fourths of the film just establishes the characters and in the last 30 minutes tries to culminate the story hurriedly. It has a racy first half but second half slows down the film and leaves lot be desired for. The political proceedings also seem too filmy and not real. But for all its problems, Ayutha Ezhuthu is far, far better fare and is a few notches above the average Tamil movie. The movie is certainly worth watching for bringing in a change not just in its theme but also in style of making a commercial movie. Bottom line: Yuva is underrated, so watch the movie with an open mind and you may find it awesome.

Performances here by all are brilliant and everybody holds their own in this gritty drama. Siddharth is cool and at ease in his playboy character. The attitude of this character represents that of the current day's youth. Surya is smashing and has given a finely calibrated performance. His portrayal of Michael is commendable and natural. And the surprise package of the film is Madhavan. His daring decision to play a negative character pays off. He sparkles as an anti-hero and he is simply terrific. He does a splendid job of portraying a power hungry thug who swings quickly from anger to kindness. What are much more interesting about this film are the female characters. Esha Deol in her Tamil debut is lovable. Trisha is fresh and sparkling. Meera Jasmine as Sasi has a meaty role and she pitches in her career best act. She is raw and unglamorous and has given a tremendous performance. Her outbursts at Madhavan and desperate attempts to set his life right deserve a special mention. Also this is easily one of the strongest parts of the film and their chemistry is incredible. Barathiraja's casting is indeed a real surprise and he adds more dignity to an otherwise typical villain of Tamil cinema. As the wily-old street smart politician, he is excellent. Sriman as Madhavan's friend Guna is natural. Others support.

Ayutha Ezhuthu will remain a classic film of Tamil cinema. Do watch it!