Yaara movie review: Tigmanshu Dhulia’s film on friendship is strangely devoid of feeling

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Somewhere around the halfway mark of Yaara, Vidyut Jammwal and Shruti Haasan narrowly escape what could have been a fatal encounter and manage to cross over into a Naxal-liberated village. Two minutes after this scene, there is an elaborate song sequence featuring Shruti in flowy designer gowns and a nearly shirtless Vidyut giving an eyeful of his perfectly sculpted abs. Much like this strange transition, Yaara tries to hold too many balls in the air, only to drop them all.

If Tigmanshu Dhulia’s earlier films – Paan Singh Tomar, Haasil and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster – were to be used as a yardstick, Yaara is a colossal disappointment. The film, a remake of the French film A Gang Story (Les Lyonnais), tells the story of the ‘chaukdi gang’ – four orphans who rise through the ranks in the world of crime through smuggling, bootlegging and arms trafficking. Despite leaving a trail of bodies as they go about their business, they conveniently slip under the police radar, until they get mixed up with leftist rebels.

Of the four men – Phagun (Vidyut Jammwal), Mitwa (Amit Sadh), Rizwan (Vijay Varma) and Bahadur (Kenny Basumatary) – we are briefly told the backstory of how Phagun and Mitwa were orphaned. Rizwan is the Casanova who has an Amitabh Bachchan dialogue for every situation. Bahadur is given the short shrift; the only takeaway from his character is that he is from Nepal. He is neither given any backstory or traits, and his presence feels like tokenism.

The same cursory treatment is given to mentions of caste atrocities, the Naxal movement, sexual violence and corruption in the system. With Tigmanshu barely skimming the surface, neither the characters nor the situations leave a lasting impression.

Also see | Yaara trailer: Vidyut Jammwal and Amit Sadh’s crime drama is a tale of friendship through the ages

With the entry of Sukanya (Shruti Haasan), the gang starts gun-running for leftist rebels, which ends with each of them getting jail terms. Phagun, Rizwan and Bahadur give up the life of crime side and become businessmen, while Mitwa disappears, only to return years later and turn his friends’ lives upside down.

The patchy screenplay and wafer-thin characterisation do not give the actors much scope to shine. ‘Top action star in the world’ Vidyut gets the lion’s share of the fight sequences and seems to be more at home in these than any scene where he is required to emote. For a film that has friendship at its core, it is strangely devoid of feeling. When characters die, the pain is never visceral.

Jumping between the past and present — the film straddles almost five decades, Yaara leads up to a finale that’s all too predictable. It lacks verve and is too sprawling to hold interest and attention till the end.

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