Yuva is perhaps not for all die-hard Mani Ratnam fans. For if you go in expecting the deep, emotionally arresting style of Nayakan, Anjali, Roja,
Bombay, Iruvar, or Kannathil Muthamittal, you will walk out disappointed. Although the film revolves around the emotional texture of its three protagonists, Mr. Ratnam stays away from his signature penchant for making his audiences cry. Leave your handkerchiefs at home this time because Yuva is fiercely violent, rugged, and very stylish.
Kurosawa pioneered the fragmented narrative structure with Rashomon, Tarantino desensitized and humorized it with Pulp Fiction, and IĂ±arittu wove a social exposĂ© with Amores Perros. Ratnam fashions the same structure within the format of mainstream, commercial, Indian cinema, setting it against the backdrop of the youthâ€™s (yuva) involvement in a trivial political configuration.
Rumors often whispered when Yuva was in pre-production that Abhishek Bachchan had initially turned Lallanâ€™s role down. For had that been true, it would have been the biggest mistake of his career. Undoubtedly, his is the meatiest character of the three, and under Ratnamâ€™s direction, he devours it wholeheartedly. Mani Ratnamâ€™s flair for emotive mis-en-scene plays a big hand in uplifting his actorsâ€™ performances. Strongly executed by Sabu Cyrilâ€™s artful production design, a color scheme is assigned to each of the three characters to highlight the nature of their lives: Lallan is placed in an apartment with red walls and Ravi K. Chandran lights his story with a like scheme to highlight the blood, gore, and violence that rules his life. His scenes are shot hand-held with quick cuts. Similarly, Michaelâ€™s color is green (to highlight his growth), and Arjunâ€™s is blue (relative serenity), both shot in a very stylized manner.
However, Yuvaâ€™s main drawback lies in the excessive emphasis placed on form, and as a result, pacing of its content takes a back seat at times. Had the three stories been edited by cutting back and forth between each other more often as opposed to going through each one at a time, perhaps the pace would have been consistent. But kudos to Prasad and Ratnam for weaving Rahmanâ€™s thundering songs intelligently into the narrative. How one wishes that his classy background score was also included in the CD.