LoveYatri Review

Starring debutants Aayush Sharma (right) and Warina Hussain, “LoveYatri” is an enjoyable and positive watch. (photo provided)

Salman Khan Films present “LoveYatri”

Produced by: Salma Khan

Directed by: Abhiraj K. Minawala

Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Yo Yo Honey Singh, DJ Lito & DJ Chetas and Kaushik-Akash-Guddu (JAM 8)

Starring: Aayush Sharma, Warina Hussain, Ram Kapoor, Ronit Roy, Manoj Joshi, Pratik Gandhi, Manoj Joshi, Kenneth Desai, Danny Mahoney & others

It’s a foolproof story: the classic tale of lovers versus class barriers and with the usual misunderstandings. So what makes “LoveYatri” an enjoyable and so positive watch?

Gujarati NRI Manisha aka Michelle (Warina Hussain), a brilliant student in London and the daughter of Sam (originally Sameer) Patel, who has a chain of laundries there called “Lord Of The Rinse,” visits Baroda during Navratri. Sushrut aka Susu (Aayush Sharma) is a young man whose goal in life is to start a Garba Academy. He sees her at the Garba night conducted by his maternal uncle and inspiration Rasik (Ram Kapoor) and falls for her. Using a ruse, he gets to meet with her, and they become friends, though Manisha will return home after the festival is over.

Encouraged by Rasik, Susu tries to get close, but Sam sees red and meets Susu to point out the chasm between them. This leads to a misunderstanding between the two and Manisha flies off home. She blocks Susu’s phone and his only hope is to go to London and clear the air and apologize, as he knows where to find her there when she does social work on Sunday. For this, he has to wait a full year.

Niren Bhatt’s fast-paced and extremely positive script and his superb dialogues laced with fantastic wit lift the film. Abhiraj K. Minawala makes a VERY confident debut as a director and makes sure that all departments of his film excel. Here is a welcome addition to the list of directors who genuinely love classic Hindi films and want to keep them flourishing.

The best parts about this story are the many contemporary touches, with the most ‘filmi’ or seemingly absurd things explained, san any skirmish with logic. We will grant the concession of a part-Punjabi song in a London pub because the song is extremely catchy and eye-pleasingly filmed, and maybe because the people behind the film fell momentarily weak and overrated the allure of mandatory Punjabi even in a story about another culture!

We also grant the humorous presence of Gujarat-rooted London cops Jignesh (Arbaaz Khan) and Bhavesh (Sohail Khan) as even their sequence has a logical follow-up. And Salman Khan has paid tribute to all the three Khans (himself included) in an amusing sequence in a London pub frequented by Indians. There is also no artificial or dramatic high in the climax, and things are shown naturally, including the meltdown of the antagonist.

There are more highlights: Whether in Baroda city, at the Garba nights, or in London, the cinematography (Jishnu Bhattacharjee) is magnificent and among the finest works of 2018 – and this year has really seen some stupendous work in Hindi cinema in this department; the production design (Amit Ray, Subrata Chakraborty), editing (Ritesh Soni) and costumes (Manish Malhotra, Alvira Agnihotri, and Ashley Rebello) are all top class, as is the background music (Sanchit Balsara and Ankit Balsara) that evokes the perfect ambiance and mood.

The color, spirit, and zest for life of Gujaratis, especially during their biggest and longest festival, comes alive with all this and the brilliant soundtrack. Films with new lead pairs and a solid music score have been a tradition in Hindi cinema from the 1973 “Bobby,” which was broken after “Ishq Vishq” in 2003. Just as Salman Khan’s “Dabangg” brought back the lip-synched song way back in 2010, this film brings back another very Indian hallmark of popular culture – hummable and only THEN danceable songs in a love story.

The performances are extraordinary. Aayush Sharma and Warina Hussain are first-rate additions to the list of future talents, are all-rounders, and do not look as if this is their first film. Sharma is a fab dancer as well, and Hussain, despite being a foreigner (an Afghan) is very comfortable in Hindi and the general ethos of Gujarat.

The supporting cast is plain magnificent, come Ram Kapoor in what must be the best role of his film career (he overshadows all the supporting cast), Ronit Roy, who imparts a different nuance to his strict father’s role, Kenneth Desai as Susu’s father, Susu’s mom (we did not catch the name) and also his unforgettable friends of contrasting mentalities – Rocket (Sajeel Parekh) and Negative (Pratik Gandhi).

Do not miss this family entertainer if you like your films warm, colorful, full of positivity and yet contemporary. After an overdose of Punjabi and various dialects from the Hindi belt, this Gujarati ambiance was probably as fresh and necessary as the Bengali idiom of “Piku.” And in both these diverse films, the language spoken was easily comprehensible.

Rating: **** (Almost)

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