The style is modern, the sensibility from decades ago. That sums up the film.
So horny boy Lakshya (Himansh Kohli) is the college skirt-chaser. With hair covering his ears and forehead, newbie Kohli is hardly styled like heartthrob material, but he’s alright as an actor. We’re informed that his father, who was an army-man, died defending the country and his mother takes piano classes to get by (pass the handkerchief, please). He dismisses his father’s sacrifice and wants to get out of the country, while fighting with his mother over less pocket-money.
In college he’s all set to kiss Jenny (intro shot of legs, and then lollipop in mouth). His other friends Pardy (short and thin, therefore sidekick), Neil (sunglasses, therefore cool dude) and Jia (college girl, therefore in hot shorts and stilettos) form the gang. Their days are spent stealing cash from the temple to buy beer, or dancing to late-night drunken parties (a music video full of sexualized images of girls).
For “comedy” you have several failed attempts at kisses, a college drama gone wrong, and other such tiresome stuff. Honestly, how do you warm to this fake bunch of characters?
Meanwhile, there’s (more) trouble. An Australian businessman (named Rockefeller, hyuk) gives an evil laugh and tries to usurp the college campus land. That leads to an India VS. Australia challenge and the one who wins keeps the land (if only all land disputes could be solved this way!).
Now get this, stern principal (Gulshan Grover, never allowed to smile) chooses our loser team to compete against their highly trained one. A character points out that Lakshya has no leadership qualities, but stern Prof reminds him of the boy’s father who…..you know.
Also joining them is “behenji” (Rakul Preet) who you already know will eventually have a makeover and get into a mini-skirt. But in her former avatar she is the clichéd nerd who oils her hair and is a prude.
So this no-good team goes to Australia for Round One and encounters the meanness of them racist Australians. Meanwhile, Rockefeller and cronies grin some more. Lakshya hooks up with Australian hottie named Jannet but pronounced Jennet (because in old-school Bollywood, girls in revealing clothes usually have Christian names).
So anyhow the competition hots up (pun unintended) as they race over music, chess and mountain-climbing. In the finals, the organizers think it’s perfectly cool to choose a route for these college kids that is near-fatal and has claimed several lives in the past. Unintentionally funny stuff, this.
Faux emotion is added with the ‘maa’ (mother) angle as the ‘betas’ (sons) prove their worthiness. Artificial patriotism is mixed in and so is some cringe-inducing romance to make for a really toxic mix.
Throughout the film you have the camera show us close-ups of the actress’ legs, mouth, waist etc –it’s just too sleazy to bear. And that the director chooses to hyper-sexualize college kids is even trashier.
What’s worse is she doesn’t give her characters any personality. The hot girls are bimbos, the oil-haired girl is nerdy, the thin guy is the clown, another skinny one is gay, the hero is, well, the hero.
Out of the several people making their debut, Rakul Preet (the nerdy gal) shows some real potential. Hero Himansh Kohli also looks like he has a shot, if he agrees to a haircut.
Cinematographer Sameer Arya makes sure the film looks good; Sikkim and Australia are captured beautifully. The action is another ace with the final race well-executed. A couple of songs are nice.
Debut director Divya Khosla Kumar mentions towards the end that she made the film while mothering her young child. Two of the toughest things in the world, she says. I say hats off to her for the superhuman juggling act. And it has been superhuman as the ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage gives us an insight into the extreme weather the filmwas shot in.
But no brownie points for making a film like this. Yaariyan with its synthetic characters and artificial emotion has the depth and intelligence of a seedy music video. Steer clear!
Rating: Half a star