Review: Yakeen

Posted on July 8, 2005


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A thriller hinges its twists around someone’s loss of memory, but you won’t remember anything the minute it’s over.

JULY 8, 2005 – THE OPENING CREDITS SAY that the story and screenplay are by Vikram I-haven’t-met-a-Hollywood-DVD-I-can’t-rewrite-into-a-Bollywood-movie Bhatt. Soon, a car hurtles off a snowy cliff, and there’s a close-up of the driver; his face is damaged beyond recognition, and we know this because the makeup people have plastered it with what looks like fresh earth. (The net effect is as if the guy’s mug was thrust into a microwave for a good hour.) Then – this is the best past – a doctor in one of those spotless white coats drops like a bomb the name of a high-funda ailment, Psychogenic Amnesia. And I cheered up instantly.

The past few weeks have been something of quality time from Bollywood, what with release after release – D, Parineeta, Paheli, Sarkar – having lofty credentials, loftier ambitions, and the guilty-pleasure centres in my brain were screaming for attention after all the neglect. I mean, nothing after Nazar has been cheesy, sleazy, so-bad-it’s-good fun, and, from the first few scenes, Yakeen seemed just what the doctor ordered.

Promisingly enough, cliché after comforting cliché kicks in. Nikhil (Arjun Rampal) and wife Simar (Priyanka Chopra) do one of those Alpine duets, singing about aankhon and saanson and dil ki dhadkan. (And if you’re wondering, yes, she’s in the sheerest of chiffons while he’s bundled up from head to toe, so that cliché is taken care of as well.) And there’s stupidity galore, most notably in a sequence where Simar drives 20 kilometres to make a phone call. (Our mobile service providers, who spend crores on advertising, are surely going to take issue with this development.)

But, unfortunately, the trashy kicks don’t last very long. The story admittedly has its interesting moments. Nikhil has amnesia – sorry, Psychogenic Amnesia – and he can’t remember if Simar and he got along before the accident. She’s not helping because she keeps alternating between saris and western outfits. (For the uninitiated, according to Bollywood Screenwriting Rule No. 2453, a woman in a sari is a wholesome bharatiya nari, while western outfits always mean she’s something of a scheming femme fatale.) Is she after his fortune? Is she two-timing him? Is he merely being paranoid? How come the average palmist down the road looks nothing like Kim Sharma, eternally in dresses that make you wonder how she manages to breathe?

These are questions, at least the first three, to which we’re meant to nail-bitingly anticipate the answers. But, fatally for a thriller, the pacing goes slack after a while, and director Girish Dhamija clearly can’t create atmosphere even if someone handed him a flask containing nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour. Worse, every twenty minutes, people break into the same song, an eminently forgettable number that rather optimistically goes Bhoolna nahin.

There’s one terrific twist, post interval, and Arjun Rampal and Priyanka Chopra give spirited performances (at least, considering everything else around them). But Yakeen is probably something best enjoyed as a drinking game. Gather some friends around and have a shot every time someone utters the word “yakeen” – it’s as if they were afraid we’d forget the film’s title – and you may end up silly enough to endure this rather silly movie.

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi