Beautiful, well-made films are often ignored by the industry and public at large. Amongst the many films, 2003 had Armaan (Anil Kapoor, Gracy Singh, Amitabh Bachchan) and Saaya (John Abraham, Mahima Choudhary, Tara Sharma). 2004┬┤s Meenaxi, Naach, and Lakshya were wonderful movies that came and went. In 2005, Sehar (Arshad Warsi and Mahima Choudhary) has already been forgotten by many, and now we can add Yahaan to that list. Debutante director Shoojit Sircar gives us a love story wiith intelligence and emotions, boldly defying norms to make a film that is surely one of the best pictures of the year. Stars Jimmy Shergill and newcomer Minissha Lamba are impressive in extraordinary performances. Sircar succeeds in doing what Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Khalid Mohommad fell woefully short of with Mission Kashmir and Fizaa - he makes no compromises in his script and avoids pitfalls and cliches of the genre.
Well-shot and intelligently mounted, Yahaan is not only a pleasant surprise, but a milestone in historically fictional films involving the conflict in Kashmir. Though the film revolves around a love story between a Hindu army officer and Muslim Kashmiri girl in contemporary strife-torn Srinagar, religious conflicts take are thankfully relegated completely to the background. The film instead chooses to embrace the universal theme of a desire for peace and a return to the near-paradise Kashmir once was. There are no frothing fundamentalist politicians and stereotypically fanatical Indians and Pakistanis. More apparent is the suffering of the Kashmiri people as a whole. The film brings to light the aching pain of the citizens of Kashmir and a universal desire to escape from the terrpr and pain of their daily lives. The story is simple - Adaa (Minissha Lamba) is a Kashmiri girl torn between her army officer lover Aman (Jimmy Shergill - finally in a lead role and excellent at that) and her jehaadi insurgent brother Shakeel (Yashpal Sharma). Trouble ensues when Aman┬┤s superiors come to know his involvment with the sister of a terrorist and implicate him as an accomplice. Thus, Adaa begins a valiant attempt to save her lover from the perils of a court-martial and Shakeel is torn between his former family┬┤s happiness and safety and his own jehaadi cause.
The performances in the film are excellent and award-worthy. Finally, Jimmy Shergill finds a lead role worthy of him after many missteps and supporting roles. Shergill has always been a superb performer and ever-dependable in his supporting performances. With Yahaan, he shows his acting chops and his ability to carry a film as a lead. His wonderful performance is bound to get noticed and will most definately lead to further successes, propelling him into the upper echlon of stars. He is charismatic and especially strong in his emotional scenes, a sure-fire contender come awards time. Lets hope producers recognize Shergill as a force to reckon with rather then signing rejects like Zayed Khan and Tusshar Kapoor. Debutante Minissha Lamba is a revelation as well. Like Vidya Balan before her in Parineeta, she shows formidable talent and performs quite well - and not just for her first time. She gives most established so-called actresses a run for their money with her polished performance. While Lamba is not strikingly pretty, she looks stunningly beautiful when she smiles and is like a breath of fresh air in an industry of beauty queens and pin-ups. Her next release is Madhur Bhandarkar┬┤s Corporate, costarring Bipasha Basu and Kay Kay and you can bet I┬┤ll be in line for that one after seeing her astonishing work in this film. She┬┤s a vibrant combination of fragility and vulnerable simplicity and is totally endearing throughout. Yashpal Sharma adds a touch of humanity to what might have otherwise been a cliched terrorist role. His anguish concerning his sister is touching and poignant. A strong performance from an otherwise serviceable actor, he comes into his own with his work in Yahaan. Special mention must go to child-actress Juhi, who plays Siri, a mute orphan with permanent circles under her sad eyes from constant crying. The little girl is heartbreaking as she realizes she┬┤s orphaned again after a bomb blast in her foster home.
The ambiance of the film is gritty and realistic, having been shot with a permanent dull blue-gray tint. The effect is the emphasis of the plight of the state and it┬┤s citizens. There is a permanent atmosphere of gloom over the proceedings, even during the tender sequences between Adaa and Aman. The dialogues are well-penned and a suitably sweeping love score remeniscent of John Barry and Hollywood (unfortunately not offered on the soundtrack) help involve the viewer. Shantanu Moitra┬┤s music is likeable as well, with "Naam Adaa Likhna" as a soft highlight. All in all, Sircar combines gritty realism with a sweeping, emotionally-involving love story with striking effects- Yahaan is moving and original.