Yuvarathnaa movie review: Puneeth Rajkumar film on Amazon Prime Video promises a lot, delivers very little
By now, you know some tentpole films not just call for willing suspension of disbelief but vociferously demand it. Puneeth Rajkumar's film evidently falls in the latter category.
castPuneeth Rajkumar, Sayyeshaa, Prakash Raj, Achyuth Kumar, Diganth Manchale
By now, you know that some tentpole films not just call for willing suspension of disbelief but vociferously demand it. The Kannada film Yuvarathnaa, starring Puneeth Rajkumar and directed by Santhosh Ananddram, falls in the latter category. The film released in theatres on 1 April and dropped on Amazon Prime Video on 9 April.
Puneeth is known to be sharp on fitness and his Insta page is full of him defying gravity during the lockdown. You see quite a few similar scenes in the film too. Playing Arjun or Yuvaraj, depending on when you begin watching the film, he shimmies down pipes and slides on the floor, all in good time to dispatch the bad boys where they need to be. Puneeth is a good dancer, and pairing up with him is Sayyeshaa, also known for her dancing skills. So, action and catchy dance hooks are guaranteed — to Thaman’s music, which does not really grab attention, though.
It’s a Puneeth film and the scope is vast for some meta-ness, which the director, who is also the film’s writer, grabs, rarely letting go of one chance. Be it Puneeth’s father, the legendary Rajkumar’s acting and singing, or the fact that Puneeth and his eldest brother Shivraj Kumar seem to have held age at bay, the film manages to find a way to sprinkle these dialogues ever so often.
Finally, the story. Er, what did you ask? Is the film about private institutions taking over education, failing government colleges, a former student returning to set right the ills plaguing education or… you get the drift. If only the team had caught hold of one strand, held on to it tight and explored that angle, you might have had a good masala film. Here, it aspired to cover all bases. This does not come together well and the film stretches on, needlessly to about 160-odd minutes.
The film has an ensemble cast of good performers. There’s Prakash Raj playing the do-gooder principal, and this is an actor who can really sell you “good” and “evil”. There’s Prakash Belawadi, whose very twitch can convey so much, and there’s Achyuth Kumar, another effortless performer. But, there’s only so much they can do to rise above the script. Diganth plays one of the alumni, and you can see the twist from a mile away.
Sayyeshaa disappears after a bit, and you don’t even ask why. The women in the film are so terribly written. In one scene, you cringe when Puneeth congratulates a hastily-put-together women’s cricket team, because they did their job well — their brief is to scratch the ego of the male players, so that they forget their differences and team up! Like, why, why.
There’s one set of scenes featuring parents in college. It is fleeting, but serves some purpose. Some film must certainly flesh out the delicious prospect of parents getting back to college, crushing on people and striking bonds with the parents of their children’s classmates, and yes, struggling with new-age mathematics.
Yes, this is a commercial film so why must it be up for scrutiny, one might wonder. It draws eyeballs, and so, all the more reason why there’s a need for sensitivity. The drug addiction scenes are a hoot. Are they high on drugs, or is this something else we see?
Prakash Raj plays a hugely popular college principal, but he does not know that a former student of his is a youth icon professor! This said youth icon is also an expert in getting students off drugs, apparently. How? You’re asking too many questions.
The writing of the film is smart in places. There’s a hat-tip to Tamil Nadu politician Annamalai, who used to be a former police officer in Karnataka. Also, one doubt. If some scenes are set in Mangaluru or coastal Karnataka, is it necessary that huli vesha in the fish market and Yakshagaana on the stage are a must?
As per the film, Puneeth’s character is a professor in his early 30s, and Sayyeshaa is Vandana, who teaches in a medical college. A film like this could have done with some gravitas, when it comes to showing the professional lives of its leads. She is coy about him knowing she’s a professor. Why? Again, too many questions.
This is a film that does not demand much of your attention, which might suit these pandemic times. But, at a time when the Kannada film industry is coming up with interesting fare that is massy yet classy, this film falls short by a mile. One just wishes Puneeth shows the same care he does while backing films as a producer (he was a part of Hemanth M Rao’s lovely Kavaludaari!) when choosing films he stars in too.
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