There is no doubt why one will want to watch 'YHTKH' (who blames Karan Johar for his movie's names). One of India's finest and complex actors is at the director's helm. Naseeruddin Shah is an actor who has spent my living memory lambasting directors and films which first brought him into national consciousness (and noone could really figure why). In the 1970s and 80s, he held the strange crown of being the 'Amitabh Bachchan of Parallel Cinema', and I think there cannot be any more derogatory way of honouring someone. Wonder how Amitabh would have felt if he would have been called the Naseeruddin Shah of mainstream cinema.
However, by the late 80s, when I grew up and started watching more films, Naseer had started acting in quite a number of trite movies, which if not pathetic, were nowhere close to his reputation. His best performance in recent year was possibly his dream role of 'Gandhi' in Kamal Haasan's 'Hey Raam', but unfortunately he played it so realistically, it almost made our greatest hero a buffoon.
Anyways, Naseer had everything to lose when he decided to make this movie. Thankfully, being true to his words and convictions, he did not choose a very heavy theme, with the treatment similar to a parallel movie. Instead, again being true to his socio-political beliefs, he has chosen a theme rooted in reality. The idea behind making the movie is simple - Naseer has narrated four different human-interest tales, to try and tell the audience how the so called big happenings in the world mostly affects individuals totally unconnected to the same. And this effect is mostly of a negative nature.
I sort of agree with the basic premise of the movie. Stalin had said that 'a single death is a tragedy, a million statistics' (and you get very few better authorities in producing these statistics). I often wonder that if I were to die in a road accident tomorrow, I will simply be a small snippet in the inside pages of HT. However, I am quite sure there would be a decent number of people out there whose lives will be affected by my departure.
Naseer has tied up this simple thought into easily the single biggest threat facing modern civilization today - "terrorism". The movie also intelligently shows the play of fate, the type which is at work so often, when all of us know or hear about people who had just left a spot before some tragedy happened, or were supposed to be there but couldn't be because of multiple reasons. The event Naseer chooses is the WTC Bombings. Trust the influence of American mass-media to make this as the epochal moment of modern-day terrorism.
The four separate plots are divergent and rather simple. They all unfold simultaneously too. Konkona Sharma has just got married through Internet arrangements. While her husband Jimmy Shergill leaves the very next day for the US, she has to wait for a year now for her visa to come in. Her travails in a madcap family, led by a cranky American mother-in-law are shown, and finally she does some jugaad to manage a tourist visa for herself.
Paresh Rawal is a fixer for illegal US emmigrants, where he ships off young guys and gals in the garb of cultural trips. His story is captured when his ex-beloved, who married a drunkard over him, wants him to ship off her daughter to better pastures. Another story is of a poor guy called Rahul (a newcomer Ankur Khanna) - his one-sided love for a rich girl Ayesha Takia who is engaged to some other NRI chap, his efforts at managing his humble background and still trying to fit into his sweetheart's social circle, personal loss of his father, and finally how Ayesha helps him financially to help achieve his destiny by going for advanced studies to the US of A. Ayesha is the most glamorous element of the movie, and boy she also has possibly the biggest assets in Bollywood.
Irrfan Khan in his usual dapper style plays a stock-broker, in love with some sort of dancer-performer who is a 'maniser' (Suhashini Mulay in a sensational bold role, wow it takes guts). He catches her red-handed, yet still is infatuated with her. He also gets entangled in a policeman's murder where he and his brother will be taken as prime suspects. They both are guided by someone strange called Amma, who is the movie's most Bollywoodish and to my mind, the weakest character. We never figure out whether Amma is something like Godmother, or their real mother. Anyway, Amma knows of their travails clairvoyantly, and while the two brothers were anyways planning to emmigrate to America, they just have to bring their plans forward. So Irrfan lands up in America before any other character does.
There are two hints in the movie about the climax. In one scene, Rahul is talking about the skyscrapers built upon ruins of people (something of that sort). In another scene, we see Irrfan standing below one, and a plane flying over it. Anyway, the climax looks technically shoddy in today's age, but remember this is a relatively low-budget film, not one of Karan Johar's extravaganzas. However, it does create the desired impact. Irrfan sees the plane coming in and crashing into the towers, when he is sitting inside. Rahul and Paresh Rawal die on the hijacked plane, and Konkona manages to save herself only by luck, as her boarding pass is misplaced.
The movie moves at a languid pace, but the relatively shorter duration keeps you glued. In the end, while there is no preaching in the movie at all, it is a decent showcase of human drama to make you ponder about destiny. While it does not really tug you emotionally, it did make me wonder about karma.