Yuva Rajkumar in Yuva
Yuva Rajkumar in YuvaYouTube / Hombale Films

For his debut, Yuva Rajkumar deserved a better script than Santhosh Ananddram’s Yuva

When the camera does not linger on Yuva’s face, you can see that he holds the potential to display quiet dignity — if only the filmmakers would allow him.
Yuva (Kannada)(2.5 / 5)

We’ve all watched our share of movies where the second half supremely lets down the first. After a long while, I watched a film where the two halves have nothing to do with the other, and have been force-fitted in the launch vehicle called Yuva, directed by Santhosh Ananddram, starring Yuva Rajkumar, and bankrolled by Hombale Films.

The first half of the film leaves you feeling absolutely numb after the varieties of stunts performed by Yuva. It’s his debut, and there is a pressing need to showcase all he’s capable of, but when the platter is filled with stunts and no emotion behind it, you are left feeling cold. Are the two rival groups in a Mangaluru college fighting the local students/hostellers issue or is it a fight over the parking lot? 

There are many questions. Why is the hostel warden so horribly rude? And does the pilivesha (tiger dance) by the girls actually calm her down? Why is everyone so violent? And when the rest of us end up with concussions and fractures even after a minor fall, how do these boys put their head to such extreme trauma and emerge unscathed? Why is the father (Achyuth Kumar in a poorly-written character) always so angry when he’s not always right? And finally, why will you waste talent like Sudha Rani and Sapthami Gowda, who have nothing to do in this movie except cry in the former’s case and worry in the latter’s?

The second half has absolutely nothing to do with the first half. A boy who is violence personified on campus continues his violent streak, but elsewhere. The college principal (Gopalkrishna Deshpande) disappears. Instead enters Kishore, Yuva’s wrestling coach, who single-handedly fights the system for Yuva. It’s almost like they began a movie, then decided let’s change track, and made something completely different from the first half. 

Looking back, the movie’s heft is in the second half, where there are at least valid reasons for Yuva’s explosive anger. They pick all the right causes — ill-treatment of food delivery gig workers, corruption in sports, and share market scams, but lose track while tying the threads together. If this had been the entire movie, the end result might have been very different. 

This is not to say Yuva Rajkumar is not promising. He’s earnest to a fault in the dance and action sequences, and when the camera does not linger on his face, you can actually see that he holds the potential to display quiet dignity. If only filmmakers let him do that, and not expect him to uphold the family name in his very first film.

Yuva’s director is Santhosh Ananddram, who gave Yuva Rajkumar’s uncle, the late Puneeth Rajkumar, a mammoth hit in Raajakumara (2017). He comes with a decent filmography, including the 2023 Raghavendra Stores. But for Yuva, one wishes he’d done better by his story and the young hero. 

It is also necessary to realise that a punch dialogue is supposed to make only an occasional appearance. If every line is a punch dialogue, it is grating to the ears!

Some scenes were especially in poor taste. There’s a scene in the villain’s den where a lady is frying fish. Of course, the camera focuses on her cleavage and her legs, and on a man who eyes her. In case the intent is not yet clear, there’s ‘Nodu Nodu’ playing in the background. 

Body shaming in cinema has mostly been mercifully relegated to the background. But not here. There’s an entire sequence featuring a delivery boy whose looks can terrify even dogs and make children wet their pants! Like why?

There’s also the issue of how the film brings a family to the streets in the quest of a grand wedding. That too, for a son-in-law who does not stand by the family. This is 2024! 

Achyuth Kumar’s character is written as a high-strung person who wants to do the right thing, but you don't buy it because he goes haywire himself. Unintentional humour kills almost every emotional scene in the film. There’s one moment of genuine laughter though — when Yuva calls out to his friend ‘Shetty’ at a Mangaluru function, and everyone from the guests to the serving staff turns back. 

I hope Yuva’s next directors focus on the story and give him a role that will see him reveal his quieter side. We have seen the noise and brawn, now let him get some chance to show the heart beneath all that muscle!

Watch the trailer here:

Subha J Rao is an entertainment journalist covering Tamil and Kannada cinema and is based out of Mangaluru, Karnataka.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film’s producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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