Why Shoojit Sircar’s debut film Yahaan deserves a larger audience

Shoojit Sircar's debut film Yahaan was as pretty as it was painful (and I mean that in the best way possible). Lead actor Jimmy Sheirgill stood out, thanks to his subtle and nuanced performance as Captain Aman in the romantic drama.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi | Published: April 10, 2018 6:59:09 am
A still from Shoojit Sircar's Yahaan A still from Shoojit Sircar’s debut film Yahaan

Shoojit Sircar will soon be releasing his upcoming romantic drama October, which stars Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu in the lead. But October is not the first time Sircar will be attempting something in the genre of romance. Many might not remember this, but the filmmaker’s foray into Bollywood had been with a romantic film.

Yahaan, starring Jimmy Sheirgill and Minissha Lamba, is an emotional and picturesque portrayal of what it’s like to fall in love in the conflict-ridden Kashmir. The movie had released in 2005, and it was the Bollywood debut of both Sircar and Lamba.

Jimmy’s character Captain Aman has been posted in Kashmir. And upon reaching the place, one of the first things he utters is “Waah!” (Wow!), therefore voicing something everyone associates with Kashmir– its loveliness. The other thing, unfortunately, that often comes to mind when anyone mentions Kashmir is strife. While Jimmy’s Aman stands for the dissension and disruption of the state, Minissha’s character Adaa represents the innocent beauty of Kashmir.

Yahaan had not exactly created an uproar at the box office, and a flood-hit Mumbai had not really helped the situation. However, 13 years after its release, the film still stands on its feet. Yahaan is about Kashmir, but it is also about love. The two subjects Indians hold close to their hearts. What happens when a Muslim Kashmiri woman falls for a Hindu man, who’s also a captain of the Indian army?

Yahaan is a slow-burn, but it’s so pretty, so painful, that you are ready to forgive its pace. One of the most memorable scenes of the film is when Adaa (Minissha) puts on a pair of jeans and a white sleeveless top, an attire that her people do not expect to see her in. Adaa’s happiness at owning the piece of cloth is precious. A few minutes into the movie, Adaa and Aman meet and everything crumbles into dust. In a twist of events, Aman is accused of fraternising with Shakeel (played by Yashpal Sharma), Adaa’s brother, who claims himself to be a jihadi.

Jimmy, who is a criminally underrated actor, shines as the man who is torn between desire and duty. He is a person who can tell his wrongs from rights. It’s a fine performance from a man who knows his character. In fact, Jimmy’s act is so finely-drawn that you won’t even notice it if you don’t pay enough attention. Captain Aman settles so absolutely within the frame of the entire movie that he really doesn’t stand out, and I mean in that in a good way. On the other hand, Minissha hits some targets and misses a few marks.

Jakob Ihre’s work with the camera is exquisite, capturing Kashmir at its finest. There are gorgeous shots of Kashmir, looking peacefully into the camera as if it was made to be filmed. The songs are just as pretty, with lyrics by the incomparable Gulzar and music by Shantanu Moitra. The song “Naam Ada Likhna” is calm in its tone, delightful in words. Now it remains to be seen whether Sircar will be able to repeat the magic with his upcoming romantic drama, October.

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