Visiting Old, Fictional Friends – 10 Years to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

The year was 2013. I was just about to start college when, sometime in early June, I went to watch a movie with my friends, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. The movie sparked a debate after it ended, and a few of my friends didn’t “get” the movie. My experience had been different. I had just seen something that I knew, even back then, would stay with me for many years to come. I watched it again today in a theater, more than a decade after it came out. Let me report, with much satisfaction, that I was right.

A lot has happened in the 10 years since I saw the movie in PnM Mall. I left home, moved to another city for college, then another for another college, then spent a few years being buffeted around the country for work, with an eerie but unintentional similarity to Bunny’s life. I published a novel, wrote another that is out soon, moved to Mumbai to work on a second career. But through it all, the movie has remained a constant with me.

There is the old adage that you never step into the same stream twice, the stream had changed and so have you. I now understand through lived experiences what it means, something I only vaguely felt in my gut back then. That living your life on your own terms comes with a cost. That chasing after something means leaving other things behind, not caring to look into the rearview mirror, your eyes fixed on the road that lies ahead. As Bunny so eloquently notes, “To get to somewhere, it is necessary that you first set out from where you are.” After setting out from many different cities, many paths my life could have taken, I now see my life not only as a kaleidoscope of all that it is today, but also all that it could have been.

In one’s youth, there is always a very romantic relationship one has with their dreams. Through the rose tinted glasses of juvenility, dreams feel like the endpoint, where you get to and put your bags down, hopefully for the last time. But as you get older, you realize that it is a mirage, an oasis that does not exist. Dreams are a journey without any destination. And an exacting journey at that. Chasing after dreams comes at a cost, one that many people are unwilling, or perhaps, afraid to pay.

The theater I entered today was full and suddenly I felt that I was among people who also understood the story Ayan Mukherji was trying to tell. I saw them laugh at Bunny’s wisecracks, dance to Badtamiz Dil, cry as Naina watches Bunny walk past her, bags on his shoulders, towards yet another destination. It reminded me how communal the experience of experiencing art itself is. We are all tied together by the invisible threads that are common to our experience of being humans. For all the small little things that make us unique, there are thousands others which are at the core of what makes us human. The longing for friendship, the pangs of love and jealousy, the confusion of what it all means and the indecision before every move, wondering if it is the right one to make. What else is there to the human condition?

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani for me is a hangout movie. Every year or two, I return to this story to spend time with people who don’t exist and yet I consider friends. I see the transformation of Naina, her fire bubbling to the surface, turning her from the shy, awkward nerd (much like I was) to a person who is in love with herself and makes the tough decisions when Bunny doesn’t have the courage to. I see Avi, and all his bad decisions, and am reminded that our circumstances do not define who we are on the inside. That vices are not a part of your being, you could struggle with your demons on one hands, and yet banish them without a second thought when it comes to your friends. I see Aditi, finally plucking herself from a hopeless situation and realizing that she has the right to be happy, growing up in the process. And then comes Bunny.

I have always understood Bunny in a very personal way, possibly more than I have understood any other character in a movie. I see the duel he fights with himself every day, watching things get torn from his fingers, stuck in time and place while he must continue to walk on. I see his regret, of all the things he has left behind, until it all gets too much and he breaks down under the weight of all that he let go. In his lust for life, he lives like a rolling stone, unable to stop, bound by his own momentum. I have, for better or worse, lived a similar life. I have torn myself, again and again, away from the familiar, the comfortable, the hearth that lies waiting patiently for me, to the cold tundra ahead, where I must light yet another fire once I get there.

Above everything else that I have mentioned so far. Bunny’s story is one of growing up. There is a very telling dialogue at the end of the movie where he says “I am still seeing the same dreams, but with you in tow. I wanted to visit all the places I dreamt of, but holding your hand. It is time that passes, but us who get spent.” We are all getting spent, aren’t we? I was 19 when I saw the film, I am 30 now. Though I might not feel the difference, because I see the same face in the mirror, I am unrecognizable to someone who knew me back then. Ten years have gone by and we, both you and I, have progressed on our slow march to the inevitable. But it is not all doom and gloom. We have grown. We have had experiences, learnt things, met some people and forgotten others. Isn’t that the point of life? We are all here briefly, and there is nothing waiting on the other side of this. So whatever it is, it is in the here and now.

So yes. “Main udna chahta hu, daudna chahta hu, girna bhi chahta hu. Bas rukna nahi chahta.”

Here’s to flying high and never stopping.

4 Comments on “Visiting Old, Fictional Friends – 10 Years to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

  1. Awesome Explanation Siddhant 💥
    Loved the way you expressed your thoughts on this Mind Blowing Masterpiece 🎉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *