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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Yaaram, Review: Single blues, double whammy and triple talaaq

Yaaram, Review: Single blues, double whammy and triple talaaq

Actor Siddhanth Kapoor, a part-time DJ (disc-jockey), makes his singing debut in Yaaram. The number, titled, ‘Kaash phir se’, is composed by Jeet Gannguli and penned by Kumaar. According to a newspaper report, the actor took a single take to record it, after a mere two days of rehearsals. The song recording is shown as a live studio event while the end credits roll. Credits over, let’s get down to debits and brass tacks. And Yaaram is as tacky as they come, as bad as it can get, though it is not the worst film of 2019. Not by far; not yet, at least.

Rohit is seeing a girl to get married to her. The two pairs of parents have a family-to-family talk, while the man and the woman have a man-to-woman-to-man-to-woman talk, in Mumbai, India. The seal is dealed…uh-oh, the deal is sealed. The scenario then shifts to Mauritius, where almost the entire film has been shot. Rohit’s best friend, theatre director Saahil Qureishi, falls in love with a model/actress, who leads him on, and later introduces Saahil and Rohit to her fiancé. He then falls in love with Zoya, a cafeteria operator, who wears clothes hotter than her coffee and gulps down alcoholic drinks like a diet freak guzzles isotonic salts. But Saahil is unable to express his feelings. Rohit, who also likes Zoya a bit, does the needful. She catches on. S and Z get married.

Four years later, having fixed his own marriage, Rohit visits Mauritius on work, and is shocked to learn that Saahil has divorced Zoya. Saahil gives his own reasons, citing three incidents when he found her behaviour insufferable, and so he uttered Talaaq Talaaq Talaaq (Divorce) thrice, which implied formal divorce. Rohit makes Saahil realise that Zoya was the best thing that happened to him, and he should marry her again. Saahil, who is down and out and suffering being single blues, agrees, but there is a major hitch: according to Muslim Law (as interpreted in the film), he can marry her again only of she remarries first, and her husband divorces her. And to proceed in this line of action, he cannot think of anybody else but Rohit to marry her, and then divorce her soon afterwards, clearing the way for his re-marriage with her, a process called Halala Nikaah. After several desperate attempts, Saahil persuades Rohit. He converts to Islam, marries Zoya, but refuses to divorce her. Now that’s a double whammy, if ever there was one.

Since they are put in ridiculous situation after ridiculous situation by DOP and director Ovais Khan, it is unfair to roundly condemn the cast. Prateik Babbar (Rohit), Siddhant Kapoor (Saahil), Ishita Raj Sharma (Zoya), Subha Rajput (Meera), Dalip Tahil (Rohit’s Father) and Anita Raj Hingorani (Rohit’s mother) come across as awkward amateurs, doing their first film. The last two are veterans of at least four decades, and Prateik is no mean talent, the grainy, over-the-top Saif Ali Khan-like voice being his only real impediment. Yet someone needs to be roundly condemned. Guess who? The writer(s). No names available anywhere. If you find them, let me know, I’ll update this review. On second thought, let me spare him/her/them the misery.

I am no expert on Muslim Personal Law, but any fool will have nothing to say in support of the triple talaaq and Halala Nikaah, as it is depicted in Yaaram. It reduces the major issue to a laughable level. Anyway, the film comes a long time after triple talaaq was legally abolished in India. To remind us that this ‘draconian’ custom was abolished as a result of the efforts of the present rightist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Siddhant’s Papa, screen villain Shakti Kapoor comes on screen at the end of the film and delivers a page long speech, written by someone else (just as they have writers for political speeches; this is a political speech), patting the back of the government for giving a better life to some two million Indian Muslim women, who were victims of this custom.

Firstly, the choice of the actor, who has raped and murdered dozens on celluloid, as a representative of a benevolent government is a bad choice. Add to that the fact that he has had several sex scandals tagged to his name in real-life too, which matters, since he is appearing on screen as Shakti Kapoor, the public figure and not the actor. Secondly, he needed a better speech writer to make any impact. What we see is a sorry audio-visual spectacle which has no place in the film, at the end, beginning or anywhere in between.

Ovais Khan is so endemically enamoured of babes, beaches and Bacchus that almost every other scene has bare-backs, cleavages, sea-shores and ‘shots’ being gulped. To his credit, Ovais Khan paints extremely appealing portraits of L’isle de Maurice, and honestly, I have it on my itinerary, after seeing the film. It seems that the unit needed an excuse to pay for their Mauritius holiday, and the producers tied-up with the Tourism authorities there. When funds fell still short, they approached the Indian ruling party for support, since they were showering encomiums on them.

Some catch-phrases used in the film’s trailer: It is not a love triangle, it is a love square. The most controversial love story of the year. Fall apart to fall back together. I am tempted to rework them. It’s not a square peg, it’s a square peg in a round hole. The most intolerable love yarn of many years. All the actors fall from their parts, and they fall together in a heap.

Most likely, the film got delayed in production and was released on 18 October 2019, whereas the law banning triple divorce was passed on 08 December 2016, almost three years ago. That itself makes the movie redundant. Similarly, a film called Naya Kanoon was released in 1965, about dowry, according to Hindu Law, but a law had already been passed in 1961, banning dowry, making the film out-dated. Needless to say, Naya Kanoon flopped. Need to say, Yaaram will most likely bomb, my friend. Incidentally, Yaaram means ‘my friend’ in Urdu, yaar meaning friend.

Rating: * ½


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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