Yuvvraaj

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Directed by Subhash Ghai. Starring Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, and Zayed Khan. Rated PG.

Veteran director Subhash Ghai’s career has been on a downward spiral since the late 1990s with a series of critical and commercial flops. His latest, Yuvvraaj, confirms that the self-proclaimed Bollywood “showman has certainly lost his touch for good.

Yuvvraaj means “prince”, but there’s nothing princely about this turkey. The story is about a couple of paupers who want to lay claim to the family’s billions after the death of their stubborn patriarch. The only thing that stands in the way of blood brothers Deven (Salman Khan) and Danny Yuvvraaj Singh (Zayed Khan) is their older half brother Gyanesh (Anil Kapoor), who has autism but is apparently a musical genius.

This part–Rain Man rip-off is supposed to be a by-the-numbers big-budget song-and-dance extravaganza in which brotherly love and family triumph over greed and lechery. But Ghai can’t even tell this lame, half-assed story in a straightforward and coherent manner.

The film goes off the rails pretty early on and never recovers. Ghai lets the actors do whatever they please with the substandard material he’s given them. There’s absolutely no dramatic flow—the director and his writers could have been crafting dialogue and scenes right on the set like they used to do in the Bollywood of old. The result is an unentertaining clunker.

Bollywood bad boy Khan sleepwalks through his scenes as does his real-life girlfriend Katrina Kaif, who plays a cellist based in Austria. The only one who seems to give a damn is Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire), who lends his autistic character some weight.

Renowned composer A.R. Rahman, who also scored Slumdog, provides the occasional lift with inspired music numbers, but the film’s pace mutes their impact. This is easily one of the worst films of the year.

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