These films spoke to and for young people across diverse geographies and demographics

Maithili Shinde
·3-min read

India celebrates National Youth Day on January 12 and the theme for this year’s celebrations is, ‘Channelizing Youth Power for Nation Building’. Youth power and issues connected with the young have been central to many past and recent films. These films do not just talk about the joyous aspect of being young but also the problems faced by them. Here is our list of a few of the best films about youth power.

Kanpuriye: This Yoodlee Films production is directed by Ashish Aryan and stars Aparshakti Khurana, Divyenndu Sharma, Harsh Mayar, Vijay Raaz, Rajshri Deshpande and Harshita Gaur. The richly textured film traces the ambitions, heartbreaks and dilemmas of three young men in a small town. Straining against rigid societal and familial structures, they try to make their way through life, sometimes with success, sometimes with nothing but a dream for a richer, more fulfilling life.

Chhichhore: Directed by Nitesh Tiwari and produced by Sajid Nadiadwala and Fox Star Studios, this coming -of- age film reminded viewers of cult classics like Mansoor Khan’s ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’ and Raj Kumar Hirani’s ‘Three Idiots.’ But the emotional core of the story and its sterling cast headlined by Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Sharma, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Naveen Polishetty and Tushar Pandey, struck a chord with the audience. The inspirational film addressed the issue of examination stress and the importance of equating success with self-improvement rather than a fixed destination.

Bahut Hua Samman: Produced by Yoodlee Films and directed by Ashish Shukla, this film starred Raghav Juyal, Abhishek Chauhan, Sanjay Mishra, Ram Kapoor, Nidhi Singh, Namit Das and Flora Saini. The narrative perfectly captures the ennui and desperation that lack of opportunities create in young minds, especially in a restrictive milieu. We watch in mirth and with growing unease as best friends and engineering students Paresh and Ghanshyam decide to rob a bank. What follows is the re-enactment of Murphy’s Law and everything that can go wrong does go wrong. The lesson? Every action has a consequence and every masterplan has a faultline.

Bala: Produced by Dinesh Vijan and directed by Amar Kaushik, this film starred Ayushmann Khurrana as the titular character, Balmukund Shukla. Our hero suffers from male pattern baldness and a feeling of inadequacy because he is losing his hair. Then there isi Balmukund’s love interest who suffers discrimination because she has dark skin. The film was a comment on the collective obsession with physical perfection that leaves nothing but a lack of self love in its wake.

Chhalaang: Directed by Hansal Mehta, this Ajay Devgan, Luv Ranjan, Ankur Garg and Bhushan Kumar production revisits many genre defining sports films like ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander,’ Shimit Amin’s ‘ Chak De! India’ and Parakash Jha’s ‘Hip Hip Hurray.’ Its young sports aspirants also attempt to improve their motor-skills by trying to catch roosters like the characters in ‘Lagaan.’ What sets it apart is the Haryanvi dialect, the small town nuances and the way, the importance of sports education is woven in the narrative. Rajkummar Rao plays a disinterested PT Master who discovers a passion for teaching and goes on to train a bunch of uninspired students to become passionate match winners.

Noblemen: This Yoodlee Production directed by Vandana Kataria stars Kunal Kapoor, Ali Haji, Ivan Rodrigues, Mohommad Ali Mir, Ankit Kukreti, Muskkaan Jaferi, Shaan Groverr, Soni Razdan, Manav Chauhan, Parag Gupta and Abhay Narang in major roles. This one was not a sunny entertainer but addressed how the dark horrors of bullying corrode the physical, psychological and emotional well-being of vulnerable students in educational institutions and boarding schools. The film is a cautionary tale and depicts unsparingly how the heedless nature of bullying can destroy lives.