Abhishek Bachchan blossomed into a formidably engaging actor in this eagerly awaited work of popular art. Yuva is that rarity which can be watched both as an entertainer and a vehicle for projecting socio-political ideas.The gangster Lallan and his volatile blow-hot, blow-cold relationship with his wife Shashi echoes Manoj Bajpai and Shefali Chhaya’s rapport in Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya.
Many including Jaya Bachchan consider Mani Ratnam’s Yuva to be Abhishek’s finest performance to date. Playing the Bihari goon on hire Lallan Singh, Abhishek mastered the body and spoken language of the Bihari hoodlum. This was another outstanding collaboration with Rani.

Says Abhishek, “My wife had already worked with Mani Ratnam. But for me, Yuva was the first time. Mani entrusted me with a role most directors would have thought I was too raw to play. I think this is one of my best performances.” Abhishek was ecstatic Yuva has given me a new acceptance among critics and audience. “The unanimous approval is refreshing.Mani Ratnam,the genius that he is, he has the knack of making everything seem just right. And when I say everything I mean everything from the dialogue to the costumes, set design, music, acting….To me everything felt right.”

Speaking on Yuva came his way Abhishek said, “I remember Shaad Ali who worked with Mani Rathnam and who was a very good friend of mine, told me Mani Sir wanted to meet me. I thought he wanted to get in touch with Dad through me. I went and met him. He offered me a film . When he narrated the script I was stuck by how simply he narrated a rather complex plot. Later I was to realize that’s how he worked. After he told me the story and my character he said, ‘I forgot to mention the most important thing. Would you like to work with me?’ I just laughed and told him what an honour it would be to work with him. I’m thankful I got Yuva at a time when I really needed it. It boosted my confidence as an actor. I’ve evolved with Mani.”

Abhishek also remembers Madhavan’s advice. “When Maddy who has worked extensively with Mani came to wish us on the first day he told me I was heading for big trouble.According to Maddy , Mani spoils his actors. It’s hard to come out of his spell. Now I know what Maddy meant. What I really love about Mani is that he’s a very keen observer of life and people. He gives reference points for every scene. He’s always watching even when the camera isn’t on. That’s scary. Because even when you aren’t working you feel you’re being watched. He’ll suddenly say, ‘You remember what you did last evening at dinner? I want you to do that.’ An actor has to work with Mani to understand what he’s all about. The confidence he’s given me is immense.”

Abhishek admits Yuva remains unique in his career. “I’ve never played a character like Lallan before. He’s by far the most complex character I’ve played. He’s so hard to classify. One thing that Mani and I decided about Lallan is that he isn’t ambiguous. Lallan is very clear about what he wants in life.Through the process of playing him I actually got to understand and like him. When I see the film now, I feel a strange empathy for him. That’s weird, because at times he’s anything but likeable. But he isn’t a villain or a grey character.”

Abhishek recalls his bonding with his co-stars Ajay Devgan and Vivek Oberoi with much fondness. “We guys did spend a lot of time together. It was great fun. It may sound cliched to say we were one big happy family. But that was a fact.To be honest all my co-stars were very supportive. My performance has little to do with my abilities. If it’s effective it’s because of the way Mani wrote the character. He encouraged me to play Lallan the way you see the character. And I got a lot of help from my co-stars, especially Rani who plays my wife . A character can flourish if it has the ambience and space conducive to growth.I had the time of my life working with Mani. He has a terrific unit .On top of that I had some wonderful co-stars. So the whole experience was amazing. Mani is wonderful with his actors. He talked to us , made us feel comfortable. One can talk to him about anything. Even after pack-up he spends time with us.

Interestingly Madhavan played Abhishek’s role in the Tamil version of Yuva.

Abhishek was all praise for Maddy. “He has done a fantastic job. Maddy has worked a number of times with Mani and admit I’m jealous(laughs) . I don’t think there was any real competition between the two versions of the film. I’m very fond of Maddy. I’ve seen how hard Mani worked on both versions of Yuva. Yuva has a universal theme, though for the life of me I can’t classify what kind of film it is. What Mani said about Yuva makes sense. ‘It’s about three individuals and their choices in life.’
Speaking about Abhishek, Mani had said, “With AB, I could do diverse films only because we were tackling very different characters each time. Lalan in Yuva was a far cry from Gurukanth in Guru and Beera in Raavan. Which means the actor and I are back to square one. Square one is a good place at the start of a shoot.”