Dil Dhadakne Do

Every film is a conversation between the maker and the audience. Sometimes this conversation is one-sided – like when the wonderful craft of Christopher Nolan makes Interstellar or Inception, acts of tremendous oratory where we stop asking questions about the ‘How’ and ‘Why’ and just submerge into the world created by him. Sometimes this conversation is passive – like the Matrix series that awe us with their scale and CGI but leave a bitter after-taste of incredulity; questions that wear out the film’s beauty over a period of time. Or when the skill of the director and the actor is so massive that it takes away the attention from the underlying inadequacies in the script or characterization while the film is being watched, but they dawn upon us after coming and one feels frustrated and ignored – films like Badlapur.

But then, ever so often there comes a film that engages the audience on a real-time basis. It answers the questions in such a way that it challenges and eggs us to ask even more. Dil Dhadakne Do is one such film. Writing about a film that released over a month back, can’t really be called a review these days. Month-old films are part of history, provided they are worth remembering in the first place. So this article is less of a review and more a sharing of experience.

Dil Dhadakne Do is a delightful romedy drama about a high-society but dysfunctional family. Dysfunctionality is a highly subjective and rarely filmed concept in India. That is because most of the behaviour that makes a family dysfunctional, in the western sense of the term, are quite accepted and commonplace in the Indian society. We believe that pyaar and takraar go hand in hand and that “husband-wife me aise problems to hoti rehti hain”. So the flawed nature of the Mehra family comes to fore only as the film progresses.

The family in question is the Delhi based Mehra khandaan with patriarch Kamal Mehra (the wonderful Anil Kapoor who seems to be ageing with enviable grace), his wife Neelam (the absolutely mesmerizing Shefali Shah who changes expressions with chameleon-esque ease), their children Ayesha (a fabulous Priyanka Chopra who doesn’t seem to be getting due appreciation in Bollywood these days) and Kabir (a wildly entertaining Ranveer Singh who keeps you guessing whether you are seeing Ranveer portray Kabir or Ranveer being Ranveer) and their dog Pluto Mehra (voice by the terribly irritating Aamir Khan mouthing inane dialogues surprisingly written by Javed Akhtar). Like most Zoya Akhtar movies in the past, this is also a travelogue (Although I don’t imagine Turkey and Tunisia benefiting from this movie as much as Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara helped tourism in Spain). So Kamal and Neena are ‘celebrating’ their 30th anniversary by taking a whole baaraat of characters on a Mediterranean cruise. What happens next has unfortunately been described in great (and unnecessary) detail on the wikipedia page of the film.

While watching the movie, some of the questions that came to my mind were:

Kabir Mehra has everything – a private plane to unwind from day-to-day ‘stress’, a seemingly successful career that is being handed over to him on a platter, an incredibly chiselled torso for which he is apparently not doing much workout. Yet he seems lost and unhappy. Why the hell would he be unhappy? This question was partly answered in the first 15 minutes during the meeting with the Sri Lankan company and more emphatically during the epic gym sequence where father Kamal shows his son his true worth using all the bluntness he can summon.

Ayesha Sangha (née Mehra) is married into an affluent family, has her own business to give her that sense of individual success and a husband Manav (a sadly caricatured Rahul Bose) who may not love her family (or her dog) but seems to love her. Yet she is unhappy and thinking of a divorce. Why the hell would she be unhappy? This role could have well become the obnoxious Rani Mukherjee character from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna who just can’t tolerate Abhishek Bachchan although he seems like a pretty decent guy. Fortunately it was not; thanks to the “I allowed her to do her business” statement by Manav, Ayesha’s interaction with childhood friend Sunny (Farhan Akhtar in a special appearance), and the breakdown she has with Manav after the interaction.

Neelam Mehra has been a wife for 30 years and a mother for almost equivalent number of years. She has a buzzing social life outside and a comfortable life at home. Yet she is continuously fighting with Kamal and unhappy about something or the other. Again, why the hell would she be unhappy? I simply loved getting to know the character of Neelam, especially because it was played by an incredible Shefali Shah. The times when she valiantly tries to smile through her tears and put up a façade of celebration, the time when she binges on the cupcakes trying to come to terms with the promiscuity of her husband, and the time when she finally tells Kamal that she didn’t leave him because she probably didn’t have anywhere else to go. These sequences stayed with me long after the movie got over.

There were many such instances where a question came to my mind and it got answered either by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s story or Farhan Akhtar’s dialogues. It was wonderful ‘talking’ to them. But more heartening was the fact that today morning, I was still having a conversation with myself about the movie. And I realised that most of my questions about the characters cropped up because of my subjective understanding of true happiness and its source. You see, true happiness doesn’t stem from what you have. It comes from how effectively they satisfy your hunger for what you want. You may have all the luxuries of the world, but if it is not something that you want, then it won’t give you happiness. Our doubts over the seriousness of other people’s problems comes from the fact that we judge them on the basis of what we think they’d want in life. If only we devote a little time towards understanding what they actually want in their life, we would be a lot more effective as family members, friends or movie audience.

Dil Dhadakne Do was entertaining and engaging while it lasted, and enlightening thereafter.


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