BY SRIMOYEE TAMULI PHUKAN
In 2011 when writer-director Zoya Akhtar, along with co-writer, Reema Kagti, made a coming-of-age movie, Zindegi na Milegi Dobara, they set a certain standard for themselves. It captured the imagination of average aspirational Indian youth though its philosophy, ‘cease the day.’ If you think Dil Dhadakne Do will sell luxury cruises to the upper class and the elites, the way Indian middle class took to road trips, deep sea, sky diving, and Spain holidays after Zindegi na Milegi Dobara, you are mistaken. Dil Dhadakne Do doesn’t do any of the above. Although the trailers seem to echo the same verve and feel, this one goes on a different tangent. Because, after all, how far can a film go to sell dreams, when the story is built around dysfunctional families, particularly, the Mehras of high-society Delhi.
The viewers are introduced to the Mehras one by one through their old and wise pug, Pluto Mehra, his is the voice of wisdom, done to near perfection by Aamir Khan. While this narrative style works on many counts, especially to tie an elaborate ensemble cast, you wish the writers had taken a less beaten path. A good twenty minutes or more is spent to introduce the rest of the cast which form the guest list of the Mehras’ cruise party to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary. Very soon, pill-poppinganxious businessmen, with their Louis Vuitton-clad wives, and their picture-perfect offspring bedeck the luxury ship.
As the camera pans across the grandeur of the magnificent ship and the high-flying lives of people on it, you occasionally sigh at the pretty picture it creates. But till now the movie weighs under the pressure of a terrific ensemble cast, which seem to be chewing off very little meat. As each new character is introduced, Pluto Mehra, gives you an insight into their past lives, which by now becomes somewhat monotonous and you wish the movie did more ‘showing’ than ‘telling’ – the cardinal flaw in the film. Almost two hours is spent building the conflict around the inherent flaws in the lives of these successful businessmen and their scions. As a viewer it worried me when there was no sign of tying the loose ends even after much into the interval. And when the resolve came, it came too sudden and quick, not the kind of treatment you would expect from Zoya Akhtar and team.
Dil Dhadakne Do at best is a clichéd attempt at holding a mirror against a class that is caught up in their rose-tinted make-believe world. A tighter screenplay, an indirect narrative, sharper editing and snappier dialogues could have taken the movie to a different level. Not denying the few instances when the dialogues have you in splits, but they are too scanty and hence do not make up for the larger flaws. However, individual performances of Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shash, Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra make the film worth watching. The warmth and understanding shown between the Mehra siblings (Priyanka and Ranveer) is endearing and heart warming – rarely handled with such sensitivity in our cinema.
But the film belonged to Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah who are stellar as the Mehra couple in their turbulent marriage. Despite brief roles, both Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar manage to make an impression. But at the end of a close to three hour-long film, what is achieved is a mediocre take on the lives of the Richie Riches of Delhi. The last scene particularly was a desperate measure to have the Mehra family in one frame to announce the coming together of the family, complete with the pet, Pluto. And before you begin to wonder at what might have inspired such a clumsy ending, the end credits are already rolled out for you. Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is hummable but not wounded well into the film to add up to the scenes.
Dil Dhadakne Do certainly deserves a watch for the pretty canvas it paints, but not for a soulful and enriching experience, as the title seems to suggest. This one is a no-brainer from Zoya’s kitty – a classic example of how sometimes the best of talents fail to deliver.