Zoya Akhtar
Direction & Screenplay

Reema Kagti

Farhan Akhtar

Movie Review
Dil Dhadakne Do:Ameeri Jhalakne Do

DIL DHADAKNE DO: Ameeri Jhalakne Do

Dysfunctional-family drama is a genre which has been done to death in Hollywood but for the Hindi film industry, it’s kind of a novelty. Yes, the master filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee had given us films like Bawarchi (1972) and Khubsoorat (1980) but they were more in the space of middleclass joint-family drama and not so much in dysfunctional-nuclear-family, a phenomenon itself quiet recent in our social existence. Dil Dhadakne Do, director Zoya Akhtar’s fourth film is a lighthearted dysfunctional-family drama and also has a setting which makes it stand apart from other family dramas which we have seen - It’s about the kind of people we read about in the newspapers on the Page 3.

Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor), one of Delhi’s top businessmen, plans a cruise with family and friends to celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary. Truth is that he’s on the verge of getting bank-corrupt because the company isn’t faring well. His wife Neelam Mehra (Shefali Shah), a typical socialite who struggles with her own diet plans, colludes with him in devising a rescue-plan for their financial troubles. They want their son Kabir Mehra (Ranveer Singh) to get married to a not-so-close friend Lalit Sood’s (played by Parmeet Sethi) daughter Noorie (Ridhima Sud). Meanwhile, Kamal’s daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) who runs her own company in Mumbai is completely disenchanted from her marriage with Manav Sangha (Rahul Bose) and seeks a divorce. All these characters, and with them another bunch of stereotypical filthy-rich business families, get together on the weeks long cruise which becomes a spectacle of their superficiality and callousness in this funny take on parent-child relationships.

Yes, the sardonic viewpoint of the filmmaker on the uber-rich social class is fascinating while the obvious fact that the writers (Screenplay – Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, Dialogue – Farhan Akhtar, Narrator’s Voice Over- Javed Akhtar) do have a solid firsthand experience of the world they are talking about is delightful. However, the overall film is a mixed-bag of triumphs and disappointments. It has witty lines, pulled off in naturalistic conversations by the actors and sparkling moments. But you might also realize that the lack of an exciting plot, disappointingly, is dealt with too many confrontation scenes lined-up one after another.

The characterization, which again unfortunately doesn’t go beyond scratching the surface for many secondary characters, actually gives the film its heart. Add to that the backstories and the depiction of the milieu; all of which says – This filmmaker knows this world inside out. In fact, the entire first half is nothing but exposition of characters and their peculiar traits while the same notes are hammered again and again. It’s the primary character of Kamal Mehra which holds the film together. He rings so true that every time you see him on the screen, you know you’re meeting some real bigshot - with all his evident drawbacks, from some corporate party in Delhi. And you know that this guy is definitely joked about among his peers behind his back. Kabir, as his not-so-talented inheritor, is also very likeable. The contradiction in the character of Ayesha however seems contrived – It’s hard to imagine a self-made businesswoman not being courageous enough to say what she feels like to her almost-cool-enough parents. To see her as a woman who just can’t confront anybody – be it her husband, ex-lover, brother or parents is like watching the miserable heroine of a daily soap opera in rather fashionable clothes. How she’d run a business, that too super efficiently, is anybody’s guess.

The actual shortcomings of the screenplay lie in the plotting. We have this nice bunch of characters but the experience which they go through isn’t that testing as it should be. The sub-plots take too much time to kick-in, same information is hammered repeatedly, many character tracks are left on a tangent and nothing actually palpable takes place. Kabir’s unconvincing plan to announce his engagement, the misunderstanding between him and his lover Farah (played by Anushka Sharma), Ayesha’s ex-lover’s entry (Sunny, played by Farhan Akhtar) in the second half; all these tried and tested elements are roped in to fill in the cavities. The narrator (the dog Pluto, voiced by Aamir Khan) also doesn’t have much of a purpose in the screenplay and is only occasionally enjoyable. It all works only to a certain extent and the film falls short of becoming an exceptional story that could render a moving experience.

Anil Kapoor takes the cake with his act. He is impeccable. Every frown, every stare and every line which he delivers nears perfection. Shefali Shah and Ranveer Singh are good support. Ranveer, in fact, is the only actor who tries to infuse some physical energy to the otherwise lethargic progression of events. However, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar, along with the debutant Ridhima Sud and Vikrant Massey, actually do nothing more than adding up the number of good-looking faces on the screen. Cinematography is topnotch – something you’d take for granted because of the esteemed banner. Edit seems to be saggy at places but that’s more to do with the unwanted scenes in the screenplay.

Dil Dhadakne Do is like being a fly on the wall in a hi-fi but closed-group house party and observing the elite guests standing in different corners confronting each other after getting drunk. Oh yes, indeed that can have its own merit for a certain section of the audience. It’s glossy, picturesque and a charming display of tasteful clothing. You can guzzle it down with soda-popcorn while also finding yourself looking at the watch intermittently.

   Dinkar Sharma

Dinkar Sharma is a Screenwriter. His first feature film Second Marriage Dot Com was released in 2012. He can be contacted via his Facebook profile:. https://www.facebook.com/imdinkarsharma.

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