Synopsis – On a cruise to celebrate their parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, a brother and sister deal with the impact of family considerations on their romantic lives.
My Take – Director Zoya Akhtar had a near to decent start with her debut Luck By Chance *ing her brother the very talented Farhan Akhtar in the lead along with some very known faces making appearances in smaller roles. Despite the critical success & BO failure of the film, she moved on to the very successful Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) which can arguably be termed as a spiritual successor to her brother’s debut film as a director – Dil Chahta Hai. Here, with another multi star cast at her helm, Zoya proves how good of a filmmaker she is! Arguably at par with her brother’s talent as a director! While Luck by Chance focused on the metamorphosis of a struggle to a rising star & how the equation in his relationships changes in that process, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was all about celebrating life, friendships. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara brought lot of accolades to Zoya and it still stands apart as a superior piece of art from her. This time around Zoya Akhtar takes us into the world of a family melodrama filled with humor. The story follows the Mehra family, an upper class Punjabi family on a cruise trip. The father, Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor), is a self-made businessman who is married to Neelam (Shefali Shah), a housewife, and the couple has two children, Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) who is married to Manav (Rahul Bose) and Kabir (Ranveer Singh), a bachelor. The cruise is planned by Ayesha and Kabir to celebrate their parents’ 30th marriage anniversary. However, Kamal Mehra is facing bankruptcy, and, being a shrewd businessman, he sees the cruise as an opportunity to revive credibility by selling off 49 percent of his company’s stake to a powerful adversary, by hook or by crook. Soon things begin to take an ugly shape as Kamal’s ambitions once again come in the way of his children’s happiness. What happens when tension between Kamal and Neelam becomes obvious? When Kabir refuses marrying heiress Noorie (Ridhima) because he loves dancer Farah (Anushka Sharma)? And when Ayesha’s attractive ex Sunny (Farhan Akhtar) joins the cruise? And of course their is also a pet dog Pluto (voiced by none other than Aamir Khan) who is also treated as a member of the family.
The film brings to the fore the issue of marital incompatibility between partners. It’s a topic that’s seldom been touched upon in Hindi films. Even the modern Indian families haven’t yet fully come to terms with the important issue of gender equality. Yes, the women certainly have greater liberty but they still don’t enjoy the equality that’s associated with the fairer sex in the western societies. For all important matters (like marriage, family planning, work, etc.) the females must seek permission from their fathers/husbands. And then there’s this childish fascination for a male heir to take forward the family legacy. Why can’t a daughter assume the mantle, if she has both the interest and the qualification? It is questions like these that lie at the heart of the film. The movie also poses some important questions about life: Why we humans despite being gifted with the power of speech fail to propagate our innermost thoughts to the ones we love? Why we spent most of our time doing things that have little relevance to life? Why we allow our ego to come in the way of our love? Why we complicate the lives of ones we love and care about instead of showing them the right path? Most of these questions appear in form of voice overs, brilliantly delivered by none other than Aamir Khan whose narration is certainly the movie’s USP. To begin with the technicalities I would say Zoya has got her own unique way to make a movie and knows the best possible drills to keep you entertained. Selective cinematography, witty writing and breath taking screen play has always been her USP. Reema Kagti, Zoya, Farhan & Ritesh Sidhwani have once again produced one of the finest set of writing on screen and if you have been their perennial lovers, you will not be disappointed at all, rather you would fall in love with it once again! If you ask me, what doesn’t work in the favor of the movie, it is the pace and the music. What works in the movie is the message which is being conveyed. If only the run time, which by the way is close to three hours (170 minutes to be exact), this could have been a perfect family treat. The pacing in the 1st half is not as noticeable mainly due to the various humorous & eye raising moments, but somehow the drama dips in the second hour (as does in most Bollywood films now days)! Another point I would like to raise – the film lacks universal appeal, as the whole subject & most of the dialogues are relate able to the English speaking Indians as opposed to the whole of India as used to be the case earlier. While some recent films have shown a change in this trend, many major production houses are still sticking to the time- tested formula of making films that cater to the Anglo-phonic tastes of the ever expanding urban middle-class. It can be said with absolute certainty that this one is targeted towards the very class of audience. The film is certainly not immune to some plot holes and continuity errors. The film most certainly needed a better ending. In fact, the last fifteen minutes do grave injustice to the rest of the film.
There are some loose ends that have been just left with no explanation from the protagonists. Yet, without doubt the film is essentially a character-based film in its soul. There is relatively little in terms of the story but what takes the cake is Zoya Akhtar’s treatment to it & the lead player’s performances! It’s refreshing to watch Anil Kapoor in this all greyed-out avatar of his!. He stands out with his performance as the father who feels the need to stamp his authority on his children even though they are adults. Then again he has played the neglectful husband to his on-screen wife with his usual brilliance. He has literally played a character which has shades of grey (pun intended) to it. There is also a certain growth to his character as the film progresses which takes its full form toward the climax. He is just brilliant. He has defined Kamal Mehra so wonderfully. He has played Kamal’s self-obsession, need to show off, manipulative at times so convincingly. Shefali Shah is simply amazing to watch. She plays the rich housewife excellently. Her chemistry with Anil Kapoor deserves a special mention for sure! It’s good to see Priyanka Chopra bringing her a-game to the table. She gets a lot to do here, which she carries with aplomb in comparison to her recent more loud performances. Without any doubts, the scene stealer here is Ranveer Singh! The talented lad has been sadly out shined by his co stars in his recently released films, but here he goes full 360 & delivers his best performance yet! Director Zoya Akhtar has entrusted him with the best scenes & dialogues of the film. He is on a roll here! Anuskha Sharma, Rahul Bose and Farhan Akhtar (in a special appearance) provide great support throughout the length of the film. They have well-written characters which definitely can be seen through their performances in this otherwise crowded ship of characters. On the whole, ‘Dil Dhadkane Do’ is definitely an entertaining ride, which is somewhat lengthened than requirement, yet redefines Bollywood family drama! This one surely offers something interesting than other Bollywood movies coming each Friday. If you are fond of shallow entertainment or masala movies, this is not the film for you! Otherwise watch it for the cast & humor!
Director – Zoya Akhtar
Rated – U
Run Time – 170 minutes