Zoya Akhtar films are always packed to the brim with credentials. This is so much so that the audiences feel overwhelmed with excitement prior to the release of the film. It is surprising to think that this week’s release, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, will mark only the director’s third film. If Akthar’s previous films and their intertwined storylines, their intricate characters and the understanding she portrays in tugging at the audiences’ heartstrings is anything to go by, then multi-starrer ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ would put it all at the forefront and make the audiences yearn for more once again.
The story of ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ revolves around a “dysfunctional” Punjabi family; the Mehras. Kamal (Anil Kapoor) and Neelam (Shefali Shah) are taking their friends and family on a two-week cruise to celebrate their wedding anniversary. When their invitation mentions their bachelor son Kabir (Ranveer Singh) but not their married daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra), the cracks in relations and sentiments start to show. When Kamal’s business runs into financial trouble and he tries to acquire money by encouraging his son to maintain a relation with the only daughter of another tycoon, it all turns into chaos.
It’s safe to say that ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ has Akhtar’s stamp all over it. The film plays with Indian stereotypes, forgotten feelings, gender equality, parental responsibility and a whole host of issues in a story which is like a rollercoaster for the audiences. Akhtar, particularly in this film, relies on imperfections and this is perhaps one of the most significant things that can be identified from a film which has been packaged and promoted in an immensely stylish way. The shortcomings of relationships, characters and feelings are brought to the forefront in such a classy fashion that you almost walk off after watching the film feeling fulfillment about the entire experience. It is definitely commendable that Akhtar aims to bring in so many people and personalities into an essentially simple overall narrative and do justice to mostly each part of the film. Aside from that, Akhtar has given a fantastic portrayal of Turkey in the film and it very much makes the viewer want to go on holiday themselves. Also, in a clever way, whilst most journey films that Bollywood has seen recently seem to have a clear phase coming to an end and the implication of a new phase to come, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ leaves it very much open. There is no visual for a love story that works out because the focus is on the family – this is perhaps different for an audience which might be used to a Yash Raj or a Dharma production where pretty much all loose ends in the story are shown to tie up at the end.
‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ is essentially all about individual performances coming together to create an irresistible end product. All the main actors deserve a special mention, in all honesty. Anil Kapoor’s patriarch role is far from the roles hes played previously and his stern and narrow thinking character is played very well by him. Shefali Shah who plays Kapoor’s wife is equally enthralling on screen and she seems to be an expert at emoting through her eyes. She is an actress well known for her performance oriented roles and in this film she fits into the story with ease and still creates a great impression for herself. Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh’s chemistry as brother and sister is one of the film’s best plus-points and their level of comfort with each other is very much evident. Singh, specifically, is natural in his performance as Kabir – he’s mischievous streak seems to highlight the way he is in real life to an extent. Both Singh and Kapoor’s comic timing proves successful at breaking up emotional parts of the film. Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar have short roles but they create a decent impact on the overall plot and perform well in the ensemble cast. Rahul Bose as Chopra’s husband is also worthy of a mention. The other characters within the story are also played by some great actors including Zarina Wahab and Parmeet Sethi and they all give justice to this intricately detailed plot. Aamir Khan’s voice as the narrator (who is actually the dog name Pluto Mehra) is important right from the start and this is a unique way of portraying the story and works well for the sometimes confused feelings and not obviously known history between the characters.
The soundtrack of the film is understated somewhat and doesn’t seem to overpower the actual story; this works in the film’s favour. The songs have been doing particularly well prior to release and to see a unique treatment given to each track on-screen is definitely endearing. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy albums seem to work well with such movies and couple with Javed Akhtar’s lyrics, the soundtrack is a sure shot hit. Priyanka Chopra’s vocals on the title track are something to watch out for and Gallan Goodiyaan seems to have been shot in one go which gives an extra feeling of triumph which is very natural to see on the screen.
It has to be said that ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ as a package is par excellence. There is, however, once thing that lets it down and that is a slightly elongated and unrealistic climax. The only reason this can be forgiven in the most part is because the characters are chopping and changing between real situations, exaggerated emotions and sometimes huge overreactions. Therefore, the far-fetched climax can be overlooked. On the whole, however, this is one film that ticks all the boxes perfectly but still remains that little bit incomplete. It’s a movie to watch for the way Akhtar makes you want to laugh at yourself, accept your imperfections and ultimately remember that good cinema is full of layers in the story.
BizAsia Showbiz rating: 3.5/5