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Dil Dhadakne Do Review: The Akhtars’ Pretty Bubble Universe

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Move over Karan Johar households, where the parents and the grandparents show the kids  how to behave, how to love and how to live.

Welcome to Akhtar world where the youngsters are more grounded, rational and honest than the self-centred older ones – who cheat in relationships, use people, and love money a little too much.

Welcome to Dil Dhadakne Do.

*****

In Zoya Akhtar’s previous outing – Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) – a bunch of wealthy, yet confused youngsters go on an adventurous trip across Spain, during which the sunniest of them reveals the gloomier side of his, the grumpiest of them falls in love with a hipster, the homeliest of them stands up for himself.

In Dil Dhadakne Do, Zoya’s task is tougher. The wealthy Mehra family is about to collapse socially and financially. Papa Mehra –  Kamal (Anil Kapoor) –  is a self-made businessman, whose company is fast going bankrupt. He is a handsome old man who who wants his body to look like a 24-year old. Mama Mehra, – Neelam (Shefali Shah) – is a worked up trophy wife who is well-aware of her husband’s illicit relationships and one-night-stands, yet is too weak to protest. Beta Mehra, Kabir (Ranveer Singh), is a frustrated young man who is being pushed into a profession he does not want by his parents. And lastly, the feisty daughter Mehra, Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra), who is perhaps more talented than anyone in the family, but is stuck in a bad marriage.

Zoya’s mission is to sort out the lives of the Mehras and let them taste freedom, happiness and love. And the vehicle she uses for this is a luxury cruise liner floating on the Mediterranean. She puts the Mehras – along with other family and friends – on the ship. Ostensibly to celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of Kamal and Neelam, but there is much more to it than that.

*****

What strikes one most is the Wes Andersonesque nature of the movie, minus the symmetrical shots. The colours and background music belong more to a Moonlight Kingdom, than a mainstream Bollywood movie. The characters often react animatedly – deliberately so – and the actors are highly convincing in their roles.

The film has an extraordinary narrator, someone that gets to mouth lines penned by Javed Akhtar.  Ironically, Akthar uses chaste, beautiful and poetic Hindi to chronicle the lives of a set of very wealthy, very English Delhiites.

*****

Anushka Sharma seduces as Farah Ali, an exotic dancer from Europe. The structure and purpose of her character is uncannily similar to Katrina Kaif’s Laila in ZNMD. She is rebellious, focused and independent. She is fearless, just like Kabir says.  The duo meet, fall in love and on the first date, they kiss and make love. But there is a strange lack of chemistry between Ranveer and Anushka, and what saves the film is the warm – and vibrant – sibling-act of Ranveer and Priyanka.

The dashing Anil Kapoor and a fresh looking Shefali Shah are perfectly cast.  There haven’t been many mommies like Shah in Bollywood. The duo portray the bitterness in their relationship beautifully, but what is strange is their bias against their daughter. Indian upper-class families have moved well past the time when daughters were considered inferior to sons. A number of Indian firms are headed by female heirs. Yet, Kamal and Neelam choose the clumsy Kabir as the company’s next head.

*****

What heats things up on the cruise is the arrival of Sunny (Farhan Akhtar), Ayesha’s ex-lover, who is a war-journalist in the Middle-East. He comes across as the coolest of the lot, save Farah. He’s funny, handsome and single to boot. Ayesha and Sunny want to kiss and make up, but it’s not easy.

The film has a long list of stars – Every frame is star-studded. So many, that you lose track of them sometimes. Like where Farah is in the second half of the film – she is hardly around.

The climax appeases everyone – The evil family friend extends a helping hand, broken relationships get mended quickly, unsaid love is disclosed and Mehra family is happy again. There is no life-altering incident or an in-depth conversation that would stay with you for long. Everything looks pretty and fun, yet forgettable.

*****

There is fun. Glitz. Glamour. Yet, the movie feels nothing more than a TV soap opera with a lot of characters. It is only thanks to the performances that the film manages to stay afloat.

*****

The Dil Dhadakne Do Review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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