If you can’t create an original, revisit a classic or what the producer thinks to be a classic. Karan Johar’s assistants have been doing it for some time and this week it is the turn of debutant Shashank Khaitan to improve upon Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The idea doesn’t give much hope but the treatment takes care of the cynicism. For a large part it comes across as a pleasant reworking, if not subverting, of the mother of all Hindi romantic comedies.
About to be married Ambala girl Kavya (Alia Bhatt) comes to Delhi to buy her trousseau and inadvertently charms Delhi boy Rakesh alias Humpty (Varun Dhawan) with her gutsy and impulsive attitude. The way Shashank brings them together, it doesn’t look odd that they share the bed first and discuss those timeless three words after the action. The girl is in more control of herself than the genre usually allows girls on the last bout of freedom. She no longer needs the mask of alcohol to express her desire. She almost gets over the Delhi episode but the boy follows her to Ambala and faces a wall in the form of Kavya’s father (Ashutosh Rana) who is obviously against love because of a bitter experience from the past. He challenges Humpty to prove him wrong and our hero gets a lifeline.
All through, Shashank takes us back to the format that we have watched many times over and then does something unpredictable with the recipe. Be it the humour between the lines or the usage of vernacular words like ‘chochla’ for issue and ‘tasue’ for tears that lend believability to the proceedings, or, for that matter, generating made-for-each other kind of bonding between the characters, Shashank manages to keep us engaged.
Here the alternative (Siddharth Shukla), the papa’s choice, is not a jerk but a designer option that is difficult to disapprove of. In fact he is a combination of alpha, beta and gamma men! The lesson that unswerving commitment matters more than the qualities of the person comes through without effort.
Also, unlike DDLJ, Shashank doesn’t present the girl’s father as a rigid fool who doesn’t realise what’s cooking in his household until it comes to the head.
It is a nice departure from what we have been watching in this genre.
By the end he does get carried away by the tribute hangover and the self-awareness becomes too obvious to handle. The music disappoints and the only song that works is borrowed! However, the performances keep us glued and makes the screenplay feels better than it actually is.
Alia’s charm is getting contagious with each outing.
She lives up to the tattoo on her nape that declares her to be a cracker.
Varun shows that he belongs to this space and carries both the charmer and the enchanted portions with conviction. Ashutosh tries to do a modern day Amrish Puri and doesn’t do a bad job of being believably loud. Add to it Sahil Vaid as Humpty’s sidekick and we have enough material to keep both the popcorn and the partner in play.
DDLJ redux for a more practical and fun loving generation
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Director: Shashank Khaitan
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Ashutosh Rana, Siddharth Shukla, Sahil Vaid