Stay away from the concession stand and forget your phones at home as you’ll need both your hands free for the scroll pad and pen to keep track of the barrage of characters in Dil Dhadakne Do . It is Kamal and Neelam Mehra’s (Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah) 30th wedding anniversary celebration and the guest list includes family, friends, business managers and their pet dog, Pluto Mehra.
The Mehras are Delhi-based millionaires who’ve hit a rough patch in their business. Belonging to an upper class social circle, where ‘ log kya sochenge ’ (what people think) matters more than hum kya sochta hain (what we think), the couple decides to take their family and friends on a Mediterranean cruise to prove that all that glitters is still gold.
But it hardly is. Their 30-year-marriage is itself a farce, made bitter with years of infidelity and the ensuing mistrust. Their daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) too is in an unhappy marriage while their son Kabir (Ranveer Singh) dreams of flying away, literally, from the family business. Add to this, a group of gossipy aunties, a lucrative marriage proposal and a nagging mother-in-law, and you begin to worry if the film will degenerate into a desiThe Bold and The Beautiful . But it doesn’t.
The main issue I had with director Zoya Akhtar’s previous film Zindagi Na Milege Dobara was it felt like a pretty picture-postcard with little room for any meaningful writing. Even in the film’s toughest moments, you knew you could easily switch lives with Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol or Farhan Akhtar, whose lives seemed far too perfect to be worrisome.
In Dil Dhadakne Do , however, the people are equally rich but not for a moment would you want to live their lives. Their world is just as ugly as ours and it is commendable that we begin to care for these ‘fancy people’ so quickly.
The cruise ship setting, being a metaphor for family, succeeds in making us feel claustrophobic even within the expanse of a luxury ocean-liner. Like in a family, one can’t just get off midway, and the fact that you’re surrounded by water on all sides sets the stage for tempers to flare, silences to be broken and facades to be razed.
With so much happening in such a crowded setting, it is great acting from the ensemble cast that makes this character-driven film likeable. Shefali Shah is touching in a scene where she munches on chocolate cake worried about her husband’s roving eye and also in another, where she looks wide-eyed at her husband for approval after wearing her special anniversary sari.
But the film clearly belongs to Anil Kapoor, and his powerhouse performance, which gets us switching from despising him one moment to liking him in the next. Watch out for the scene where he stands up for his daughter when she’s been hurt — it’s whistle-worthy.
At a time when critics complain about the lack of good writing in films, DDD suffers, perhaps, from too much of it. The written material must have been too extensive to get compressed into one film and as a result, the film feels exhausting at close to three hours. Keeping up with the dozen storylines adds to this weariness. But these are tiny missteps in an otherwise enjoyable film which marks a successful return of the director who gave us Luck By Chance .