Dil Dhadakne Do: It needs a pacemaker

For once Ranveer channelises his energy well and Priyanka goes beyond the pout to embrace a character that every much like the film is a gorgeous cross between stupid and smart.   | Photo Credit: 06dmc DDD2

Genre: Family drama

Director: Zoya Akhtar

Cast: Anil Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Farhan Akhtar, Shefali Shah, Rahul Bose

Zoya and Farhan Akhtar are known to address the lives and troubles of the well-heeled.

They also offer slice of life but with them it is the slice of a buttered toast.

When many in Bollywood are rediscovering middle class India the duo figures out that the problems of the elite are also, what many sociologists say, pretty middle class. Here also the boys are not proving worthy enough and the girls are raring to break through the ceiling, and the previous generation is holding on to some medieval idea of values and morality.

Zoya and co-writer Reema Kagti have ventured into similar spaces before in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Limited, films where journeys matter more than the destination. Here they lace the core of a Rajshri family drama with layers of stylish froth in the form of a lavish cruise ride.

Yes, we are on a cruise trip organised by Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) to celebrate his 30 years of married life. But in fact it is a façade to hide the imminent bankruptcy in business.

The millionaire father uses his son Kabir (Ranveer Singh), reluctant to inherit the empire, as a pawn in a business deal and considers daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) a liability despite knowing that it is his daughter who has inherited his business acumen. His son-in-law Manav (Rahul Bose) thinks giving permission to wife to set up her own business is a sign of gender equality. Will Ayesha put up with a chauvinist in the garb of practical like her mother (Shefali Shah) did all these years? As the ex-flame Sunny (Farhan Akhtar) surfaces and Kabir finds an energy booster in Farah (Anushka Sharma), masks threaten to come off and it makes for an interesting tussle in the dysfunctional family.

However, the idea of using a family pet as the anchor doesn’t really work. It oversimplifies a simple narrative.

One doesn’t need a thinking dog to elaborate on the nuance. With his epistemological observations on human race, Pluto Mehra sounds like a wannabe Plato. And you don’t have to wait till the end credits to figure out that his monologues are written by Javed Akhtar. After a point they become irritating pointers undermining the perceptive power of the audience.

Aamir Khan voice doesn’t help the mastiff’s cause either.

Perhaps it is a way to take the film beyond the metros but there is no need for that because as one said this high class family drama deals with problems like patriarchy, discrimination between boy and girl, bored housewives keeping a closed eye on philandering husband, which are not new to cinematic landscape.

In comparison Farhan Akhtar’s dialogues for the rest of the characters work much better. The scenes where Ayesha’s divorce is discussed are entertaining and informative at the same time. Zarina Wahab’s character as a hypochondriac mother-in-law is a hoot. However, the love and longing parts between Kabir and Farah and Ayesha and Sunny are not as perceptively written.

Moreover, like any cruise it unravels at a leisurely pace where perhaps the editor has also been asked to go on vacation. With little support from the otherwise dependable Shankar Ehsaan Loy, after a point it threatens to behave like a daily soap Meet The Mehras and by the time it drops anchor for one last time the water is as shallow as some of the characters that the film makes fun of. You want to ask Zoya, “Hum Aapke Hain Koun”?

It may not have been her original choice but Zoya’s ensemble cast keeps the narrative flowing even in choppy waters. Anil Kapoor is an absolute delight as the self-obsessed and manipulative Kamal Mehra and he is ably supported by Shefali Shah as the ostrich wife, who ignores being getting ignored. But the film belongs to Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh and they excel as siblings who stand for each other. For once Ranveer channelises his energy well and Priyanka goes beyond the pout to embrace a character that every much like the film is a gorgeous cross between stupid and smart.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 6:59:32 PM |

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