After the soul-searching Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Zoya Akhtar brings Dil Dhadakne Do, a cocktail of relationships within a rich dysfunctional Punjabi family and how aboard a 10 day cruise, they repair their bond with one another. A simple premise, an eclectic starcast, strong direction, stirring performances and beautiful locales has been Zoya Akhtar’s recipe for the critically and commercially successful ZNMD and Dil Dhadakne Do too has the same ingredients, but does the cruise flick taste same as Zoya’s previous venture?
Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) is a flamboyant businessman whose company is on the verge of bankruptcy. He, along with his wife Neelam Mehra (Shefali Shah) plan a 10 day getaway on a cruise to celebrate their 30th anniversary, but his primary aim being to marry off his son Kabir Mehra (Ranveer Singh) to a potential investor Lalit Sood’s (Parmeet Sethi) daughter in order to save his company. On a different track, Ayesha Mehra (Priyanka Chopra) is having problems with her marriage, but is not vocal about it. How the Mehras solve their problems and open up to each other forms the plot’s crux.
Zoya extracts some wonderful performances from the actors and this is, in fact, her strength. The best of the lot is Anil Kapoor as the self-made businessman, whose energy is infectious and expressions intense. He was reluctant to step into the shoes of a father, but it is Dil Dhadakne Do’s gain that he agreed! Ranveer Singh is a close second here, with his charm lightening the film’s mood and bringing the much-needed smiles for the viewers. Amidst dominating parents, marriage problems and bitchy soap opera-ish ladies, Ranveer Singh brings moments of humour and calm with his exceptional timing and style of delivering the dialogues. Priyanka Chopra, as the successful independent entrepreneur, who features in Forbes, does her act with gutso and carries an impressive persona right from the onset, but her accent at times pulls her a bit down. Shefali Shah plays her part with conviction and clearly comes out as a woman, who despite knowing about her husband’s affairs, overlooks them and smiles her miseries away, but her eyes expressing her inner feelings. Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar donot have meaty roles, but they donot get unnoticed. Rahul Bose, as the chauvinist Momma’s boy, is rock-solid and I wish he got a little more screen space.
Zoya Akhtar has done an incredible job donning the director’s hat. Having an ensemble cast with big names demands justice for each actor and Zoya passes this difficult exam with flying colours. She makes sure each actor stands upto the other and does so with aplomb. Casting Singh and Chopra as siblings was a risk (as they both feature as husband-wife in SLB’s Bajirao Mastani), but she handles the chemistry between Singh and Chopra delicately. She succeeds big-time in showcasing the hypocrisy and two-face attitude predominant in the rich and the privileged Indians. A handful of scenes leave a mark and are worth remembering- the chemistry between Singh and Sharma when they first meet, with Aamir’s voiceover is superb; the scene when Singh finally opens up to his parents and drops a bomb on them when he tells about his love interest is intense: “Woh dancer hai aur Muslim hai” and the scene where Shah stuffs deserts in her mouth in frustration is moving.
Apart from the skilled direction and heart-warming performances, cinematography and camera work make Dil Dhadakne Do a treat to the eyes. Exotic locales of Turkey, Spain and Istanbul are captured beautifully and so are the aerial shots (when Kabir flies his plane), which is reminiscent of the skydiving moments of ZNMD. The top angle and the intro shots of the cruise are stunning. Farhan Akhtar’s dialogues are witty and the intermittent one-liners bring chuckles. Javed Akhtar’s lines with Aamir Khan’s voiceover hit the right note, but it seems to draw parallels from Khan’s previous venture PK– both focused on the difficult-to-understand human nature.
There are certain problems with Dil Dhadakne Do that are hard to digest. All the parents are shown parochial and regressive, trying to control their children’s lives and not a single parent is shown supportive and open-minded. The wealthy are shown immensely chauvinist where the daughter-in-law is ‘allowed’ to do a business, taunted on uttering words of wisdom on dinner table and expected to focus more on family than career. Also, forgiving a husband for his philandering in a whiff, in the pretext of sacrificing for family and moving on, is ridiculous. Also, the pace is lethargic and the movie moves forward slowly, just like the cruise on the sea! The film loses heat in post interval portions, becoming preachy and finally culminates after a rushed, predictable and an unrealistic climax, but ends on a sweet-note. Happys Endings!
On the whole, Dil Dhadakne Do is driven by strong direction, intense performances and stunning camerawork, but the leisurely pace puts brakes on its run. It still is a film that makes your heart beat and lets you take away something from it and simply for this, it definitely deserves a watch, once!
This is a guest post by Praneel Jain Who blogs at our content partner Review Leaf