That Zoya Akhtar is brilliant at mounting emotions on lavish urban backdrops is now part of the Hindi film industry folklore. Luck by Chance and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Zoya’s previous two films, had lovely interplay of innate, mostly unexpressed human emotions in the backdrop of a breathtaking canvas. In fact, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) went on to become an urban cult film on friendship, bonding and self-realization. Dil Dhadakne Do comes at the back of the hugely successfully and much loved ZNMD and hence the expectations from the film are sky-high. Does Dil Dhadakne get your heart pumping like how ZNMD did? Sadly, the answer is in negative. Dil Dhadakne Do, albeit an honest and occasionally sincere effort in the tricky family drama/comedy genre, eventually fails to sail through and sinks without leaving much trace on your mind’s waters.
Story of a superrich, dysfunctional Punjabi family on a cruise trip, with each of its member hiding his or her own secrets, apprehensions and grievances, is an absolutely mouthwatering cocktail to serve to the Indian audiences. Let’s admit it – we love to watch big fat Indian families on the big screen that are more dramatic than Shakespearean plays and invariably end up solving all their woes, issues and conflicts towards the end. We, the average Indian moviegoers, are fascinated, if not obsessed, with visuals of families that boast of their love, bonding, values, sanskaars and what not.
Dil Dhadakne Do’s Mehras are similar to most of the Indian families that we are accustomed to see apart from the fact that this family is filthy rich and hence their problems and issues are elitist to say the least. So, Kabir Mehra, played by a surprisingly understated and classy Ranveer Singh, is terribly worried when his dad Kamal Mehra, played by Anil Kapoor, decides to sell off their family airplane! Yes, you read it right.
Apart from Anil Kapoor and Ranveer Singh who play Mehra father and son, there’s Shefali Shah as Mrs. Mehra and Priyanka Chopra as their daughter, Ayesha. Adding zingy support to this family from outside are Farhan Akhar as Priyanka Chopra’s ex-flame, Anushka Sharma as Ranveer Singh’s love interest, Rahul Bose as Priyanka’s husband, a dog called Pluto Mehra, Zarina Wahab as Rahul Bose’s mother, Manoj Pahwa and Parmeet Sethia as friends of Mehras…wait, wait, wait! Are you cursing me already for giving this long and never ending introduction of the cast? What if I tell you that I am only half done? Imagine all these characters vying for your attention throughout the almost three-hour runtime of the film!
Dil Dhadakne Do is way too crowded for its central characters to make an everlasting impression on your mind. If ZNMD is still etched in our memories, it is primarily because of the fact that the film revolved around its three leading men and rightly so. Dil Dhadakne Do has too many characters, most of them sketches and caricatures who do not add anything substantial to overall storytelling.
To be fair to Zoya, the film has its honest moments every now and then, what if they are few and far in between. Priyanka and Ranveer’s brother-sister camaraderie is terrific and these two actors add flesh and blood to the characters they portray. Kabir and Ayesha are the two of the most ‘real’ characters in the film – you can almost feel their conflicts, laugh in their joys, relate to their plight. Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah’s chemistry is left largely untapped except for a few stereotypical references to ‘older couple marriage issues’. Anil Kapoor’s transformation into a visibly older man with grey hair and wrinkles is eye catchy and makes you believe that time actually does fly! Farhan Akhtar has a very limited screen time and Anushka Sharma’s character always looks a complete misfit. Other support actors are effective but none of them are memorable in the truest sense of the word.
Dil Dhadakne Do raises some pertinent questions about the maneuverings of a typical Indian family and how parents, at times, unintentionally or intentionally impose their decisions on their children. The film has a very well penned but rather longish narration by Aamir Khan, who acts as a voiceover of Pluto Mehra, the only non-human member of the Mehra family. Although, the film tries hard to drive home the point that it’s critical for people to express their emotions at the right time, it itself fails to up the ante or convey the core message to the audiences at the right time. Post interval, the film meanders aimlessly on a lot of occasions, making you wonder if the principal characters’ own confusions in the films has rubbed on to the director.
The film’s main strength lies in its execution of certain scenes that are extremely candid and at times brutally honest. Shefali Shah’s rebuttal to Priyanka Chopra when the later tries to discuss her marital woes is one such scene. Ranveer Singh’s outburst towards the end and a little girl’s sly remarks on the overall proceedings through the film are well captured and induce both laughter and irony.
The film’s soundtrack has no real chartbusters and that acts as a sore given the huge length of the film. Surprisingly, even the film’s cinematography is not as per expectations given the high standards set by ZNMD. In the name of scenic beauty and stunning locale, we are mostly presented with a wide-angle shot of the cruise floating on the vast ocean. Sigh!
Overall, Dil Dhadakne Do is a long, over-crowded end result of what seems to be a genuine, nice intent. Zoya still has all her cinematic chops intact but she gets a little lost with this film that is more confused than candid, and definitely more boring than beautiful.
Rating: **1/2 (Average)