Dil Dhadakne Do

One of those sinful comfort foods!


Dil Dhadakne Do

Starring: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Rahul Bose, Anushka Sharma
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar

Consensus: 3 Stars
Not bad, ain't that?


Rated

NR

Starring

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

Written by

Zoya Akhtar
Reema Kagti
Farhan Akhtar (dialogues)

Directed by

Zoya Akhtar


What to Expect

Abraham Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ pyramid puts the physiological or the need for bare necessities of survival at the bottom, topped subsequently by those of safety, love (or the need for belonging) and esteem, with self-actualization at the top most. In auteur Zoya Akhtar’s cinematic world, the characters have transcended from worrying about survival and safety and have problems that range from lack of self-esteem and the search for love to sometimes the ultimate need and desire for accomplishment. Some call them ‘first world problems’ and are simply not relatable to most of those who try to make ends meet. In Dil Dhadakne Do, Akhtar and her co-writer Reema Kagti (Talaash) reach out to those for whom the luxury on display is a thing to behold and aspire for. To realise, however, that the problems the Mehras have aren’t much different from ones a regular family has is what it points toward. Sure, it’s all glitzy and calm on the surface for the Mehra household, but a peep under the bed and look under the carpet reveals a lot more than meets the eye; they are just like most of us.

What’s it About?

Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor; Slumdog Millionaire) is a successful businessman who prides himself on his self-made title but has an extremely troubled relationship with his wife Neelam (Shefali Shah; Gandhi My Father). The problem is that the love has been erased over time from their love-marriage and is merely now a status quo for convenience and appearances. Their daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra; Barfi) is an entrepreneur with considerable success and is married to another businessman Manav (Rahul Bose; English, August), together ending up a terrible misfit. Kamal’s son Kabir (Ranveer Singh; Lootera) is in the family business but doesn’t have the acumen for it and dreams of becoming something of a pilot. Mehra’s business is on the verge of bankruptcy and needs to cut down on assets to reduce liabilities. In the social circle, however, it is imperative to keep appearances too. The Mehras, hence, are inviting their friends for a 2-week, all expense paid, cruise trip to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

All of the above threads are narrated by a bullmastiff named Pluto Mehra, the family dog, voiced by Aamir Khan. No, really.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Listen up Mr. Barjatya! We be havin' more swag.

Listen up Mr. Barjatya! We be havin’ more swag.

Dil Dhadakne Do is akin to an entire season of any popular television series, where some of the episodes are absolute gems while an equal number of them are just passable, and right in between, there are those awful ones; not affecting their overall popularity, as it prioritizes to deliver what it promises first. Additionally, like comfort food, it doesn’t exactly hurt much; entirely the opposite of it. The singular burning question that remains as an allegory is did this particular season deserved the mandatory 24 episode run? Or could it as well have done with 15?

Dil Dhadakne Do comes with a sparkling ensemble that does justice to its hiring and are a spectacle in themselves, many-a-time covering for the non-glossy parts of the script. The writer duo of Kagti and Akhtar do well with their initial premise and keep a lid on the melodrama and extended showdowns. They also do well to avoid making a caricature of the family members and the ones surrounding them. The dialogue writing credit goes to Farhan Akhtar, who does a fine job of it and is easily one of the movie’s strengths. A particular attraction of the film is the immaculate set-decoration and art decor; not to mention the costume design, which makes the overall look appear the kind of glossy that doesn’t head for an overkill, and additionally completely blends with the mood and story. While on looks, the cinematography by the Akhtar camp regular Carlos Catalan is breathtaking and not just for the exotic locales but also for the tiniest of the details in framing and lighting, not to mention the actors.
What am I doing in this movie again?

What am I doing in this movie again?

The problems of the movie – and there are plenty – begin specifically with the languid pace. The movie unfolds at its leisure and until the first half it requires some patience to go through the motion. By that I don’t mean it is boring; it’s just slow with some unnecessary scenes and a weak story arc involving Chopra’s character. At a total runtime of close to 3 hours, the movie surely overstays its welcome. Dil Dhadakne Do rakes up a lot of topics. And while some, like the one involving Shefali Shah’s arc are marvelous, the others end up being simply superfluous. One of the weakest links is the romance between Anushka and Ranveer, and it is to the actors’ credit and the wonderful chemistry they share, that it doesn’t end up being a complete wreck. Another hijink I have with the film is the rushed and unimaginative climax that just didn’t work for me on a personal level; and dare I say, neither would it have worked for most.

Let me say this loud and to the displeasure of Aamir Khan’s fans: his voice over of the dog Pluto Mehra is the most annoying aspect of the film, partly because of Khan’s uniform and uninspiring tone and partly because of the overkill. Not every angle, not every emotion and not every moment needed to be explained and thus ruined. Zoya’s last film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, though flawed in my opinion, used the beauty of silence at its most poignant moments. Alas, for this movie has none of those. I wish the dog had just barked more instead of talking. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s (D Day) original music for the film is just about average and isn’t worth taking back home with.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The Ishtyle. The Pharmoola. The- oh wrong movie.

The Ishtyle. The Pharmoola. The- oh wrong movie.

Among the actors, Anil Kapoor delivers a knockout, and this will count as one of his best performances throughout his career. As the patriarch Kamal Mehra, Kapoor is equal parts, charming, controlling, devious, vulnerable and most of the times, so full of himself. In one of my favourite scenes, as he realises everything around him falling apart, his silence does wonders and that alone is a masterclass to many aspiring actors. I would give a lot of credit to the writers without taking away anything from his interpretation and presentation of it. Shefali Shah matches Anil Kapoor on every step and on her own is an absolutely delight to watch. The usual livewire Ranveer Singh is surprisingly restrained and delivers a nuanced performance. Priyanka Chopra’s muddled character is a disappointment and she does her best to salvage it. Anushka Sharma’s character is another let down with not much to go by. Farhan Akhtar in a cameo is charming as usual. The rest of the supporting cast are all spot-on and add a lot and not just to the set decoration.

And then there’s the voice of Aamir Khan that doesn’t exactly deserve that extra mention.

Worth it?

A meal at McDonald’s with a burger, fries and Diet Coke to balance it with some greens on top is a lot of sin balanced with some comfort for the mind and some for the conscience. Dil Dhadakne Do is that meal; you aren’t missing much in life if you skip it, but won’t regret it either should you pick it up.

The choice is now yours.

Consensus: 3 Stars
Not bad, ain't that?
About the Author

Sajan Gupta

Reluctant banker. Aspirational writer. Movie enthusiast. Voracious reader. Part-time ambitious; full-time dreamer. Runs the "Reel Life" page on Facebook.

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What to Expect

Abraham Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ pyramid puts the physiological or the need for bare necessities of survival at the bottom, topped subsequently by those of safety, love (or the need for belonging) and esteem, with self-actualization at the top most. In auteur Zoya Akhtar’s cinematic world, the characters have transcended from worrying about survival and safety and have problems that range from lack of self-esteem and the search for love to sometimes the ultimate need and desire for accomplishment. Some call them ‘first world problems’ and are simply not relatable to most of those who try to make ends meet. In Dil Dhadakne Do, Akhtar and her co-writer Reema Kagti (Talaash) reach out to those for whom the luxury on display is a thing to behold and aspire for. To realise, however, that the problems the Mehras have aren’t much different from ones a regular family has is what it points toward. Sure, it’s all glitzy and calm on the surface for the Mehra household, but a peep under the bed and look under the carpet reveals a lot more than meets the eye; they are just like most of us.

What’s it About?

Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor; Slumdog Millionaire) is a successful businessman who prides himself on his self-made title but has an extremely troubled relationship with his wife Neelam (Shefali Shah; Gandhi My Father). The problem is that the love has been erased over time from their love-marriage and is merely now a status quo for convenience and appearances. Their daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra; Barfi) is an entrepreneur with considerable success and is married to another businessman Manav (Rahul Bose; English, August), together ending up a terrible misfit. Kamal’s son Kabir (Ranveer Singh; Lootera) is in the family business but doesn’t have the acumen for it and dreams of becoming something of a pilot. Mehra’s business is on the verge of bankruptcy and needs to cut down on assets to reduce liabilities. In the social circle, however, it is imperative to keep appearances too. The Mehras, hence, are inviting their friends for a 2-week, all expense paid, cruise trip to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

All of the above threads are narrated by a bullmastiff named Pluto Mehra, the family dog, voiced by Aamir Khan. No, really.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Dil Dhadakne Do is akin to an entire season of any popular television series, where some of the episodes are absolute gems while an equal number of them are just passable, and right in between, there are those awful ones; not affecting their overall popularity, as it prioritizes to deliver what it promises first. Additionally, like comfort food, it doesn’t exactly hurt much; entirely the opposite of it. The singular burning question that remains as an allegory is did this particular season deserved the mandatory 24 episode run? Or could it as well have done with 15?

Dil Dhadakne Do comes with a sparkling ensemble that does justice to its hiring and are a spectacle in themselves, many-a-time covering for the non-glossy parts of the script. The writer duo of Kagti and Akhtar do well with their initial premise and keep a lid on the melodrama and extended showdowns. They also do well to avoid making a caricature of the family members and the ones surrounding them. The dialogue writing credit goes to Farhan Akhtar, who does a fine job of it and is easily one of the movie’s strengths. A particular attraction of the film is the immaculate set-decoration and art decor; not to mention the costume design, which makes the overall look appear the kind of glossy that doesn’t head for an overkill, and additionally completely blends with the mood and story. While on looks, the cinematography by the Akhtar camp regular Carlos Catalan is breathtaking and not just for the exotic locales but also for the tiniest of the details in framing and lighting, not to mention the actors.

The problems of the movie – and there are plenty – begin specifically with the languid pace. The movie unfolds at its leisure and until the first half it requires some patience to go through the motion. By that I don’t mean it is boring; it’s just slow with some unnecessary scenes and a weak story arc involving Chopra’s character. At a total runtime of close to 3 hours, the movie surely overstays its welcome. Dil Dhadakne Do rakes up a lot of topics. And while some, like the one involving Shefali Shah’s arc are marvelous, the others end up being simply superfluous. One of the weakest links is the romance between Anushka and Ranveer, and it is to the actors’ credit and the wonderful chemistry they share, that it doesn’t end up being a complete wreck. Another hijink I have with the film is the rushed and unimaginative climax that just didn’t work for me on a personal level; and dare I say, neither would it have worked for most.

Let me say this loud and to the displeasure of Aamir Khan’s fans: his voice over of the dog Pluto Mehra is the most annoying aspect of the film, partly because of Khan’s uniform and uninspiring tone and partly because of the overkill. Not every angle, not every emotion and not every moment needed to be explained and thus ruined. Zoya’s last film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, though flawed in my opinion, used the beauty of silence at its most poignant moments. Alas, for this movie has none of those. I wish the dog had just barked more instead of talking. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s (D Day) original music for the film is just about average and isn’t worth taking back home with.

To Perform or Not to Perform

Among the actors, Anil Kapoor delivers a knockout, and this will count as one of his best performances throughout his career. As the patriarch Kamal Mehra, Kapoor is equal parts, charming, controlling, devious, vulnerable and most of the times, so full of himself. In one of my favourite scenes, as he realises everything around him falling apart, his silence does wonders and that alone is a masterclass to many aspiring actors. I would give a lot of credit to the writers without taking away anything from his interpretation and presentation of it. Shefali Shah matches Anil Kapoor on every step and on her own is an absolutely delight to watch. The usual livewire Ranveer Singh is surprisingly restrained and delivers a nuanced performance. Priyanka Chopra’s muddled character is a disappointment and she does her best to salvage it. Anushka Sharma’s character is another let down with not much to go by. Farhan Akhtar in a cameo is charming as usual. The rest of the supporting cast are all spot-on and add a lot and not just to the set decoration.

And then there’s the voice of Aamir Khan that doesn’t exactly deserve that extra mention.

Worth it?

A meal at McDonald’s with a burger, fries and Diet Coke to balance it with some greens on top is a lot of sin balanced with some comfort for the mind and some for the conscience. Dil Dhadakne Do is that meal; you aren’t missing much in life if you skip it, but won’t regret it either should you pick it up.

The choice is now yours.

About the Author

Sajan Gupta

Reluctant banker. Aspirational writer. Movie enthusiast. Voracious reader. Part-time ambitious; full-time dreamer. Runs the "Reel Life" page on Facebook.

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