Dil Dhadakne Do. A movie that starts out with gyaan on human nature, and ends on a note of hope for that very species. The ride starts out on choppy waters and ends on sedate, calm waves that have us doing a little dance of introspection. So was it worth it?
Yes – absolutely. And here’s why. From the very first frame, Dil Dhadakne Do brings in layers like never before. Much like the ocean waves on which most of the movie is set, it rumbles, roars and recedes. The movie starts with the perfunctory description of its characters – the patriarchal Mehra (Anil Kapoor), his always prim and oh so proper wife (Shefali Shah), the gaggle of Page 3 friends, their daughter Ayesha (more on her later) and their son Kabir (much more on him later). We are also introduced to Ayesha’s indifferent husband, Manav and typical Mother in Law. And then there’s the narrator himself – Pluto. The family dog.
So the basic plot is that there’s a 30th wedding anniversary plan – a trip on a cruise liner that loses its moorings somewhere between Greece and Turkey. The Mehras are celebrating turning 30 in style. Half of Page 3 has been invited and the other half left behind. The invitations are out and the RSVPs are in. The daughter is pouting because her name has not been featured on this social trophy of the year. The son is pouting because to add to his existential pressures – his name has been featured prominently on the card.
Akhtar makes a few things very clear, very fast. Kabir does not want to be a businessman like his father – only, he doesn’t really know it yet. His passion? Flying high. Ayesha, on her part, was born to the manner and runs a successful business she began on her own (Forbes and all included) – but is expected to simply produce a child and look after her hypochondriac mother in law. The Mehras do not really get along – don’t get us wrong, they do not fight – they simply exist.
But here’s where Akhtar really has us glued to the seat. In this normal setting, she pulls out the sublime and gives it a starring role of its own. Mehra hates that his wife is not a slim waif like model, eating a pea for lunch. She hates how crude he can get. They both love their son. He doesn’t know that she’s a compulsive, emotional eater. She doesn’t know that he’s on anxiety pills. They both want the business not to tank. He does not know that she knows about his “business trips”. She does not know that he doesn’t know. They have both never bothered to lunch together in all these years. Get the picture? Riveting, yes.
Now Kabir is on a trip of his own. He wants his father to not sell the family plane (yes, how they live). And for that he is willing to marry the daughter of a certain Sood who is willing to save the family business. With me so far? Only, Sood’s daughter is in love with the son of Sood’s sworn enemy. Ayesha wants to divorce her husband and her courage is bolstered when childhood love Sunny (Farhan Akhtar) enters the love boat. Also on the love boat – a dancer named Farah Ali (Anushka Sharma).
With 26 actors, this movie could have been a madhouse of sorts – and it is, but for all the right, entertaining reasons. The scene where Mehra is detected with gas instead of a dreaded cardiac arrest? Brilliant. The scene where the siblings ask each other if one really wants to marry Sood’s daughter, and if the other really wants to divorce Manav? Brilliant. The scene where Kabir calls for a family meeting, and his mother asks him to speak, leaving Kabir to realise that he hadn’t really thought things through – beyond brilliant. The scenes showing Sood’s daughter and arch rival’s son getting closer – oh so real.
Now, on to the performances. Anil Kapoor as the robust, Punjabi self made man – he’s everything. Period. Shefali Shah as the mother who always says the right thing in public – superb. Every eyebrow arch, every indifferent brush off – literally every hair in place. Priyanka Chopra as the poor little rich girl who yearns for more – perfection. Her expressions, her unsaid words, and her body language – all pat down. Farhan Akhtar as the charismatic, suave, Journalist Sunny is drool worthy. Anushka Sharma is fun to watch and her innocence as she describes her runaway story in plain words actually tugs at you. And then, there’s Kabir.
Ranveer Singh as Kabir is a surprising revelation. That he can actually add so much subtlety to a character with such a complex range is emotions is near magic. Each nuance, each expression, each theme has been so well measured and well played out – almost like a recipe, for success. Here’s how: playfulness 1 teaspoon, dramatic childishness 1/4th tablespoon, loyalty 2 heapfuls of that same tablespoon – you get the drift, right?
The aunties, the mother in law, Manav, Pluto and the others, all turn in stellar performances. Watch out especially for the scenes of a drunken younger cousin puking after an overdose of champagne, the one where Sunny proves a point to Manav on women “empowerment”, or the scene here Ayesha asks her aunties to get jobs and one literally says, “is she mad – who will give us one?” – and other such gems that line the decks.
So what’s the verdict for this winning movie? Watch it. Feels like reading a book, only shorter, sweeter and more visually engaging!