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Film Review: Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’

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By Riti Das Dhankar

Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do is a movie that inspires and encourages everyone to listen to one’s heart and hear the inner voice that we conveniently ignore in a desperate attempt to  fulfill others’ expectations from us. The focal point of the movie is the Mehra family and the dynamics their interpersonal relationships hold. A rich Delhi based business family,  it comprises of four members who together make a unique, noteworthy unit for a simple reason. This family is a living, moving, breathing piece of hell. A hell they themselves have  created with their supercilious attitude and confused selves.

The senior Mehra in the movie is played by Anil Kapoor, who acts the part with great panache. He is a man who talks, eats, and breathes success. For Kamal Mehra, it seems, people or things are not divided into good or bad. They are, in fact, classified into successful and unsuccessful. A man with salt and pepper hair, suave charming demeanor, and a way with women, he is in reality a businessman desperately trying to save his business from falling apart and has no qualms being ruthless in crushing people’s emotions and sometimes people, who come in his path to success. A handsome man who thinks it’s his right to be high and mighty, he has drifted far away from his roots and, it seems, life in general.

Kamal Mehra’s wife, Neelam Mehra, played by Shefali Shah, is a feisty woman. Prim and proper with elegance and élan, she is  painfully aware of her husband’s philandering ways but decides to turn a blind eye to his deeds because she considers making a  relationship work more important than running away from it. A bitter woman hiding her insecure self behind the veil of a posh life, she works hard to give an impression of being happy and content in their marriage.

Ayesha Mehra, enacted by Priyanka Chopra, is the eldest child of the Mehras. A successful, self-made woman caught in a loveless marriage, she inherits the sharpness and business acumen from her father. A calm and, most of the times, composed girl, she is sensitive to the fact that her parents conveniently forget her success and advise her to have a child so that her world is “complete”.

The youngest Mehra, Kabir, played by Ranvir Singh, is a man who at heart is still a boy trying desperately to come out of the shadow and protection his moneyed family provides. But he is too scared of the outside world  and the discomforts  he might have to confront.

The story spins around these four central characters and their perspective of life.

Yet again, Zoya  has proved that the meaning of life could be found  in humor, chaos, and confusion. The stark reality of the hollow high society relationships is depicted with good humor and accuracy. The people in the movie are believable. They are flawed and that makes them more real. Each and every character in the movie is like someone we have  come across at some point in our life.

Those pretentious women we all know who thrive and grow wholly and solely on their husband’s income and success. The kind who may not know the difference between a planet and a star but would surely know the details of their neighbors including their affairs. The fake smiles, the pompous hugs, those sly smiles are captured with great detail and accuracy. I can vouch for the real life presence of such ostentatious humans.

The brother and sister duo of Ranvir and Priyanka captures the raw and uncouth relationship that siblings often share. The quick glances, the winks, the looks that make the siblings’ relationship fun are portrayed  with precision.

Apart from the humor, the movie also treads on some dark issues that we face in our day to day lives but shove them under the rug. We refuse to acknowledge them for the simple fear of confrontation with something that does not align with the society’s idea of “normal”. The simple fact that a marriage might not work because two people are not compatible enough is sometimes not palatable to people who sit ready to judge how others live their lives. There is a scene in the movie where Ayesha explains she does not have the feelings that a wife should have for her husband and wants to separate. Her mother-in-law is quick to jump in and bring to her notice that if there is no violence, no affairs, no tab on the spending done by the wife, the marriage is perfect and just needs to be worked on. She is seconded by her son who thinks he has “allowed” her to do what she wanted to do and how she wanted to live. And by “allowing” her, the family has “invested” in the girl. The magnitude of wrong in this sentiment is too obvious and, at the same time, too ignored in reality.

Another aspect sensitively portrayed is how a couple who fell madly in love with each other, who built a life for themselves, can drift away and become complete strangers living under the same roof. Sometimes, in a rush to run the race of life, we forget what we are, what we are made of, who our friends are, what love is, what companionship is. A question by a wife asking her husband why he forgot her can make us realize how easy and simple it is for a relationship to die in the course of life.

On the whole, the movie is a good watch with a dramatic Bollywood masala ending. The screenplay is effortless and very natural. The problems faced by the characters are believable because they are as confused as any one of us. The movie touches and brushes past a lot of things that make us question the double standards embedded in the layers of the society. But it just brushes past them. The movie does not solve any problems or try and give any alternatives. It simply urges one to live and think and be as one pleases.

Dil Dhadakne Do gently asks us to be how and what we want to be. It encourages us to let your hair down and run with open arms towards life with honesty not owed to anyone but to one’s own self.  That’s the sole perspective the movie offers.

Riti Das Dhankar is a freelance writer. She is doing her PhD in Psychology from Jaipur, where she completed her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

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Read the latest issues of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on the poet of love and protest, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, edited by Pooja Garg Singh, poet and writer.

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