Movie Review: Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’
Zoya Akhtar seems to be continuing her depiction of the enviable postcard destinations of Spain, France, Turkey and Tunisia from her previous movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ (We Only Have One Life) into her 2015 critical and commercial success ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ (Let the Heart Beat).
Traveling across southern Europe in a cruise ship surrounded by the deep blue sea, for the celebration of Mr. and Mrs. Mehra’s 30th wedding anniversary, they and their equally wealthy companions, seem to have it all. However, despite the elating occasion coupled with its picturesque topography there seems to be some trouble in paradise. Or rather, the trouble was simply an inevitable debacle waiting to happen. Dancing to the whims of their parents, Ayesha Sangha (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Kabir Mehra (Ranveer Singh) finally muster up the courage to confess decisions that could leave the reputation of the family in pieces.
Though the general plot of ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ has been done to death, it can still hold the title of being a movie like no other due to the fifth member of the Mehra clan. Pluto, no not the victorious ball of rock that has recently regained its position as a planet, but the family dog voiced by Amir khan, who by breaking the fourth wall, narrates the sequence of events.
The plot of the film follows Neelum (Shefali Shah) and Kamal (Anil Kapoor) Mehra as they attempt to strike a match between their son Kabir and Norrie Sood (Ridhima Sud) the daughter of business tycoons Lalit (Parmeet Sethi) and Naina (Dolly Minhas) Sood. However, this is more so an ingenious scheme by the Mehra’s to save their soon-to-be bankrupt company, rather than a genuine desire for marriage. Kabir plays along for his own materialistic gain, that being, a plane his parents bribe him with to agree to the marriage. However, this plan is doomed to fail as both Kabir and Noorie fall in love with separate individuals during the course of the cruise. In perhaps what is the most beautifully filmed scene of the movie, the trope of love at first sight is captured between Kabir and Farah Ali (Anushka Sharma). Noorie and her “baby” Rana Khanna (Vikrant Massey) represent a feistier archetype of enemies to lovers as well star-crossed lovers given that their feuding Khanna and Sood families do inspire the thought of the Montagues and Capulets.
As all these new relationships are unfolding, Ayesha’s marriage to Manav Sangha (Rahul Bose) is coming to its end. Her declaration “meh usko divorce karna chathi hoon” (I want to divorce him) marks the midpoint of the film. The climax of ‘Dil Dhadakne do’ is denoted by Kabir’s confession that he loves Farah “jo ek dancer or musilman ha” (who is a dancer and Muslim). At first, the parents oppose their children’s choices, yet on further reflection coupled by a health scare on Kamal’s part that seems to put things into perspective, the couple decides to support their children, putting their happiness above wealth and reputation. This is symbolised by the actions of Neelum holding her daughter’s hand when she is being berated by her mother in-law and her father defending her when Ayesha’s husband tries to play tough.
At the penultimate scene, in an attempt to get their son off the cruise ship so that he can confess his love to Farah, left behind on land, the Mehra’s break multiple laws. This last ditch grand romantic gesture is reminiscent of many Bollywood romances such as the iconic DDLG train scene. Moreover, though it does add an element of slapstick comedy, these spontaneous actions are not reflective of the character’s personalities, particularly in a film that otherwise does an exceptional job to depict characters so well-developed, they could have stand-alone films of their own.
There are many strings left untied in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ such as; does Ayesha get a divorce? Does Kabir find Farah and confess commitment? Does Farah accept? What happens to Kamal’s anxiety, does he get help for it? What happens to Neelam's binge eating, does she get help for it? Do Noorie and Rana get married, do their feuding families accept the relationship? These unresolved issues allows the audience to continue the storyline even after the credits have started rolling, transforming the film further from an enjoyable watch, into a universe of its own where multiple conclusions can be made and a variety of parallel plotlines can occur.
The A-list cast of Zoya Akhatar’s ‘Dil Dhadakne Do,’ including — to name a few — Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Ranveer Singh, Farhan Akhtar, Anil Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Amir Khan, is more than enough to convince an audience to watch the comedic drama. Yet, however much impressive this list of the crème de la crème of the Hindi-film industry may be, the movie is a worthwhile watch due to its impeccable depiction of the upper-class, south-Asian familial unit and the individuals within it that are attempting to live in a world where their every action and choice is dictated by financial greed and more importantly “log kya khange?” (What will people say?)