Dil Dhadakne Do: Alas, not the box office registers

MUMBAI: Dil Dhadakne Do is a sort of Page 3 of a high end Delhi group of Punjabi families; just about every family having a bunch of not very glorious secrets. It is kind of Nukkad (a very popular, classic TV serial that captivated the Doordarshan audience between 1986-88). This serial brought together characters from a chawl settlement together at the street corner and told their stories. 

Dil Dhadakne Do brings together a group of some upper-class Delhi Punjabi families together on a cruise ship; only here, even as this friendly group demonstrates bonhomie and love, each one is hiding a dagger behind the back. Bitching and backstabbing is the way of life here. Because, just about every participant in the jamboree represents a dysfunctional family.

Anil Kapoor is a self-made man rolling in millions. His favourite pastime is to tell and retell his success story.  His wife, Shefali Shah, like all such rich men’s wives, has little to do except deck up and meet with the wives of other such rich men. These women thrive in bitching about and badmouthing anyone of them who is not around. Anil has pinned all his hopes on his only son, Ranveer Singh, whom he expects to take over as the next boss of his company. He has married his daughter off to Rahul Bose, a Mumbai businessman. 

The group has internal jealousies and enmities, all hidden behind a mask of smile. All the women know whose husband is having an affair with whom but are never willing to accept stories in their own backyard.

Imagine what can happen when a horde of such couples come together on a cruise for a fortnight with nowhere to escape. 

Despite his ego and posturing, Anil is on the verge of bankruptcy. He can’t repay loans to banks, his products have become substandard. He urgently needs to infuse funds to save his enterprise and, more so, his face in the ‘society.’ However, this does not stop Anil from putting on a show. Though he or Shefali are never seen communicating without rancour, if at all, he decides to celebrate his wedding anniversary on a cruise ship, all expenses paid by him for all his friends.

Anil’s two friends, Parmeet Sethi and Manoj Pahwa, are sworn enemies and the initially discarded Parmeet needs to be added to the list of invitees, feels Shefali. For Parmeet is loaded. His only daughter, Ridhima Sud, has been humiliated when her prospective fiancé failed to attend their engagement ceremony. It was headline news in Delhi Times, it is said (a Times of India subsidiary, Junglee Pictures happens to be the partner in this film venture with Excel Entertainment). Hence, it is tough to find another suitor for her despite Parmeet’s riches. After all, marriage market is not OLX. 

But, Anil has a plan. He counts on a barter with Parmeet: Ranveer as a dulha for Ridhima against 49% stake by Parmeet in to Anil’s sinking company to salvage it. But, in matters of heart, business deals don’t figure. While Ranveer has already fallen in ‘love at first sight’ with Anushka Sharma, a contracted singer/dancer on the cruise ship, Ridhima has found her mate in Parmeet’s sworn enemy, Pahwa’s son, Vikrant Massey.

More skeletons come out of the closet as Priyanka declares she could never come to love her husband, Bose. In fact, she still has the hots for Farhan Khan whom her father sent to US to study to keep him away from her. Anil’s business tours were all about his womanising. Farhan is the son of Anil’s manager and not quite a match for Priyanka in Anil’s society. But, to add to the drama, he arrives on the cruise too to grace the occasion and add some life to it.

The young ones prove to be smarter than their elders as they make a pact. Ridhima spends her nights in Vikrant’s cabin while Ranveer spends his with Anushka but Ridhima and Ranveer agree to pretend to be in love. The deal almost materialises as Ranveer’s engagement will be announced with Ridhima against Parmeet’s buying of 49% stake in Anil’s company. To use the social media phrase, ‘it's complicated’!

Come out of the mess they all do, I mean writers and director with an easy solution that all such films adopt: everybody sees sense suddenly and it is QED!

Dil Dhadakne Do risks filling the screen with numerous characters but you never figure out who is what, especially to Anil and his family or in the story; in a while you stop caring. Except for a concerned few of them, none of the character is defined or explained. The script is loose and the director takes a 1970s art film approach like filming inconsequential scenes endlessly. Also, in an unsuccessful attempt to justify the horde of characters, limelight jumps from one character to another abruptly. 

What kind of script have you worked on where a lot of the story is in verbal narration and, not funnily, told by Anil’s family dog (voice of Aamir Khan)! The first half looks warped in a balloon; even if the film moves a bit in the second half, it is partly and haphazardly towards the end. Dialogue is mundane.The editing needs a second go. Music as in songs are no help. Background fails to pace up the proceedings. Visually, the film is good. 

Nobody really has a role to make an impact. However, Ranveer and Priyanka emerge the best triers. Anushka’s romantic pairing with Ranveer is a miscast and against public perception. Anil Kapoor’s character is sketched as an illogical one... with his throwing a lavish cruise party while facing bankruptcy to his shouting spree at his grown up children don’t make sense. Shefali is convincing. Farhan is good and so is Vikrant. Rest fill the bill.

Dil Dhadakne Do is an expensive project by all standards with a cast not known to justify such a cost besides being limited in content. Its theatrical take home will be limited to a great extent.

Producers: Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar with Junglee Pictures

Director: Zoya Akhtar

Cast: Anil  Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Shefali Shah, Farhan Akhtar, Rahul Bose, Ridhima Sud, Parmeet Sethi,Zarina Wahab, Vikrant Massey, Mohan Pahwa, Aamir Khan (as Pluto's voice)

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