Dil Dhadakne Do is a slick, well shot movie whose basic premise exploring different dynamics of relationships has been deftly helmed by Zoya Akhtar and the movie has been taken a few notches higher by earnest performances from its starcast along with its stunning visuals that boast of being wallpaper material. Zoya Akhtar is one of those new age directors who envisages the modern urban class relationships exquisitely and hence is able to conceive and portray them on-screen with adroitness. Her last flick "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" was a prima facie example of this and DDD is a step forward in the same direction. There's a concern that this film might appeal to a certain section section of the audience primarily the multiplex crowd in metros. People from the small centers might not be able to relate to it. Yes, DDD is unlike the other masala laden films that average cinegoer likes to savor, its a refined film but with a charm of its own. If one's perception of masala is beguilement, hilarity, drama & emotions, than DDD has it all. It's just that it has been conceived and portrayed in a different manner. DDD is real and can be primarily graded as a slice of the life film. Zoya's ability to infuse offbeat elements in mainstream cinema needs to be lauded and appreciated. Zoya's affinity about the intricacies of human behavior is unprecedented which was evident in her last flick and DDD strives to impeccably integrate authentic characters and bona fide situations on celluloid. There's nothing profound about DDD ; neither does it bring any insight that you and I don't already have from our own relationships. But, it connects from the word go. Maybe one gets connected with it instantly because some of the things are too close to home. The movie takes a dig and chronicles the events that take place during a cruise trip organized by a rich elite dysfunctional family to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary. What makes this tale about the dysfunctional so delightful is its endearing characters that have been etched to perfection. The conflicts in the movie are bona fide and portrayed on-screen with genuine emotions. Though, the characters in the film belong to elite business class families but their concerns and problems are very relate-able. The film ably exposes the perturbing truths about a dysfunctional family and in the process volleys germane of questions at the audience ; how excessive parental control can affect the lives of their kids, why kids should have say in their lives else they might go aggressive, why a woman should remain stuck in a marriage just for the sake of social wrath even if she doesn't love her husband, why sons are given preferential treatment over daughters ? All these points might be sounding heavy but Kudos to Zoya as she has crafted a tale which raise as well as answers these questions in a jovial manner with a touch of sarcasm. Her take on lives of rich & famous who live a pompous but pretentious life has come out as very authentic and quite hilarious at times. The only thing that goes against the movie is its run-time which is 170 minutes and tighter editing could have given more edge to the movie.
STORY & SCREENPLAY ( SPOILERS AHEAD) :: The story as well as screenplay of this film has been co-penned by Zoya Akhtar along with Reema Kagti and the dialogues of the movie have been penned down by Farhan Akhtar. Zoya and Reema have penned down the script with lot of care and concern as if borrowing incidents from real life situations. Their writing is simple, straightforward, well etched and character driven. The best part is that the script introduces the starcast as actors and not as typical heroes or heroines which makes it more believable. There are no heroic entries or over the top action. It's the characters and their constant conversations, that elevate DDD to new heights. Looking inward, Zoya and Farhan as the dialogue writer, borrow liberally from their own life and those around them. When a film or any story for that matter is rooted in true experience, it ably succeeds in transmitting the feeling easily to other person because in the end, our experiences are the same, we are raised like everyone else with families to count on, our tiffs are the same and we love no differently. The witticism, of course flows for which due credit must be given to Farhan Akhtar (dialogue writer). The spoken lines ( a brilliant fusion of of the colloquial and existential ) are so doggedly wedded to the visuals that we come out with a complete and satisfying cinematic experience, so replete with life's most luscious home truths that we want to carry the plot's bumper-sticker wisdom in our hearts forever. The film begins with Pluto Mehra, the pet dog (voice-over by Aamir Khan) introducing audience to Mehra family. Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) is a self made businessman who never looses a chance to boast about it & married to Neelam Mehra ( Shefali Shah) who despite of having major differences in their marital life pretend to be a happily wedded couple. They have two kids, a son Kabeer Mehra (Ranveer Singh) who has a penchant for flying but is being prepared to lead AYKA Industries, business empire set up by his father and a daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) who is married to Manav (Rahul Bose). Unlike Kabeer, Ayesha has a strong business acumen and has independently opened a successful online travel portal but she is not leading a healthy married life with Manav. On the eve of their 30th marriage anniversary, Mehras plan a cruise trip for celebrations and call their close friends & relatives for the same. Ironically, at the same time they come to know that their company AYKA is running into losses and is loosing its credence in the market. To end their financial woes, Mehras think of a plan and invite Lalit Sood (Parmeet Sethi), a rich industrialist to the cruise along with his family. Their plan is to somehow get Lalit's only daughter, Noori (Ridhima Sud) engaged to their son, Kabeer so that Lalit would bail them out of their financial vows. But, destiny has other plans as on the cruise Kabeer meets Farah Ali (Anushka Sharma) who is a part of dance troupe of the cruise liner and falls in love with her at first sight. Meanwhile, Ayesha is also fed up of leading a pretentious happily married life with Manav & wants a divorce but is suggested against it by her parents. On top of it, her ex-flame Sunny (Farhan Akhtar) also comes abroad the cruise fueling up her emotions. Does Kabeer get to marry Farah or sacrifices his love for the sake of dwindling fortunes of his company & pressure from his parents, Is Ayesha able to muster up courage to divorce Manav and re-unite with Sunny is what forms the rest of the story.
STARCAST :: A word of praise of Nandini Shrikent (Casting Director) for assembling a fine coterie of actors who have enlivened the on-screen proceedings with their apt portrayal of their respective characters. One of the major factors of the film pulling you in is the frank, unvarnished performances by its starcast. Anil Kapoor takes up challenges for himself with every project he chooses to do and tries to outdo himself by pushing his limits. Anil is in terrific form in this movie, interpreting an extremely intricate and exceptional character fluently, channelizing every emotion in the book through his eyes. His typical dance moves are a treat to watch & he fits into the character of Kamal Mehra so well that you can't imagine any other actor who could have portrayed this character better than him. Ranveer Singh looks like a million bucks and acts just too wonderfully. He is completely in character and shines. It is a sheer delight to watch this young actor slip unto the shoes of every character that he portrays on-screen with an effortless ease and perform with utmost conviction. You see him in a different avatar as Kabir who is gentle, vulnerable and unsure. Priyanka Chopra excels in the character of Ayesha who is going through a troubled marriage. She has truly delivered a power packed performance by picking up every note and shade of her character rightly and enacting the same on-screen with perfection. Her on-screen sibling chemistry with Ranveer has come out exceedingly well and together both of them add up lot of plausible moments to the film. Farhan Akhtar is remarkable and excels in his layered performance. He is endearing, supremely confident and competent. Portraying the character of Neelam Mehra is not an easy job as it's a complex character with several layers attached to it but to her credit, Shefali Shah has done it with aplomb. She had to display a myriad number of emotions with respect to different relationships ; wife, mother, and mother-in-law & she has portrayed them with remarkable ease. Anushka Sharma not only looks tantalizing but has also underplayed her character in the most beautiful manner. After her high decibel performance in NH10, she has showcased immense improvement as an actress. What a perfect role for Rahul Bose! And as usual, he makes the most of it with subtlety and the right kind of emotion. Ridhima Sud has fared well and given a descent performance. It's not easy to make your presence felt with so many acting stalwarts around but Ridhima has stood her ground firmly. Another actor who deserves a mention is Vikrant Massey who was last seen in film "Lootera" alongside Ranveer Singh. Vikrant has given a subtle, restrained and apt performance. Manoj Pahwa packs a punch with his witty one-liners and adds to the humor quotient of the movie. Other noticeable performances have been delivered by Parmeet Sethi and Zarina Wahab.
TECHNICAL FINESSE :: Technically, Dil Dhadakne Do is a marvel as whole of the technical crew have delivered the goods in their respective departments with aplomb. The musical soundtrack of DDD has been composed by the dependable trio of Shankar Mahadevan, Loy Mendonsa & Ehsaan Noorani which has come out as a classy album. Couple of tracks namely ; the peppy & lively title track "Dil Dhadakne Do" sung by Farhan Akhtar along with Priyanka Chopra and the romantic number "Pehli Baar" sung by Siddharth Mahadevan along with Sukriti Kakkar stand out amongst others. The cinematographer of the movie is Carlos Catalan who has done an outstanding job behind the lens. Technically, the movie boasts of some of the best camera work in recent times. Carlos Catalan, captures every single, minute detail whether in land, sea, indoors or outdoors with perfection through the roving eye of his lens. He has brilliantly used different color palates according to the characters and scenes. A special mention of Neil Patel (Production Designing) and Arjun Bhasin (Costume designing) for their apt contribution in their respective fields. The movie has been edited by Manan Mehta along with Anand Subaya who have kept the run-time of the movie to 170 minutes. Its understandable that it becomes difficult to chop off scenes from movie which has so many characters and shot so beautifully but a little apt usage of scissors on editing table would have been better as the movie seems a tad too long. Director Zoya Akhtar follows up "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" with another sensitive and entertaining study of people minus the usual frills associated with typical Bollywood melodrama. Kudos to her for crafting an unconventional tale minus the cliches with elements of philosophy about life imbibed in it. Zoya has this amazing knack of making her actors mouth music in every line. You don't just remember the dialogues, you remember their cadence. Also, she's fearless in the way she shoots and doesn't hide behind overcoated background scores. And that's why most of the times she is able to latch on to precious and raw cinematic moments. Overall, I have no qualms in saying that as a writer-director, Zoya Akhtar has once again reaffirmed that she is not only one of the most talented story-writers when it comes to penning down stories revolving around modern day relationships but also has the vision to translate them on-screen with her directorial skills & crafting abilities.
CONCLUSION :: Dil Dhadakne Do is intelligent, well conceived flick that takes deep insight into the complex family relationships of today's times through well captured cinematic moments. This movie is a treat for cinema connoisseurs but if you have a penchant for formulaic laden conventional potboilers, than this movie is not your cup of tea.
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