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Family drama, high seas and low tide

Family drama, high seas and low tide

Dil Dhadakne Do takes a troubled cruise over calm waters. The film delivers a tepid storyline, unnecessary clichés and predictable plodding through


Khalid Mohamed

Published: Fri 19 Jun 2015, 1:55 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Jul 2015, 2:55 PM

Family plots are unwieldy business. Coming apart at the seams, Bollywood movies tend to pack them with so many characters of disparate temperaments, hackneyed situations and clichés galore, that they rarely add up to entertainment of the believable kind.
Now, Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do has striven to host a buffet on board an ocean liner — with a dysfunctional, swishy New Delhi family suddenly compelled to confront their pent-up secrets and &lies. And although the gifted director does display a flair for glossy visuals and &an occasional smart punch-line, the outcome left me with mega mixed feelings. Sure, it’s a commercial winner but quality-wise a loser, nowhere in the league of her debut-making Luck By Chance, a look at the wicked, wicked ways of B-town show business.
Now, what in the name of hi-jinks — love or the lack of it among a caboodle of sappy socialites — is going on? For one, there are far too many irreconcilable differences erupting belatedly over the choppy waters of DDD. Next, there’s a wise dog commenting on the goings-yawn, a device obviously snitched from Lasse Hallström’s Swedish comedy My Life As A Dog (1985). And the fact that Aamir Khan’s voiceover articulates the dog’s Confucius-like thoughts (over-written by Javed Akhtar) merely adds to the tedium. Truly, it’s more ho-hum than ha-ha.
The editing of this ensemble comedy’s dramaturgy is as slow-paced as the &proverbial tugboat to China. Zoya, and her co-writer Reema Kagti, lose the plot and how. Perhaps director Akhtar was beset by a severe case of over-confidence after the success of her Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara which went gaga over the couleur locales of Spain, but sparkled thanks particularly to a charismatic performance by Hrithik Roshan, and a chartbusting music score.
What Zoya did just three years ago to boost the tourist attractions of Spain she doesn’t quite achieve by gliding over the selfie-friendly monuments of Turkey and Tunisia. Indeed, you feel that the story could have been anchored in New Delhi itself, but then, then there would have been no USP to the screenplay which hops, skips and jumps all over the ocean liner, whose European staff look as if they are on tranquilisers.
Be that as it may, the family in focus is facing a cataclysmic business crisis. Yet, on the pretext of celebrating a three-decade-old wedding anniversary, the Mehras sail off with friends (all cartoon-like caricatures) on a cruise which is sun-lit but edged by 50 shades, if not more, of darkness. These include extra-marital affairs, sermons on women’s lib, a medical emergency, a journalist who wants to change the world and, last but not the least, an eligible bachelor who’s more interested in flying airplanes than saving his father’s business from bankruptcy. He must possess an airplane, it seems, to live yuppily ever after.
Throughout the over-lengthy cruise, you long to jump off the liner, which the family eventually does in a ‘how-funny-is-that?’ pact of sorts. No spoiler alert that. After all, what use is a sprawling ocean in front of a camera, if no one jumps into the cool waters? Mercifully, the ocean’s constantly at &low tide. Needless to carp, everyone on the cruise comes out recharged and refreshed. Abracadabra, don’t worry, be del-iriously happy. Eventually, the values that Dil Dhadakne Do espouse come out somewhat regressive. The long-suffering Mrs Mehra instantly forgives her philandering husband. She has no other choice, it is conveyed. So what was the hullaballoo all about anyway?
Come to think of it, the kitchsy ‘family dramas’ of the 1960s made in the Hindi language in Chennai at least had the &fundamentals spot-on. Be it Khandan or Mehrban, the pressures of the joint family system were, at the very least, palpable. These were refined to a degree by Sooraj Barjatya’s grand-daddy of the genre, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! And &then came the turn of the NRI families, epitomised memo-rably by Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Benevolent uncles, aunts and dadi maas and nanis were &assigned roles oozing over with the milk of human kindness. And, of course, Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham encapsulated it all with the oft-quoted catchline, “It’s all about loving the family.”
Both Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar elected to be larger-than-life, glamour-coated and escapist. Despite that, their films set off an emotional blast.
Undoubtedly, Dil Dhadakne Do has a few stray moments of wit and unbridled energy, courtesy expert performances by Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah and (wonder of wonders) Ranveer Singh. Alas, that just isn’t sufficient these days when stories need to be insightful and intelligent, without such scattershot lines of dialogue: “This is getting ridiculous.” Indeed, it is. 

Aamir Khan did the voiceover for Pluto Mehra, the family’s dog in Dil Dhadakne Do, after he watched rushes of the film and Zoya Akhtar requested him to.
CASTING OUCHES: Hardly any of DDD’s stars were the director’s first choice. The Mehra siblings played by Ranveer and Priyanka were originally supposed to be essayed by real-life cousins Ranbir and Kareena Kapoor; Anushka’s role was first offered to Deepika Padukone; Farhan Akhtar, however, has always played a big or small part in his sister Zoya’s productions

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