Review: Dil Dhadakne Do

Zoya Akhtar’s next film is finally here! Dil Dhadakne Do (or DDD, or D3, or Dcubed) is about the problems in the lives of the rich and affluent, which are magically fixed by taking a five-thousand-euro-a-family cruise. If I had five thousand Euros, I really wouldn’t have problems, but these guys have some.

(For all desis mentally converting five thousand euros into local currency, it’s 3.5 lakh Indian Rupees. This is approximately equal to the price of four glasses of Coke at your local multiplex.)

So DDD is about the 30th anniversary of the Mehras (why are all rich fictional families called “the Mehras”?), a dysfunctional Punjabi family living in Mumbai, played by Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah. Their “iklota waaris” is Ranveer Singh, who takes more pleasure in flying planes than worrying about the weakening of the Dollar, as he should be doing. Their daughter is a budding entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra who is married to Rahul Bose, who belongs to another rich family.

Now rich is an understatement. These people are super rich. By the time you finish reading this sentence, they would’ve earned enough to buy your house and still have spare change to buy a car. Kids throw fits when their private planes are being sold, servants stand beside the dinner table with rotis on a plate. You get the idea.

Aamir Khan lends his voice to a Dog who acts as the narrator. This seems kinda pointless, but maybe Aamir just wanted to be a part of a movie called D3 which didn’t completely suck.

Did you notice how I’ve written over two-hundred words and I haven’t even started the review? Because this is how DDD begins. You feel restless for the movie to lift off in the first half.

This doesn’t mean the film is boring, though. A run-length of nearly three hours seems massive at first, but DDD soars effortlessly. Alternating between moments of laughter and misery, Zoya Akthar ensures the presence of a little humour even in the darkest scenes. This helps in not taking the movie too seriously, which is important not to exhaust your brain.

“Money can’t buy you happiness” is something this movie tries to convey, and it succeeds a fair bit. Life problems isn’t something you generally associate with people, and DDD provides an interesting insight into that dichotomy. You’re shown problems of multiple failing marriages, bankruptcy, patriarchy, love which are basically solved by spending lots of money. So that message was pointless.

This review is turning out to be negative, but that isn’t my viewpoint on the film at all! It’s superbly written (the Kagti/Akhtar partnership strikes again!) with sharp, witty dialogues written by Farhan Akthar. Carlos Catalan returns after working with Zoya on her previous films, picking off where he left off. The shots of the cruise and gorgeous Turkish locales make the film look like a million bucks.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deliver some catchy songs. One of my sequences in the film was the song Galla Goodiyan. While egregiously named, it’s performed by the entire extended cast and is shot in a single take, culminating in everyone meeting at the bar. As soon as the movie ended, I wanted to go back and watch this song again. The camera fluidly traverses while giving you fleeting glimpses of everyone, successfully preserving the entire picture in your mind. An outstanding aesthetic and technical achievement which made we want to stand up and scream “DID ANYONE SEE THAT”.

(This video embedded above isn’t the complete song – which explains the single cut you see midway. But you get the idea.)

With a star-studded cast, lack of chemistry is bound to be an issue. A big payday is obviously ensured, and DDD could very well have been big-name actors just hamming their lines and collect a fat paycheck. Surprisingly, this isn’t so. The actors are perfectly cast, creating an ensemble which is hard to take your eyes off. Everyone hits the right notes with utter perfection. Shefali Shah is brilliant as the depressed housewife who has to put on a facade of happiness for the society. Watch her in a short-but-bittersweet scene where she binges on cupcakes as an act of defiance against her husband’s tiresome quips about her diet. Priyanka Chopra displays a varied range of emotions as the underappreciated daughter of the Mehras, who doesn’t boast about her self-made status. Anushka Sharma is a dancer on a cruise ship and she doesn’t really have much to do other than look pretty, which she does. Ranveer Singh walks away with the best lines in the film. He effuses boyish charm and his cocky nature goes extremely well with his comic timing. There’s a spectacular scene in which a lady threatens to slice her wrists, and Ranveer helpfully points out that wouldn’t achieve that using a butter knife. While this cast sets the bar quite high, they don’t hold a candle to Anil Kapoor who smashes that bar and delivers a career-best performance as an acrimonious, philandering business magnate who never misses a moment to criticise his wife. The cast really holds the film together and in addition to some excellent camerawork, makes it hard to take your eyes off the screen for a second.

While casually mocking the way the privileged take their lives way too seriously, there arises a small problem. The characters are perfectly believable, but I had a hard time relating to any of them. This is eventually, my biggest grouse with the movie. While Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara also showed rich folks, you could connect with them as it wasn’t about the problems of the rich – it was a road-trip with old friends and made me want to call up my school buddies and go backpacking across Europe. In many ways, DDD is the perfect film. The production values are stunning, the direction is expertly done and the writing is top-notch. However, Dil Dhadakne Do ironically fails to connect with your heart because it crucially misses the most important part of any film – soul.

None of this really matters, though as it has no bearing on the ending – which is terrible. It looks like a frantic finale lifted straight out of an Aneez Bazmee movie. I won’t go into the specifics, but it leaves a sour aftertaste after a delectable main course. A pity. It’s almost as if Kagti and Akthar gave up at the end and let the dog use the laptop.

In conclusion, one can harshly say DDD is Zoya’s weakest film. It doesn’t have the emotional gravitas of ZNMD, and it doesn’t come even remotely close to her directorial debut Luck By Chance (few films do, anyway). It still remains a wonderful film and certainly deserves a watch.


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