I was pretty surprised when this film received only lukewarm reviews - it was an Akhtar film, was it not? Post-watch I still can't understand it although I have to say that Dil Dhadakne Do is a bit of a comedown after the rambunctious blockbuster that was Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
DDD is essentially about the Mehras - Kamal (Kapoor), Neelam (Chaya), Kabir (Singh) and Ayesha (Chopra), an ultra-rich Delhite family out celebrating the 30th marriage anniversary of the parental unit. Kamal and Neelam in truth haven't been on friendly terms for ever so long, but maintain the pretense of the happily married couple. Their son Kabir is the unwilling crown prince to the Mehra industries throne, and his sister Ayesha has been married off in Bombay, and not considered a Mehra anymore in true Punjabi patriarchal style.
The anniversary celebration is in the form of a 10 day cruise of Turkey and Greece, where the Mehra clan is accompanied by friends and family. As the days go by, their lives unravel in spectacular fashion. Life will never be the same again, and that can't be a good thing can it?
So that's the nub of it: the implosion of a good-looking nuclear family. It is very prettily done of course. Nice characterizations, some good acting, lovely locales and foot-tapping music. It is a little drawn out at at the beginning, with frequent voice-overs spelling out the obvious to us. Too much telling and not much showing - a big, glaring flaw. I mean I understand that Akhtar wants us to get the nitty-gritty and all, but could she not have worked the voice-over-ish stuff into dialog?
Once you get past that, it's mostly smooth sailing. I like the Akhtars you know, because when I see their films, even though they get a little too bromance-y, you can tell that they are feminists. In DDD, they actually take it pretty head on. There is an overt questioning of the patriarchy, of the superficial veneer of morality that shrouds society, and of the unequal status of women in Indian society. I loved it.
Anil Kapoor, probably playing his age for the first time ever, is in spectacular form. And Shefali Chaya, as unhappy society wife Neelam, is toe-to-toe with him. Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma have great chemistry - they fairly sizzle on screen. There is this scene where the two set eyes on each other for the first time, and all they do is look. It was smolderingly fantastic, and would have been even more so if not for the annoying voice-over. Priyanka Chopra and Rahul Bose do well too, and then there was the fabulous Zarina Wahab as Bose's mom - an unexpected bonus.
It is new for the Bollywood film industry, this genre of familial fall-outs, and unspooling love-lives (note the plural). And if anyone were to try their hand at it, I'd rather it be Akhtar because she, despite some missteps, seems to display that talent for getting to the heart of the matter. The poignant moments in this film are proof enough of that. I recommend Dil Dhadakne Do - a fun, feel-good film.
Kidwise: This is clean and classy. There are a couple of lip-locks, and a few trysts in the sack (although nothing is too explicit - let's not carried away now, this is Bollywood after all). My teenagers saw this with me and loved it. Say what you will, but you do have to admit that like other films by Farhan/Zoya Dil Dhadakne Do also makes Desi people seem cool, hip, and possessed of a sense of humor - traits very attractive to the young ones. My kids have now evinced a renewed desire to polish their Hindi skills, because they want to understand the meaning of the song lyrics, and get the inside jokes. And for that, dear Akhtars, I tip my hat.