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Monday, August 10, 2020

Dil Bechara review: Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer is equal parts dirge and catharsis

Dil Bechara movie review: It is the occasional sweetness that Sushant Singh Rajput and Sanjana Sanghi Sanghi manage to rustle up that carries the film.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | Updated: July 25, 2020 11:32:54 am
Dil Bechara Dil Bechara is streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar.

Dil Bechara movie cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sanjana Sanghi, Saif Ali Khan, Sahil Vaid, Swastika Mukherjee, Saswata Chatterjee, Sunit Tandon
Dil Bechara movie director: Mukesh Chhabra
Dil Bechara movie rating: 2.5 stars

‘Ek tha raja, ek thi rani, dono mar gaye, khatam kahaani’.

Can a film be a prophecy? A character in Dil Bechara, talking about the emptiness caused by a loved one’s death, mentions the word suicide, and you freeze. Because it’s been just over a month, and many of us are still struggling to make sense of the death by suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput, the leading man of the movie, which has turned out to be, sadly, his last.

Dil Bechara is adapted from John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, a Young Adult (YA) romance about two young people in very challenging circumstances. Those who have read the book, and seen the movie, know exactly what happens. Plot-wise, there are no surprises in Dil Bechara. We know that Kizie Basu (Kizie, because she was born in Zambia, and it’s a Zambian name which means someone who never lets go) and Immanuel Rajkumar Junior aka Manny, will forever be star-crossed. Both have cancer, she of the thyroid, and he of bone; both have experienced the disease for long years; both know just how fragile their lives are.

A life-threatening disease plus sparkling young lives plus romance is a ready-made recipe for winsome smiles plus tugging-at-the-heart-strings plus tears. But the film is beset by choppiness, and that colours the characters of the Rajinikanth-loving, very filmi Manny and the sweet Kizie, who adores an obscure singer, him more than her. Manny is much older than Kizie, and the film makes a faint stab at an explanation, and then forgets about it; the film-within-a-film thread is more laughable than anything else.

A trip to Paris, where the reclusive singer (Khan, in a what-was-that cameo) is holed up, is part of the plot. It also includes Kizzie’s loving parents (Mukherjee and Chatterjee, both good), her well-meaning doctor (Tandon). There’s Manny’s cancer-survivor bestie (Vaid), who is losing his sight. There’s his grandma, and parents, who are seen very briefly: why? Why so little detailing of the leading man? No good reasons are given. Choppy and lopsided aren’t great ways to give us a complete, soul-satisfying young love story, which switches on only sporadically. It is the occasional sweetness that Rajput and Sanghi manage to rustle up that carries the film.

Dil Bechara should have released much earlier. One of the major delays was caused by the suspension of Chhabra, whose debut directorial this is, in a MeToo allegation. He was cleared and returned to the film, which was supposed to have come out last November. But fate, as they say, willed otherwise.

Just over a month ago, Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide, and plunged us into a maelstrom of feeling: shock, horror, anger, sadness. No one knows what happened; no one may ever know. His passing is so recent, with so many troubling consequences, that you cannot divest that feeling of a life lost too soon, from watching him on screen, as his Manny heads towards his destiny. But will we ever have closure on Sushant Singh Rajput’s tragic end?

Dil Bechara is not just a film. It is equal parts dirge, and catharsis. You see Sushant, and the film recedes, and you want to reach out and freeze the frame. He was there, and he isn’t here. I brush back a tear.

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