High-society hi-jinks on the high seas. This, in short, is what ‘Dil Dhakakne Do’ comes off as primarily, even if there are multiple straining-for-depth strands in it. Of creeping middle-age and dwindling love. Of gender imbalance caused by dominant males, and the making of submissive women. Of lineage and privilege and position. Of life lessons from the wisest of them all, a dog named Pluto.
The canine is off on a cruise, as are his humans. Pluto, speaking in Aamir Khan’s distinctive voice, delivers little homilies from time to time as the Mehras — Papa (Anil Kapoor), Mama (Shefali Shah), Beta (Ranveer Singh), Beti (Priyanka Chopra) and Damaad (Rahul Bose) and their families and frenemies go sailing into the blue yonder. It is the 30th wedding anniversary of the Mehras, and what better than to celebrate other than a communal jaunt on a luxury yatch? And how best to air their problems and neuroses other than over sparkling wine and beauteous foreign vistas?
There are pleasures to be had while vicariously spying on the good life. The dinky clothes, the champagne lunches, the doing-nothing-because-you-can lifestyle of the rich if- not-very-famous are drool-worthy. So are the sun-drenched vistas of Istanbul, Zoya’s new Spain (the scene of action of her previous ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’). And some of the spikiness in relationships that are unraveling is very effective, especially the stuff that goes on between the blonde-haired middle-aged glad-eyed Mr Mehra, and the stuffing-her-face-full-of-fat-and-sugar miserable Mrs Mehra: Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah bring a real sting to their interactions; she is the best part of this film, and he is not far behind. Where do you go when love has gone?
As the unwilling scion of the Mehra family, Ranveer tames his frantic-ness well as he finds himself drawn to a below-the-decks girl (Anushka Sharma) in a decidedly ‘Titanic’ manner. Anushka Sharma plays a lead dancer in a troupe, and is a spirited if familiar presence in the ensemble, which stretches to a bunch of peroxide aunties with a nasty, gossipy tongue, and the ability of turning everything into an extended Punjabi-style kitty party, and a young couple (Sud and Massey) who fall for each other right under their disapproving parents’ eye in the most ‘Romeo and Juliet’ fashion.
There isn’t that much traction between Priyanka Chopra’s put-upon Ms Mehra, married to a man (Rahul Bose) who clearly likes doormats more than women, and the real love of her life (Farhan Akhtar). The latter is scruffy- dishy, and the former is perfectly coiffed, but they are not given enough. It’s time Priyanka got back to being a little messy: all these not-a-hair-out-place roles are making her constrained. Both Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma, who trails off, are better than the parts written for them.
It all goes swimmingly to begin with, but soon the smooth sailing is marred by languidness and choppiness: some scenes have rise, some do not ripple. And there are at least a couple of sequences which look as if they’ve been added just for the pleasure of using a few clever puns. Or just because they would look good. Or to include amiable solutions to problems that are kept carefully contained. Then there is the hearing-Hindi-while-actually-hearing-English problem: people go around saying: ‘woh kya thaa?’, and you hear ‘what was that’? Why not just say what comes more naturally? And why take so long to come to the point you’ve been heading to all along? It’s feel-good factor gets the time to dissipate. And in keeping with Zoya’s insistence on keeping it bubbly and bright, the characters do not cut and bleed, just burble and weep, and some crucial sharpness goes missing.
By the second half, the film starts to stretch over the horizon. In all this, my heart developed a big beat for Mr and Mrs Mehra, was attentive to Ranveer, skipped a bit for Farhan, and kind of floated over the rest. Yeh dil maange more.
Star Cast: Anil Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Shefali Shah, Rahul Bose, Farhan Akhtar, Ridhima Sud, Vikram Massey, Zarina Wahab
Director: Zoya Akhtar