Movie Review: Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)

DilDhadakneDo4 Stars (out of 4)

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One can never completely know what to expect when one walks into a theater, but when you get what you subconsciously wanted, you know the feeling. Dil Dhadakne Do (“Let the Heart Beat“) inspired that feeling for me. Writer-director Zoya Akhtar deftly wrangles a mammoth cast and innumerable subplots into a thoroughly enjoyable comedy about a dysfunctional family.

Many things are going wrong for the wealthy Mehra family. Neelam (Shefali Shah) endures her husband Kamal’s (Anil Kapoor) serial cheating. Their son, Kabir (Ranveer Singh), doesn’t want to inherit the family business, which is going bankrupt. Their daughter, Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra), is being pressured to give up her own successful company to have a child with Manav (Rahul Bose), the husband she doesn’t love.

With all of their close friends and business associates accompanying them on a ten-day Mediterranean cruise in honor of Neelam & Kamal’s 30th wedding anniversary, the Mehras try to pretend that everything is okay. Confined on a ship with dozens of associates with their own grudges and motivations, it’s impossible to keep up the front for long.

Part of the Mehra’s pretending requires them to not talk about uncomfortable things, even with one another. That becomes untenable when Kabir falls in love with Farah (Anushka Sharma), a dancer who works on the ship. She doesn’t fit with his role as the dutiful heir apparent — a role that he doesn’t even want — but he doesn’t know how to live any other way. In just a few days, he can’t envision a future without her.

As serious as the consequences of their relationship are, Kabir’s romance with Farah builds in a sweet, flirtatious way. Kabir’s seduction of Farah in the song “Pehli Baar” is equal parts playful and sexy. It’s an incredibly effective use of a choreographed number to advance the narrative (so much more so than the typical Bollywood romantic fantasy number involving a woman in a ball gown atop a windy sand dune).

Singh is something to behold in Dil Dhadakne Do. He contains his normally boundless energy, unleashing it in the dance numbers but otherwise playing it cool. His chemistry with Sharma is super. Her character is smitten but wary, given her far-less-stable financial footing.

Even better is the relationship between Singh and Chopra, playing adult children who still make faces behind their parents’ backs. So many of their scenes feel authentic: like the way Kabir calls his sister “Dude,” and his claim that the ice cream he steals from her bowl tastes better because it’s flavored with her annoyance. Their immaturity together belies an unbreakable allegiance.

It surely helps that Akhtar’s own brother, Farhan — who has a great supporting role as Ayesha’s former flame — wrote the film’s dialogue. Credit also to Akhtar’s co-writer, Reema Kagti, for a script with so many moving parts but no loose ends. It’s always clear which of the dozen or so aunties are aligned with whom, and which fellow businessmen are looking to gain an advantage.

Akhtar let scenes breathe, taking advantage of the sprawling cruise ship to allow characters to cover lots of physical ground while lost in thought. She has a top-notch cast at her disposal, and she gets the best out of her performers. Some of the best moments consist of knowing glances and wordless exchanges. She even gives the film’s villain, Manav, some funny reaction shots as he fends off his wife’s high-speed, anger-fueled tennis volleys.

The theme of women’s equality (or the lack thereof) runs throughout the film, through Manav’s possessive attitude toward Ayesha to Neelam’s willingness to tolerate Kamal’s infidelity because of her financial dependence on him. The subject is explored in a thoughtful way without seeming preachy, often presented as the younger generation trying to explain their beliefs to an older generation more comfortable with traditional gender roles.

Akhtar sets the right tones throughout Dil Dhadakne Do, interspersing serious ideas and insightful commentary without ever veering too far from the film’s comedic core. It’s funny, thought-provoking, and tear-jerking in all the right places. There’s so much to like in Dil Dhadakne Do.


33 thoughts on “Movie Review: Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)

  1. moviemavengal

    I loved all the things you loved about it, and the scenery was just gorgeous.

    The voice over narration was cute, but then felt over used — I didn’t need every glance and emotion explained to me. The pacing was a little slow for me in the first part, but I have to hand it to the script writers and Zoya for keeping so many balls in the air and for it to all not be confusing. Loved all the actors in this!

    1. Kathy

      It should be pointed out that the narration is done by Aamir Khan, who voices the internal monologue of the family dog, Pluto. In practice, it isn’t as stupid as it sounds. LOL

  2. ashokbhatia

    Had a chance to see this one and liked it. One has high hopes from Zoya and Farhan, and this one surely matches up. A sensible movie which is also a great commentary on the hypocritical ways of the rich and the perceived ‘superiority’ of the moral values of the elder generation.

    Ranveer comes across like a befuddled Bertie (a la P G Wodehouse), trying to make something of his life, especially when he comes up with the plot to outwit his parents and help two other lovers get united.

    The spoiler for me was the lyrics part. As is the custom these days, words simply get drowned in music. The good part is that one can focus better on the choreography and the sets instead!

  3. Parth

    Kathy, everything i wanted to say about this movie, you said it all. Excellent review.
    I want to mention the hospital scene. That was just so good. Ranveer shined in it.

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  5. Anushka

    I loved the film. A well made family comedy drama, probably my favorite film of the year so far. I was hardly bored and there was so much going on.

    I appreciate Zoya and Reema for developing such well-etched characters, especially the parents. Anil and Shefali shined throughout, Ranveer and priyanka were fabulous too. Just wish Priyanka’s character was more outspoken considering that she was a successful entrepreneur. I liked Anushka’s cameo, though wish there was more of it.

    After the film was done I felt good and had a big smile on my face. The ending was so cute!!

    I also liked the music, esp. Pehli Baar. Also not to forget Gallan Goodiyaan which was impressively filmed in a single take. The locations were gorgeous. Overall, Highly recommended!

    1. Kathy

      “After the film was done I felt good and had a big smile on my face.” I’m with you, Anushka. When it comes to comedies, I don’t ask for much more than this.

  6. Prem

    Hi Kathy,

    I really liked the movie as well. Especially loved the mature and heart-warming brother and sister relationship. A relationship that I think is often overlooked in Hindi films.

    Just discovered your site. Have really enjoyed reading your reviews and thanks for all your information.

    1. Kathy

      Thanks a bunch, Prem! I’d also love to see more movies about brothers and sisters. Priyanka and Ranveer make a great pair.

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