Dil Dhadakne Do Review: Priyanka, Ranveer, Anushka star in Zoya Akhtar’s celebrity pyjama party
Anil Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra danced their hearts out at the screening of their film, Dil Dhadakne Do, in Kuala Lumpur. The actors, who play father and daughter in the film, showed their fun side as they broke into an impromptu jig on the IIFA green carpet. Their dance was completely unsynchronised as they showed off their Punjabi moves. For the record, the DDD team sans Ranveer Singh, was present at the event for the world premiere of the film.
At some point in the first half of Dil Dhadakne Do, you might find yourself wondering whether director Zoya Akhtar is pulling an elaborate con on the audience. When it begins, we’re informed that our narrator is a dog named Pluto Mehra. This is not a slight upon Pluto’s character. Pluto is literally a dog; an adorable bull mastiff to be precise, whose voice sounds distinctly like Aamir Khan’s.
Pluto is the not-so-silent witness to the Mehra family’s antics. This is why he is the one providing us running commentary while Kamal (Anil Kapoor), Neelu (Shefali Shah), Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) and Kabir (Ranveer Singh) go about making a mess of their thoroughly charmed lives.
However, you’ll realise soon enough that you’re seeing things that Pluto can’t have witnessed. There are episodes unfolding at a kitty party in a restaurant, at a bar, by the pool on a cruise ship…and there is no Pluto in sight. Yet we see what’s happening from a fly-on-the-wall perspective and invariably get a little voiceover from Pluto that explains the subtext of each scene.
That’s when it struck this reviewer that Dil Dhadakne Do isn’t a family drama as its trailer suggested, but a horror film. This is a movie about a talking dog whose spirit either possesses bartenders or wanders invisible as a ghost through the human world, and who plays the Mehra family like an expert puppeteer. Move over Chucky.
Akhtar has often drawn criticism for focusing her attention upon the privileged. However, that’s not necessarily a failing. Being rich doesn’t mean one is immune to sadness or pain and with good storytelling, shallow characters can be used to make insightful observations about how people think and behave. Akhtar has the talent to do this — we’ve seen her manage it in Luck By Chance and there were flashes of the same in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.The reason Pluto’s occult possibilities are thrilling as an idea is that outlandish as that plot might be, it’s a darn sight more interesting than what actually transpires in Dil Dhadakne Do.Particularly pre-intermission, this 170-minute long film set on a cruise ship moves as slowly as a rowboat in the Pacific Ocean. The pace picks up in the second half, but by then you may already be wondering why you should care about any of the beautiful people holidaying in Turkey.
For better or for worse, Dil Dhadakne Do quickly reveals itself to be a hipster version of a Sooraj Barjatya film. It’s pretty but artificial, with a tissue-thin story told through flat characters played by gorgeous actors. Instead of Tuffy and his animal tribe with their ability to receive messages from from idols of Ram and Sita, we have the all-knowing Pluto. There is a token tomboy, some secret love, a couple of arranged marriages and many song-and-dance situations. All this culminates in a ludicrous climax that might make cruise companies unwilling to ever let an Indian family on board if they see this movie. The only difference is that Dil Dhadakne Do is set in Turkey and on a luxury cruise vessel while Rajshri Productions prefers kitschy, desi settings.
And because Dil Dhadakne Do has Farhan ‘MARD’ Akhtar in it, there’s a pointed little lecture on how no woman is a man’s possession. Journalists, rejoice. For his cameo, Akhtar plays one of us in Dil Dhadakne Do — he’s a reporter who writes “depressing” stories, according to one of the characters — and while doing his bit for promoting feminism, he also defends journalists. Yay!
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